On April 1st, 1946, the Navy Ship’s Store Office was established, marking the birth of what is now known as the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). The Navy Ship’s Store Office was created after a recommendation by a US Navy committee headed by Captain Wheelock H. Bingham, which suggested consolidating shore-side retail operations with ship-based retail locations. Of note, CAPT Bingham joined Macy’s after leaving the US Navy and was named president of Macy's New York. In 1956, he was moved up to president and chief operating officer of the corporation, sharing the top management with Jack I. Straus, chairman and chief executive officer.
The Navy Exchange Service Command operates retail stores and services on Navy installations worldwide, providing military personnel and their families with access to goods and services at a savings over commercial prices. The organization is made up of more than 14,000 associates and serves over millions of patrons annually.
NEXCOM has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the Navy and its personnel. In the early years, the organization was primarily focused on providing shipboard supplies and goods to sailors. However, as the Navy grew and expanded, so did the mission of the Navy Exchange Service Command. Today, NEXCOM with over $3B in revenue, operates a wide range of retail operations under the Navy Exchange, including stores ranging from 200 to 200,000 square feet, over 500 fast-food operations, gas and other services, over 20,000 hotel rooms under the NEXCOM Hospitality Group (Navy Lodge & Navy Gateway Inn & Suites), and supports the US Navy Uniform program, Ships Stores, and Telecommunications Program Office. Ok, here is where I am going to veer off of my traditional path a bit.... Within my first year with NEXCOM, I gave an interview where I was quoted as saying, “it is inspiring to be part of an organization and brand where you don’t have to look back years or decades to find a moment worth sharing, we only have to look to yesterday” and I gave a couple of examples. With that in mind, let me give you a few highlights from the last 77 hours…
We joined our sister exchanges and honored Vietnam Veterans on March 29th (National Vietnam War Veterans Day) with recognition events across the globe and a commemorative lapel pin.
Yesterday, our first NEX Retail Merchant Training Program participants visited the USS Carter Hall, learning more about life and operations onboard. This is our first group to go through this new program and since January 6th, have had the chance to tour stores, the distribution center, meet with other teams and executives and share learnings and best practices.
On March 31st, we officially kicked off our "77th Birthday" celebrations both at our HQ and around the world with speeches, recognition, and of course, CAKE! The cake is typically cut by the youngest and oldest sailors using the sword to cut the cake. Our CEO, Retired Admiral Robert Bianchi (my boss) led the cutting but also used it as an opportunity to recognize a couple of members of my team...Anton (far right) who is a member of our social media team and inspires us daily and Krystal (next to him) who recently joined us as a graphic designer and is a military spouse.
In the parking lot at HQ, our newest "launch" THE FLEATERY which will have physical locations "Landings", in location kiosks "Outposts" and our newest FOOD TRUCK "On The Go". It is in "dry dock" at the moment being outfitted and tested but the collaboration between the food services, facilities, and our creative marketing teams has been outstanding!
Today (April 1st) kicked off a couple of really cool events and initiatives:
At twenty-fives location around the world, from Norfolk to Naples, Bangor to Bahrain, San Diego to Sigonella, the Easter Bunny made his appearance sharing stories, taking pictures, and having breakfast with our "little heroes" and a few big heroes! And you might not be able to tell by the photo...but the Easter Bunny & Carrot Friends? Both NEX and NEXCOM Hospitality Group associates (what a great collaboration!)
You'll notice the color purple on several of the kids. April is the Month of the Military Child and April 15th is "Purple Up Day", both a great opportunity to honor and appreciate military families and their children for the sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.
We celebrated this in several really cool ways... First, starting today, we are giving out over 7,000 "Little Heroes at Home" carabiners, a fun take on a "Command Coin" (or commemorative coin). If you don't know the history behind Command Coins, it is worth looking into it.
We also kicked off the first of what will be a series of "Hybrid" fitness events. During the pandemic, we launched several innovative ways to keep our military patron community engaged, entertained and connected including our virtual 5K's. This community has continued to grow and we had over 15,000 participants last year. This year, we have added 8k and 10k races, and today a 1 Mile Fun Run in collaboration with our partners at MWR.
Over 100 participants in person at our NEX Jacksonville location in partnership with MWR with plenty of events for the family including a DJ! All while hundreds more around the world are completing the run virtually!
This is the combined effort of over 14,000 associates across the globe, field and HQ, supported by our vendor partners, and our friends at MWR and USO, all with a MISSION:YOU sense of pride, willing to go the Nautical Mile to serve our patrons, as we have for the last seventy-seven years.
I have plenty of really cool history, pictures, fun facts and innovative initiatives that I had planned to show, easily demonstrating that we are "more than just a store." But I think the last 77 hours are a great representation of what we have done over the last 77 years...and just wait until you see what we have in store!