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Highlights of the October 2015 Issue


NDAA Conference Report Eyes Far-Reaching Reforms for Resale Benefits


• WASHINGTON —Swept along, perhaps, by a powerful impulse to redress what Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain called a “military technological advantage” that is “eroding,” and what the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) recognized as a need for the Department of Defense (DoD) “to do a better job balancing its tooth-to-tail,” Congress reached agreement on Oct. 7 to push forward with multiple reforms to acquisition, retirement, healthcare, compensation and workforce shaping. This included requiring DoD to submit specific proposals to make the commissary and exchange systems “budget neutral,“ and it gave DoD leeway to conduct various commissary pilot programs that might include “changes to pricing structure;” exploration of privatization options; and the pursuit of discounts for eligible patrons at major grocers, among other potentially fundamental changes to non-pay resale benefit compensation. ...

DRBOB Prescribes Cooperation, Compromise for Resale Systems


• WASHINGTON — “Can cooler heads prevail, and severe damage to the military resale system be averted?” is the question on some minds in the military resale community, as they look ahead to March 2016, and the proposed initiation of variable pricing tests and other measures that have been put into the field of play by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Congressional agreement.

Among potential cool heads, it is hoped by many in military resale that Department of Defense (DoD) Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) Peter Levine, informed by his growing familiarity with the interdependent mechanisms that drive successful military resale programs, will lead members of a group known as the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board DRBOB, a.k.a. “Dr. Bob,”— yet to be chartered at press time — to viable compromises that permit patrons to receive the savings, brands, quality and services they expect, but still help blunt the pressures of DoD requirements for budgetary constraints on the military resale systems. ...

Marine Corps Appoints Rowen MCX Branch Head, Supply Chain


• QUANTICO — The Marine Corps NAF Business and Support Services Division (NAFBSSD), the entity that oversees the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX), announced the appointment of Laura Rowen as its branch head, Supply Chain, in its Business Operations Directorate. ...


‘Nutrition and Wellness’ Thrust Emerges in MCX Test


• QUANTICO — As this issue went to press, details began to emerge of a new initiative, named the Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW), which appears set to pick up at least a small portion of the momentum surrounding “healthy lifestyles”“ and nutrition in military food and fitness facilities that was generated by the Department of Defense’s (DoD) now-concluded test phase of its Healthy Base Initiative (HBI).

According to Marine Corps NAF Business and Services Support Division (NAFBSSD) Director Cindy Whitman Lacy, who also oversees the Marine Corps Exchanges (MCX) as part of her responsibilities, the “MCX has been selected to participate in planogram, endcap and point-of-purchase (POP) testing for a sister initiative to HBI that is currently underway called Project on Nutrition and Wellness.”” ...


MCX Buyers Shift in Tactical, Military Clothing, Electronics, Home Office Stationery and Softlines


• QUANTICO — The Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) Business Operations Directorate has set in motion a series of personnel moves affecting numerous buyers and categories in its merchandising area.

Eydie Quisumbing was named the buyer responsible for tactical, sporting goods, toys and bicycles in Hardlines. Quisumbing succeeds Robin Pruett, who became the buyer for pre-recorded, home office, communications and video games. Pruett succeeded Heinrich Hofmann, who moved to consumables.

In consumables, Hofmann became the buyer for stationery, books and magazines, hardware, automotive and pets, succeeding Karen Macdonald, who now handles the buying duties for commercial military clothing, a position that had been vacant since Wanda Fox left the MCX in 2014 after many years in the position. ...


AAFES’s French and McCartin Switch VP Roles, Ward Named Senior Public Relations Manager


• DALLAS — Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Alan French and Jay Mc- Cartin executed a trade of vice president (VP) roles within the Logistics (LG) Directorate. French became the VP of Fulfillment Operations, while Mc- Cartin, who previously served in that position, took up French’s former role of vice president (VP) of Logistics Operations.

