By Steve Smith
A recent visit to Eastern Europe renewed EVP and Chief Operating Officer Dave Nelson’s appreciation for associates who serve America’s troops at the tip of the spear and those directorates supporting from HQ.
During his visit from Oct. 21 through Oct. 26, Nelson saw firsthand how associates in Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania and Poland carry out the Exchange mission of caring for deployed troops.
Nelson also lauded associates at Germany’s Kaiserslautern Military Community and Spangdahlem AB, where he visited for two days before heading to Kosovo.
“It was truly an honor to meet our Eastern Europe teammates and those at KMC and Spangdahlem and see them in action,” he said. “They’re dedicated and focused on serving the troops and supporting the mission.”
Most associates in Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania and Poland are local nationals. Many started with the Exchange in the mid-1990s, when stores opened in the Balkans to serve NATO peacekeepers, including more than 20,000 American troops.
Nelson presented challenge coins to associates for their exemplary job performances.
Nelson said he was equally impressed at how the IT, Logistics and Merchandising directorates get technology to austere sites and keep shelves stocked with popular products.
“Pulling off these kinds of missions takes a top-to-bottom effort,” Nelson said. “I was so impressed with the work directorates were doing to support the field and how associates were so focused on the customers.
“We’ve become so good at providing support in locations under the most challenging and dangerous conditions that I sometimes think we take it for granted. There is not another company who could pull off the things our team routinely accomplishes.
“Wars, natural disasters, border missions…nothing prevents our team from supporting the troops,” Nelson continued. “They simply roll up their sleeves and make it happen. It’s business as usual for them. It really is amazing to watch them in action.”
Installation commanders told Nelson that they were extremely pleased with the Exchange’s support and presence.
“The teams were honored to welcome Dave to Eastern Europe and show him how they support troops by delivering a taste of home to Warfighters in the region,” said Jason Rosenberg, senior vice president of the Europe and Southwest Asia Region. “This is combat retail at its best.”