LAS VEGAS –
Nationwide Marketing Group cofounder
Ed Kelly has stepped down as president of
the independent dealer organization he co-founded
40 years ago.
Kelly officially retired from his day-to-day duties
and assumed the title of chairman on Jan. 1. Dealers
were notified in early February, and the formal
announcement was made at the group’s PrimeTime!
conclave here last month.
He was succeeded by executive VP and longtime
partner Robert Weisner, while director Les Kirk was
Kelly will remain involved with the group and continue
to visit member dealers, he told TWICE, but is
leaving the group’s day-to-day operations to Weisner,
Kirk and the other members of Nationwide’s senior
“I started in this business when I was 19,” he told
PrimeTime! attendees. “After 51 years in the industry,
it’s time to go fishing and spend time with my grandchildren.”
Kelly’s retail business was one of seven founding
companies, along with P.C. Richard & Son, that created
Nationwide in 1971. Over the ensuing 40 years,
the buying, marketing and services group has grown
to approximately 3,000 members, 10,000 storefronts
and $12 billion in collective annual sales.
Despite a calendar conflict with BrandSource’s
buy fair in Florida, the show drew the largest crowds
in PrimeTime! history, Weisner said, with some 4,000
attendees, 900 retail companies and 100 vendors
on hand at the Venetian, Sands and Palazzo hotel
and exhibition center complex.
He and Kelly noted that the group has recently expanded
its ranks, grown its market share in appliances,
and that members are opening hundreds of news
stores and remodeling existing ones. “The dealers
are feeling pretty good about business,” Kelly said.
“The mood is very positive.”