SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — Bill Trawick has served the major appliance and consumer electronics retail business for over half a century. Beginning next year, he gets to take a breather.
Trawick’s career began, and ends, on Long Island, where he entered the industry at the bottom, laboring in a warehouse for NECO Alliance co-op member Intercounty Appliance.
He was especially adept at driving the hi-lo, P.C. Richard principal Gary Richard recalled earlier this fall at Trawick’s final NATM Buying Corp. meeting as group president, and was eventually recruited into the family business.
Trawick quickly rose through the P.C. Richard ranks, eventually serving as operations manager and chief merchant for the burgeoning New York metro area chain.
In the process, he and Gary became close, which made his next move after 29 years, to Texas-based multiregional chain Conn’s, especially trying.
“It was a difficult time,” Trawick recalled at the NATM event. “Gary was my mentor. I was a warehouse worker and he opened so many doors for me.”
Richard, in turn, recalled feeling “devastated” when he received the news on a Friday evening. “It was the worst weekend of my life,” he said.
Trawick went on to serve as merchandising VP for the Texas chain, with responsibility for buying, merchandising and store operations, and continued to contribute to the business in later years as a director and consultant.
But following the retirement of NATM chief Saul Gold in 2000, Trawick returned to New York to lead the disparate group of big-box regional retailers. “We want to be more consistent and cohesive in the way we perform, and we need to focus on coming to the vendors as one group,” he said at his inaugural group meeting as executive director.
Over the next decade and a half Trawick helped steer NATM through seismic shifts in membership, the retail marketplace and consumer technologies, and finally, at age 69, announced his pending retirement in May.
It’s no secret he was ready to step down sooner – his wife had already retired and the couple was looking forward to enjoying some well-earned leisure years – but Trawick felt an obligation to see the group through the worst of the recession of the late 2000s.
Now with his successor, industry veteran Jerry Satoren, in place, along with a new organizational structure that caps his group unity efforts, Trawick is ready to finally pass the baton at year’s end.
“After Conn’s left the group we needed to make some changes, and we needed a new leader to drive those changes, and a new commitment from each of the members,” he told dealers, vendors and colleagues at his farewell address.
Ending on a wistful note, he expressed gratitude for the “extremely wonderful path I’ve been on for all these years. … Thank you for your friendship.”
No Bill, thank you.