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 named COO.
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 management team.
“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.”