Ok, let's start with this. . .I don't like writing about myself and I have never been good at the "30 second elevator speech". But if you'd to know more about my background and what drives me, read on...
"Rich has an extensive history of developing and executing long term strategic growth plans, creating impactful marketing campaigns, developing new products & brands, leading cultural change, and building world class teams." That is part of my speaker's bio. It makes me sounds like I am a pretty big deal! Trust me, I am anything but.
My original ambition was to serve in the US Navy as a JAG Corps Officer. After a career in the Navy, I imagined my journey continuing by joining or opening up a law practice and eventually running for office, perhaps the US Senate. I applied for ROTC, was diverted into considering Military Intelligence, but unfortunately failed my physical as a result of an accident in sixth grade. Don't worry, the story has a happy ending.
I stumbled into the retail industry and throughout my career, I have held positions of increasing responsibility in merchandising, brand development & marketing, product development & sourcing, and new business development, with companies large and small, in retail and wholesale. Thankfully, I've benefited by having passionate mentors, great teams, and a personal willingness to take a risk or two.
Currently, I serve as the EVP, Global Chief Merchandising & Marketing Officer for the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). This US Navy command includes the Navy Exchange, a $2B global retailer with over 300 stores ranging from a 180 square foot micro-market to a 180,000 square foot flagship store, as well as a web store. If you don't know much about the Navy Exchange - ask me, I'd love to tell you about what we do! Fun facts about working for a Navy command? In addition to getting to do a job that I love for patrons that are the most deserving in the world, I hold a "Top Secret" clearance (am I allowed to say that?), I have taken terrorist training (duck and cover!), and I hold the civilian rank of a flag officer. Which sounds really cool...until a real flag officer enters the room. Respect.
Prior to joining NEXCOM, I founded PDB Advisory Group where I served in an advisory capacity to CEO’s and senior executives leading brands seeking to develop their strategic marketing efforts, “purpose driven” branding, consumer insights & engagement, and organizational excellence. I was inspired to start this endeavor after reading “The Purpose Driven Economy” by Aaron Hurst. During this time, I also founded the Brand (Co) Lab, working directly with innovative start-up brands and emerging non-profits, connecting the dots between innovative leaders and creative talent to bring great ideas to life. With clients literally on both sides of the country and around the world, while the travel was demanding, this experience recharged my love for innovation, showed the need for agility, the importance of understanding the customer journey, and the art of possible.
Before venturing out on my own, I served as the SVP of Marketing, Licensing & E-Commerce for Haggar Clothing Co where we spearheaded the initial growth of Haggar's online business and led a major corporate brand “re-fresh”, highlighted by the innovative “Slacks are Back” campaign. The effort earned me a nomination in 2013 for “CMO of the Year” in DFW. I'll admit it was a cool moment for me and my team, and I'm ok that I lost to Sheryl Adkins-Green of Mary Kay. Really, I am!
We originally made our way to Texas from New York / New Jersey so I could work for JC Penney, starting as a Brand Director and ultimately serving as the VP for Men’s & Kid’s Private Brands, leading the design, product development & trend teams that drove JCP’s private label brands with an annual sales volume of over $2.7 billion. I did this during the transitional eras between Mike Ullman and Ron Johnson, both of whom I learned a considerable amount from. Imagine that.
I earned my MBA from William & Mary's Mason School of Business - a decision heavily influenced by my wife and a back stage conversation with Garth Brooks. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing with a Minor in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University. I graduated with honors from both programs - and I am not kidding about the conversation with Garth Brooks!
I was recently named a "2021 Top 100 Marketer" by my peers through OnCon Conferences. I am a proud member of The CMO Club and was honored in 2016 with the CMO Innovation Award, was a finalist in 2018 for the CMO Social Responsibility Award, and most recently, I was awarded the 2020 CMO Content Engagement Award. While the latest ceremony was held virtually, in 2016 I had the opportunity to bring my then 12-year-old daughter with me to NYC as my "plus one" where she thought I was a pretty big deal, that is until she met the CMO of Global Chocolate for Mars. THAT was a pretty big deal!
Did I mention that I married my high school sweetheart? I did and we've renewed our vows in Las Vegas and more recently in Negril. We have an amazing daughter who is in high school studying Japanese and global cultures. And a sweet, old puggle named Arrow after the Harry Nilsson song, "Me & My Arrow."
I have a passion for youth leadership, diversity, and mentoring and have honored those by serving on the boards of the Digital Retailing School at the University of North Texas and the Fashion Merchandising School at TCU, and for several years as a national board of trustee for HOBY, a youth leadership organization for high school sophomores, one that I was fortunate enough to attend when I was in high school thanks to an amazing teacher, Ms. Rita Smith. I also like to write, contributing to numerous blogs and articles, and once a chapter titled “DRIVING INNOVATION WHILE GROWING YOUR BRAND” for the Inside The Minds: Leading Marketing Executives series. Somewhere, you might find something I've done on iTunes, but I am reminded by my wife that "it is free" - so I guess I don't get to brag until someone can charge a fee for something witty that I've said.
How did I do? Still here? Well, if you are, stay tuned because I am still a work in progress....