Elly Valas, Nationwide: An Ardor for the Independent
Valas views her work with Nationwide as another way to help equalize the playing field between independents and mega-retailers, in more ways than just buying power.
“Major chains have whole teams to develop TV spots and do merchandising, advertising and training. If every independent (hired) someone to do each of those things, they’d be out of business,” she said. “Buying groups really help them do all this stuff to sell their product through. It’s about giving the little guy the scale, in many things, of the big guy.”
Guerrilla Retailing and Lessons from the Links, Valas’ two books, are among her proudest achievements. The latter compares business to golf, and was inspired by a dealer who said that he ran his business the way he played the game. “He explained to me that most people think they should run their businesses the way their competitors do,” she said. “If the competitor drops a line, they need to do the same. But a golfer doesn’t change his game because he’s playing Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. You play your best game, and try to overcome your weaknesses.”