In other headquarters-based personnel shifts, Christopher J. Ward, long-time AAFES public relations specialist, was recently appointed senior public relations manager in the Exchange’s Strategic Planning and Partnership (PL) Directorate, succeeding Judd Anstey who was named executive assistant to the chief executive officer (CEO) (see E and C News 8/15). ...


DeCA Shopper Wins a Year of Free Groceries


• FORT LEE — A Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) patron was in for a great surprise when she discovered that she had won free groceries for a year at the commissary here, worth up to $7,800.

When Army Specialist Daquana Brown showed up at the commissary on Sept. 11, she expected to pick up VIP passes she had won to a NASCAR race for the following night at the Richmond International Raceway. She might have even expected to pick up a few items at the store’s customer appreciation case-lot sales event.

But she ended up receiving quite a lot more. Waiting for Brown was a ceremony, with representatives from co-sponsor Smithfield Foods’ Eckrich brand, the national non-profit organization Operation Homefront, Richard Petty Motorsports and DeCA. ... But the capper to the special day was when Eckrich representative Jeff Dennison stepped up with a giant placard announcing that Brown had also won free groceries for a year at the commissary sponsored by Eckrich. ...


DeCA Commissary Reopens After Extensive Remodeling


• CAMP CARROLL, Korea — After a year-long renovation — avoiding the expense of building a completely new store — the commissary here reopened on July 14. The extensive remodeling began last summer and completely renovated the store’s interior and exterior.

With the grand opening of the new store punctuated with events including sales promotions, product samplings and drawings for prizes, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) officials and patrons were able to reflect on how much their commissary had changed during the past year. ...

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Grisham Joins Military Resale Solutions as VP Business Development, Exchange Division


• CHESAPEAKE — Military Resale Solutions has announced Sharon Grisham as its Vice President (VP) of Business Development, Exchange Division. Grisham brings a wealth of knowledge to MRS, including experience in the field, representation of major manufacturers and senior leadership within the military channel. The military resale veteran traces her roots in resale to five years with NEXCOM, 10 years with John K. Kealy Company, 14 years with C. Lloyd Johnson Co. as Director of Confections, as well as VP assignments with Acosta and Advantage.

NEXCOM, at No. 45, and AAFES, at No. 46, were chosen for the 2014 Latina Style 50 list after evaluation of more than 800 companies. The magazine’s annual rankings are considered a respected source of information for Hispanic women across the country. ...

NEXCOM, AAFES Among Best Companies for Latinas


• FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Once again, military resale has been spotlighted as among the best employers for Latina women. Latina Style Magazine named the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) as among the top 50 companies that are providing the best career opportunities for Latinas in the U.S. ...

Tyson Foods Presents Donation to Wounded Warrior Athletes


• SPRINGDALE, ARK. — On Aug. 14, Tyson Foods’ All-Stars softball team went head to head with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) in a game to benefit this organization. During the contest, Tyson Foods presented the WWAST with a $25,000 check.

“One of our team members, who serves on the softball tournament planning committee, saw a TV spot featuring the WWAST last year about the same time our 2014 Tyson Tournament was wrapping up,”” said Derek Burleson, Tyson Foods’ Public Relations. “We have a strong history of supporting our military and veterans, so we thought it would be a perfect fit to invite the WWAST to play in the 2015 Tyson tournament.” ...


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Focus on Mission, Customers, Quality and Savings


Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, SC, USN (Ret.), NEXCOM Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, SC, USN (Ret.) is all about the Navy mission and the customer. And as members of the resale community also know, he’s all about improving NEXCOM’s retail, food and services, uniform, lodging and ships store offerings. Today, more than ever, that means bringing eligible patrons a more seamless omni-channel “one stop”“ shopping experience. One that is unmatched outside the gate in terms of it broad range, service and value.

Bianchi also discusses his CEO focus areas, the new era of cooperation between resale entities on base, and the balancing act of providing compelling value to eligible patrons, while supporting the Navy mission, retention, and dividends to Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR).

