On behalf of the Lollipop Guild I would like to welcome John Eck into the industry. As you probably know John is the new CEO of Mattress Firm and is already hard at work learning his way into the category. In the past, I have been pretty tough on industry outsiders but allow me to put forward a positive opinion on the hiring of Mr. Eck.
As soon as the announcement about John was made, I started getting phone calls from people pointing out that it does not appear that John has any retail experience, which given the job he is taking over, could come in handy. This is true, but is it absolutely necessary? Consider his background:
- He has worked with Univision for the past three years as their Chief Local Media Officer. Univision has over 126 television and radio stations across the country so this is no small job, and if you’re going to do that successfully, you have to have some very strong leadership skills which will be critically important in his new role.
- John was also Univision’s EVP of Technology, Operations, and Engineering. Give thought to how important operations are to a company like Mattress Firm with 2,500 locations. I understand that running a media company is nothing like running a national chain of sleep shops but his experience will serve him well. He should be able to look at the operational opportunities facing Mattress Firm, diagnose the problems, discover ways to cut cost, engineer new ways to improve the process, and hopefully, make them more efficient. Two totally different industries but many of the principals remain the same no matter what business you’re running. How about the importance of technology these days? Given where things are going in our business and the integration of technology into just about everything that we do, I like the fact that Mr. Eck will be able to apply that knowledge to make Mattress Firm better on multiple levels. Any chance John knows a few things that mattress executives don’t when it comes to technology?
- Mr. Eck was in the media business for the past several years, but he was with General Electric for a stretch before all of that. He has worked with GE Capital, GE Power Systems, GE Aircraft Engines, and GE Lighting. I wonder if the people at NBC complained about the fact that he was not a “MEDIA GUY” prior to him taking a top spot at NBC?
- John graduated from Indiana University, (how wholesome is that?), and is a recipient of the very distinguished Boy Scouts of America 2001 Communications Art Industries “Good Scout” Award. Any of you out there have one of those?
This guy has worked in multiple industries and has been very successful. Remember that some of the top companies in our category right now are being run by people that didn’t know a thing about mattresses, they were just tech-savvy and understood how to market products on the internet. Fresh thinking is a good thing and can be a great thing if the strategy supporting that new opinion is solid and ultimately puts the consumer in the middle of everything they do.
For me this all comes down to good leadership skills. If John does a great job of listening, surrounds himself with a good mix of insiders and outsiders, convinces his own team that his plan and purpose are worth fighting for, and helps Mattress Firm realize their potential as a massive omnichannel business, then good things will happen for the company.
My son Nick just finished up his track season and was running a very strong 400M race, finishing in 1st place by a comfortable margin at most of his meets. At the end of their season, he went up against this kid that had some serious wheels on him. At the start, Nick got the jump and was out in front as usual but after turn two, this other boy started to pass him by. Nick can’t stand to lose so he turned it up a notch, but in the end, it wasn’t enough and Nick took second in that meet. The bad news is that Nick lost. The good news is that he got his personal record that day turning in his fastest time of the year.
Competition is good. If Mattress Firm does what it’s capable of then you are going to see even more advertising from them which brings more awareness to the category. (I’m guessing John knows a few things about buying media efficiently). When Mattress Firm steps it up, it will push everyone supplying them and the competitors going up against them to bring their best game and in the end, that can bring great results for everyone. Maybe even a personal record.
Well John, once again welcome to the industry. You are now a part of something very special and are going to meet some of the best people you will ever know! Best of luck on this new journey.