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Rick Weinberg

Hall of Fame Honoree 2023

How did you get started in this business?

Early in my college years, I joined a local independent retail company team of modest size and quickly became aware that I could achieve top sales and retail success. I rose through the retail team’s ranks from sales associate, to manager, to regional manager, to merchant and other leadership positions to help the retail company, Fretter Appliance, grow from seven stores to 86 profitable stores over the next 20 years. Fretter was a founding member dealer in a retailer group called Nationwide TV & Appliance. Later, these successful retail experiences and the relationships that were developed in launching these new products opened doors for me with Nationwide. 

Through some of those relationships that I developed, I formally joined the Nationwide team in the early 1990s. I once again found myself in a position to contribute at a small company and help them grow. In the almost three decades that I’ve been a part of the Nationwide team, we’ve grown from 140 independent member retailers to over 5,000. 

Please share some milestones, and what makes you most proud about your career.
As a part of this team, one of my greatest contributions and passions has been envisioning how ENERGY STAR-certified products could create a winning opportunity for independent retailers, our manufacturing partners, the consumers that shopped our member retailer stores and our Nationwide team. Thanks to the commitment of the Nationwide Team and our member retailers, it’s safe to say that we’ve become a showcase for how “Everybody Wins With ENERGY STAR.” In addition, we’ve become an award-winning organization, winning the EPAs ENERGY STAR Partner Of The Year — Sustained Excellence Award now eight years running. 

How would you describe your management style?
Both Fretter and Nationwide were strong, competitive organizations and the path to success was through profitable innovative growth. We had to learn how to grow a little bit everyday, win a little bit everyday and never fall in love with anything we were doing so much that we would not change it to improve it. The blessing of Nationwide is and was its founding retailers, its leadership team and member retailers. We learned if we asked them, our member retailers and vendor partners, what they needed to go win in the marketplace and we delivered that, we would all succeed and win together. 

Which executives in the CE industry do you admire most and why?
I will call out two retailers, of blessed memory: my father Harvey Weinberg who taught me and guided me to have the passion and commitment to cherish my family and friends, demonstrate good character and “never give them a reason to point their finger at you!” The other individual is one of Nationwide Marketing Group’s founders, Lee Guttman. Lee was more than a mentor, but actually a role model who, through actions and words, showed me how to ask our team members, member retailers and vendor partners what they needed from us to assure they had the opportunity to succeed. 

What’s the best business advice you ever received, and how did it help you?
Some of the best advice I received was watching the actions of others, not just listening to their words. Many times over the years, especially during my tenure with Nationwide Marketing Group, we launched a great program and it was a smashing success, and I was asked, “How did you know that would be so successful?” I would reply, “I asked our member dealers what they needed, and did that.” 

Tell us a little bit about your personal life, past and present.
I have always been a retailer and with that comes long hours and days of customer service, but somehow, I had the incredible luck to meet a wonderful girl and “Marry up, way up” and I know that and am very grateful. Three beautiful children, their three lovely spouses, 11 grandchildren and their two grand-spouses and being born into a loving family is more blessings than I truly deserved, and I look forward to spending some quality time with them while we can.

What will be the future of our business, and of retailing, in the coming years?
I think the future of consumer retailing is exciting and will be exciting, and, if I was 29 or 39 years old, I would love to spend the next 30 years in retailing. Retailing has been in a constant state of change all of my working career, and I suspect it will continue to change perpetually. As I mentioned above, never fall in love with anything so much you would not change it to improve it and stay close to your teammates and colleagues and you will find the path to winning in retail.