E and C News: During the past year, what are some of the things you feel that NEXCOM has gotten right for the Navy/Navy Family customer?

Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, SC, USN (Ret.): We had a busy 2014, and it was all about our customers! Let me share with you a few of our most noteworthy accomplishments.

We developed several great initiatives over the course of the last year geared specifically to supporting our Navy families and the 21st Century Sailor and Marine, namely our Low Price Guarantee, “A Better You,”” and private label programs that stretch across multiple categories of merchandise.

Our opening price point merchandise and private label program are the result of strong partnership with our vendor community to develop exclusive low-price, affordable offerings in support of Navy families trying to live within a budget. ...



MARINE CORPS Q&A: Anticipating and Delivering What Marines and Their Families Need

Cindy Whitman Lacy, Director, Marine Corps NAF Business and Support Services Division


Marine Corps Nonappropriated Fund (NAF) Business and Support Services Division Director Cindy Whitman Lacy is guiding the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) through perhaps the most challenging period it has ever faced. The retail side of the enterprise is emerging from a perfect storm of force reductions, budget constraints, tobacco sales declines and price parity, and restrictions on alcohol sales. As the turbulence subsides a little, she and the MCX team are seeing fresh sales growth in mission-relevant health and nutrition subcategories, and are determined to seek new opportunities and efficiencies — and to build a new service delivery model to not only weather adversity but also to thrive in its aftermath.

E and C News: Your pride and passion for the Corps, and your sincere motivation to serve Marines and their families, has always been apparent. Please tell us what has inspired you this year as director of Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and the NAF Business and Support Services Division?

Cindy Whitman Lacy: Working for a service as brilliant as the Marine Corps excites me every single day. I am humbled to lead our organization, and am more excited than ever about our future opportunities.

Our organization has had two of the most challenging years I can remember. We truly hit an inflection point of the perfect storm. Our organization is not immune from budget constraints and appropriated funds (APF) reductions as we transition to a post-wartime environment and a drawdown in our end-strength, but we have also seen challenges in our top-line sales.

Challenges can be a catalyst for ideas and innovation, and we are seizing that opportunity to find new solutions. Our workforce shines most when challenged. ...



Insight, Efficiency, Dedication Guide Way in Exchange’s “The Year of the Customer”


Michael Immler, AAFES Deputy Director

Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) veteran Michael “Mike” Immler, the Exchange deputy director since March 2015, has brought a wealth of strategic, legal, business project development and organizational oversight experience to his newest role. During the five years prior to becoming Exchange Director Tom Shull’s deputy, Immler has taken an increasingly active role in AAFES affairs, from interfacing with Washington, D.C., civilian and military leadership, to his wide-ranging responsibilities in strategy and planning.

As AAFES prepares to enter into fiscal 2015’s fourth quarter, Immler, who is still actively engaged in leading the Exchange’s strategy and planning activities, explains how AAFES is approaching the big-picture retail and operating challenges of today and tomorrow. The headwinds may sometimes be stiff, but one thing is quite evident: AAFES’s deputy director is energized by the Exchange mission, by management’s continuing quest to improve the benefit, and by associates’ dedication, as together, they take on their daily challenge to deliver extraordinary service to the most deserving patrons.

E and C News: During your career with AAFES, and previously as an Air Force colonel, you must have seen numerous improvements in the way that the Exchange does business. What in your view are some of the Exchange’s recent improvements or achievements that go up against AAFES’s best changes during your life’s experience of the PX/BX?

Michael Immler: I’ve seen many improvements over my career, and singling out the best is a challenge, but there is one that stands above all the rest.

When the Board of Directors hired Tom Shull as the first civilian director/chief executive officer (CEO), that change alone catapulted the Exchange into a bright, new future. The renewed focus on national brands and reducing costs enabled the Exchange to achieve record earnings and support for quality-of-life programs. In particular, the focus on national brand food concepts gives our servicemembers greater choices in healthier dining.

