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At ALA Convention, Shull Focuses on Future: ‘We Can Endure This’

Army & Air Force Exchange Service Director/CEO Tom Shull shared the Department of Defense largest retailer’s vision for preserving the benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic at the American Logistics Association’s annual convention.

“Team Exchange continues to address the pandemic—and we will be ready in the face of uncertainty,” Shull told the convention’s virtual audience, which included leaders from the Exchange and other military retailers.

Director/CEO Tom Shull

ALA is a nonprofit trade association that promotes, protects and enhances quality-of-life benefits for service members, military retirees and military families. Shull was among military resale leaders addressing the attendees Oct. 20 during the virtual conference, which focused on “Resale Resurgence.”

During the conference, Shull briefed the Exchange’s three-year strategic plan. For the rest of the year, Shull said, the Exchange remains focused on the protecting the force with safe, secure, sanitized shopping; maintaining workforce stability; and conserving cash.

In 2021, the Exchange will work to rebuild earnings, with a focus on capital expenditure investments to keep up with changing customer service expectations and improved tracking of return on investments, especially as shoppers want greater flexibility and a more robust online experience.

For 2022 and beyond, the Exchange looks to restore earnings performance, with a return to dividends of more than $200 million a year within two to three years.

“We can endure this and are on the road to recovery,” Shull said. “We can get back to work and build top-line and bottom-line earnings.”

Shull highlighted several Exchange initiatives, including:

  • Fulfilling 150,000 buy online, pickup in store orders, 13,000 curbside orders and 24,000 personal shopping orders for quarantined troops during the pandemic.
  • Serving 165,000 grab-and-go school meals to Warfighters’ children in DoDEA schools overseas.
  • Supporting troops on the front lines of the pandemic with mobile field Exchanges at the Javits Center in New York City, Joint Base San Antonio-For Sam Houston, Fort Drum and Fort Benning.
  • Hiring heroes as the organization marches toward its goal of hiring 50,000 Veterans and military spouses.
  • Welcoming home Veterans with in-person and online shopping benefits, which include military-exclusive pricing and sales tax savings.
  • Increasing donations at point of sale for Army Emergency Relief and Air Force Assistance Fund. More than $2.3 million has been donated since the partnership began in 2017, with more than $1.4 million raised so far this year.
  • Reimagining fourth-quarter sales with 12 weeks of Black Friday deals, which launched Labor Day weekend.

Shull also praised military resale’s collaborations, highlighting strong partnerships among the Navy Exchange Service Command, Marine Corps Exchange, Coast Guard Exchange and the Defense Commissary Agency.

“It is such an honor to be part of military resale,” Shull said. “It’s incredible how much we have leaned forward during the pandemic, protecting Warfighters, the workforce and the benefit.”

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