A song for the unsung

Just about everyone likes reading about celebrities, whether they’re stars on a global scale (is Tom Cruise crazy, or crazy like a fox?) or within one’s particular industry. But it’s just as interesting, and edifying, to read about the folks behind the big names, behind the scenes, whose tales are far less often told.

That’s why I’m particularly pleased with our selection of “the ones to watch” in this issue. We asked all sorts of people in the know to recommend industry up-and-comers and movers and shakers worth turning our gaze to, and the suggestions were impressively eclectic. Yes, we have a few top executives on the list — McNichols Co.’s Herb Goetschius, Universal Screen Arts’ Ken Ellingsen, the Newsoms of Wisteria — but even they are hardly the usual suspects.

As for the others — well, when was the last time the spotlight shone on a group product information architect? But we were told that Michelle Teufel, who holds that title at Premier Farnell, was definitely worth watching, in part because of her Herculean efforts integrating and organizing product data for the company’s thousands of SKUs of electronic and engineering components. And let’s not overlook Ben Dreyer, operations director for Boden, who oversaw much of the British company’s expansion into the U.S. market several years ago. Or Robyn Kubischta, marketing analyst at Musician’s Friend, whose modeling expertise helped the company grow catalog sales 17% on a 10% cut in circulation.

Singling out these individuals for attention, ironically enough, shows just how collaborative our industry is. Merchandising, analysis, IT, distribution — all are integral to the success of a multichannel merchant.

And unlike in some other industries I’ve covered or worked in (ask me about my adventures in the fashion-magazine world sometime), people in this industry were more than happy to cite colleagues and at times even competitors worthy of praise.

You can read about these unsung heroes beginning on page 18. In the meantime, I’d like to praise a few of my colleagues here — not the ones whose bylines you see regularly or whom you run into at conferences but those whose efforts are just as important to the production of Multichannel Merchant’s myriad products.

Just as we were starting to pull this issue together, we abruptly found ourselves without an art director. To make matters worse, our art production director extraordinaire was on a two-week vacation in Italy (and for some reason “forgot” to leave us a number where she could be reached…). While we scrambled to get some freelance help, Willow Tanaka, who handles production for our Website as well as that of sister publication Direct, assumed some print design duties as well, learning InDesign practically by osmosis. And once our art production director extraordinaire, Kate DiMarco, did return from her vacation, she finished whipping the issue into shape in time for our deadline. She then zapped it to our much put-upon senior production coordinator, Brenda Wiley, who ensures that each issue makes it to the printer, and then to you, on time. Willow, Kate, and Brenda, this song’s for you.

P.S. — I mentioned above that myriad departments and skills are key to the success of a multichannel merchant. That’s why our MCM Awards judges rate print catalogs, Websites, and multichannel businesses by myriad criteria, ranging from customer service to merchandising. We’ll be presenting this year’s Awards on May 10 at the Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants (ACCM), at McCormick Place in Chicago. If you’ll be in Chicago, be sure to come to the Awards luncheon; for details visit www.ACCMshow.com.

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