Another notable improvement is the sense of community that has been created on the installations with Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Kaiserslautern Military Community Consolidated (KMCC) Exchange, Germany. At these and other future locations, the Exchange has worked hard to create a gathering place for families and friends.

One change that most people wouldn’t normally see from the outside is the recent streamlining of the AAFES Board of Directors and the national training and certification that all Board members receive. These changes have greatly improved the governance and operation of the Board.

This year was designated as “The Year of the Customer,” and has concentrated the entire organization on providing extraordinary customer experiences. We know that we serve the best customers in the world, but this renewed emphasis makes it part of our corporate DNA. Our customers are gallant warriors who sacrifice every day for us, and we owe it to them, along with their families, to put their needs first and foremost. ...



VCS Q&A: ‘GIVING BACK’ To Patrons and the VA


Veterans Canteen Service Chief Operating Officer (COO) James Leahy

Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) Chief Operating Officer (COO) James Leahy has a broad comprehension of what makes the VCS tick, both operationally and in retailing terms, having previously served as its chief merchandising officer and most recently as associate director of field operations. His nearly 40-year career path, which has traversed both the civilian retail and government service sectors, is part of what helps Leahy keep his perspectives open on harnessing the change that continues to pervade retail, services and government, and catalyzing it into useful initiatives for the VCS and the VA. Evolution is not optional for the organization, because, similar to the exchanges, the VCS is a non-appropriated entity which, Leahy says, must be “agile, adaptable and open to new revenue opportunities.”

In September, Leahy spoke with E and C News about the “ongoing journey” the canteen service must take as it continues to evolve as a 21st century retailer, dedicated to serving patients, caregivers and their families with excellence.

On what characterizes today’s VCS …

James Leahy: We come in contact with over 5 million customers each month in our stores, cafes and coffee shops, which gives us the honor to deliver benefits earned and services deserved to our Veterans each and every day.

We are committed to providing the highest level of customer service to our patrons and continue to follow the same values as an integral part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The “—ICARE” principles — Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence — are part of our culture.

Just like the VA, we are here to serve Veterans, their families, and VA employees. As the VA transforms to a customer service culture from a process-oriented one, VCS will not only maintain our customer service excellence values, but continue to discover new paths to exceed customer expectations. ...



CGCSC/CGX Q&A: A Passion For Serving Our Shipmates


Capt. Robert L. Whitehouse, USCG, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Community Services Command (CGCSC)

How the Coast Guard Exchange (CGX) has managed to keep sales about on a par, yet increase its dividend nearly 37 percent in 2014, even while experiencing a 40 percent decline in one of its traditional traffic driving categories, tobacco, might seem astonishing, unless one understands just how focused the CGX has been on pulling off such a feat..

New initiatives centered on freshness, nutrition, active lifestyles and generating value for Coast Guard families have sprung up across the system, and CGX leadership and associates’ abiding“passion for serving their shipmates” has shone through. In this question-and-answer session, Guard Community Services Command (CGCSC) Commander, Capt. Robert L. Whitehouse, USCG, explains how the CGX is exploring category diversification, and finding new and creative revenue streams to build a more sustainable business model for the future — one that is still steadfastly aligned with Coast Guard principles, support for readiness and retention, and the delivery of outstanding value, service and convenience.

E and C News: Congratulations on just over a year at the helm of CGCSC. Is there anything you can tell us that you see differently today about the CGX than you did perhaps a year or more ago?

Capt. Robert L. Whitehouse, USCG: I am delighted to serve as the third commanding officer of the Community Services Command (CSC), and I’m honored to lead such a creative, supportive, and collaborative team.

Over the last year, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to visit several CGX stores throughout the country, and the differentiation in size and offerings between our stores is striking. However, the one thing I witness on a consistent basis is the passion our associates have for serving our shipmates and the familiarity they have with their clientele. It’s our people that make every CGX store feel like home. ...





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