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Day 1 of the 2018 NRF PROTECT Loss Prevention Conference and Expo

Under the bright skies and warm weather in Dallas, TX, the Lone Star State corralled the retail industry Tuesday morning as the 2018 NRF PROTECT Loss Prevention Conference and Expo took the stage from the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. Following an evening welcome reception Monday night, this year’s conference once again commenced with the presentation of colors and introductory statements from Bob Moraca, NRF vice president of loss prevention.

“Over the next several days, LP professionals will have the opportunity to equip themselves with valuable industry knowledge, techniques and the latest technologies so they can tackle their biggest loss prevention challenges” said Moraca. “For the first time, this year the National Retail Federation (NRF) has partnered with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) to provide force multipliers for the industry. Attendees will leave feeling informed and confident in their ability to PROTECT the people, assets, and brands they serve.”

The day’s events then kicked off with a general session led by Deborah Fergusen, local NBC News anchor, leading a panel discussion on “Retail to the Rescue.” Featuring Mike Krell, vice president of operations for the Houston division with The Kroger Company, Joe Matthews, vice president of loss prevention with Academy Sports, Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture, and B.J. Powers, vice president for the Gulf region with The Home Depot, the panel discussed retail’s response to Hurricane Harvey. Each member discussed the importance of having an effective crisis management and disaster recovery plan as keys to emergency response, along with the ability to be flexible and make quick decisions. But just as important to the success of the recovery plans was the overarching need to take care of people and the inspiration provided by those that came together to lead recovery efforts.

This was followed by moving conversation with Captain Tammie Jo Shults with Southwest Airlines. On the morning to April 17, the Southwest flight that Captain Shults was piloting suffered a deadly engine failure, with one of the plane’s engines exploding mid-flight. Yet despite deafening noise and rapid decompression inside the cabin, Shults and the flight team assessed the situation calmly, treated the symptoms, and promptly developed a strategy to land safely. In her first public presentation since those harrowing events, she humbly shared her story and the inspiring response of the entire flight crew with the audience.

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I dealt with the machinery, but my crew dealt with the people,” Shults revealed. “It’s a leader’s responsibility to serve people by trusting them—especially during a crisis. We have to listen and understand that flexibility is survivability, and that’s what I experienced with my team. People valuing people, and selflessly facing the crisis is what got us through it—together.”

Morning and afternoon concurrent sessions for each of the session tracks were next on the day’s agenda, sandwiched around lunch in the expo hall. The concurrent sessions featured many open forums that allowed the audience to actively participate in the conversations, leading to active and productive discussions that were informative and engaging. The day’s speakers were knowledgeable and well prepared, getting the most out of the information and the audiences while sharing their presentation messages.

Following the afternoon concurrent sessions was a ceremony welcoming Bob MacLea, former senior vice president of loss prevention for TJX Companies, into the NRF’s Loss Prevention Council “Ring of Excellence”. In a presentation that was both sincere and touching, members of the TJX family led by Rick Peck and Peter Betrovski offered a tribute that celebrated his tremendous accomplishments—and added a little bit of humor to help us all wash it down. Bob would have approved, and would have been very proud.

The final General Session of the afternoon featured a conversation with Theresa Payton, founder of Fortalice Solutions and a former White House chief information officer. Payton discussed how managing dynamic and complex cyber risks require a combination of old school risk management and compliance with newer and more innovative technologies. Mixing cautionary tales with comprehensive insight, the discussion also included a Q & A session with Christian Beckner, senior director of retail technology with the National Retail Federation.

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The day’s events then ended with a networking session, allowing attendees an opportunity to relax and mingle after a busy and productive first day ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled sessions.

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