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Anderson, NACDS merit praise

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Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, was recognized as association executive of the year last month by a group of association and business executives that annually designates one of its own to receive this recognition.

MMR OpinionSo it was that, at a lunch in Washington, D.C., to mark this event, some 600 association and business executives gathered to recognize and praise Anderson, who has led NACDS for the past nine years.

The event was noteworthy, in part, because Anderson is popular in Washington, especially in official Washington, where he is an accepted member of the established hierarchy of executives who deal routinely with the governmental and bureaucratic structures that run the country. But it was also noteworthy because Anderson has performed well at NACDS. At a time of association change and instability, NACDS has positioned itself as an organization that really does benefit its members.

NACDS is a voice in official Washington, though by no means the loudest or most influential voice. Its meetings and conference agenda are arguably the most well-rounded among retail trade organizations. Indeed, it is perhaps the retail association that comes closest to serving the diverse and sometimes contradictory needs of its retail membership, a diverse mix that includes large and small, and national and regional, retailers, frequently with different, and often conflicting, agendas.

Then, too, NACDS has a strong and seasoned staff. Several of its senior staffers have been with the organization for many years. Indeed, several have been there longer than Anderson. He has made NACDS work by working with the staff, often submerging his own position to that of staffers more knowledgeable in a specific discipline. The result is that NACDS is today a functioning, disciplined organization, traditional in its goals and objectives but still capable of introducing a new program — and integrating it into the existing structure.

Perhaps of greatest significance, association members who have gotten to know Anderson like him. He combines a genial personality with an ability to get things done, to move the needle, to achieve. Perhaps the best example of this ability to combine the old and the new was the organization’s move, three years ago, to discontinue the Marketplace Conference, generally recognized as among the most effective merchandise shows in mass retailing, and replace it with a more comprehensive exposition, Total Store Expo. Through the growing pains typical of a new endeavor, TSE is emerging as the new standard for merchandise events — and Marketplace Conference is little more than a distant memory.

So the recognition of Steve Anderson for his accomplishments was certainly warranted. And Anderson, as is his way, treated the event in his usual low-key fashion, dismissing it as of momentary noteworthiness on the one hand and understanding its significance on the other. Thus, this is perhaps the appropriate time for the editors of MMR to add our congratulations and appreciation to the many that have already been made known. Suffice to say that NACDS is fortunate to have Steve Anderson as its leader.


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