Top loss prevention professionals, solution providers, staff from Loss Prevention Magazine and the Loss Prevention Foundation, and members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s Asset Protection Leaders Council and Loss Prevention Foundation Board of Directors gathered together in Charlotte, North Carolina this week at The Ballantyne Hotel for the 2022 Annual Meeting, once again proving just how much stronger we as an industry can be when we join together.
Originally scheduled to take place in Sanibel Island before Hurricane Ian devastated the area last month, event leaders had to pivot quickly to ensure the show would go on. But pivot they did, putting on a meeting better than any before (a group effort, though LPF Operations and Recertification Coordinator Ashley Bartol, LPQ, was the glue that held it all together—thank you Ashley!)
Sticking with the Cheeseburger in Paradise theme planned for Sanibel’s tropical location, the three-day event started on Nov. 1 with an opening reception where attendees could mix, mingle, and yes, enjoy both angus beef and Beyond Beef cheeseburgers, among other delicious options.
Providing island ambiance was musician Steve Farst, who drove all the way from Sanibel Island to perform after his own home was damaged in the hurricane. Everyone had such a fun time that the reception was extended an extra hour—and of course many chose to extend the fun even further following the reception.
Foundational Coaching, Solution Provider Insights, and Vendor Advisory Board Meeting
After a collaboration breakfast, day two of the meeting started with a laugh as Kevin McMenimen, LPC, chief operating officer at LPM Media Group, digital consultant for LPM, and founding board member for the LPF, walked attendees through a fun poll, asking questions such as what they wanted to be when they grew up and what their secret talents are.
Vector Security President Dave Fisher then introduced Vaney Hariri, co-founder of Think 3D Solutions, who spoke about his POWER (prework, open, win-win, engagement, resolution) coaching method.
“Leaders are responsible for the net result,” Hariri said. “You aren’t responsible for what you hoped would happen or wished would happen—you’re responsible for the result.”
While RILA ALPC members departed for pre-planned store visits at several area retailers, LPM’s new Vice President Stefanie Hoover, CFI, moderated a panel discussion on “Making the Switch from LP Executive to Solution Provider.” The interactive discussion also featured LPF Board Chairman and Integritus Group Senior Vice President Mark Stinde, MBA, LPC; CONTROLTEK President Tom Meehan, CFI; Gatekeeper Systems Director of Sales Paul Jones, LPC; ThinkLP Senior Director of Loss Prevention Solutions Tony Sheppard, CFI, LPC; and Hanwha Techwin Head of Business Development Jordan Rivchun.
The panel discussed misconceptions about switching to the vendor side of LP, the importance of partnerships, building your brand, and how crucial preparedness and honesty are when selling to LP executives.
After lunch, Hoover joined LPM Media Strategist Ben Skidmore and Marketing Consultant Merek Bigelow to present the magazine’s progress with its Vendor Advisory Board. Among the milestones discussed were LPM’s acquisition by the LPF; an evolution in its print strategy to produce two special editions as well as a quarterly print issue; an enhanced digital website; and extensive research that has been carried out to better understand today and tomorrow’s readers.
Looking forward to 2023, the team said its focus will be on building LP community conversations through more events, expanding solution provider engagement, and growing its custom content for readers both online and in print.
A Night to Remember
When Loss Prevention Magazine was founded in 2001, there was nothing else like it. There were magazines focused on retail, and other areas of running a retail business, but nothing that spoke specifically to the topics that were top-of-mind for LP professionals.
When Jim Lee and Jack Trlica decided to launch the magazine at an NRF show in Vancouver, they did so with a desire to further legitimize the LP profession. They wanted to provide something that LP professionals could give to the executives at their companies, so they could better understand the LP world.
Over the past two decades, LPM has done all of that and more. It has established itself as the industry leader in loss prevention news and education, and as the premier voice of the LP industry, fulfilling its mission statement to provide in-depth, timely articles of interest to LP professionals, security, and retail management. It has grown to go beyond a print issue, to include a website, daily e-newsletters, podcasts, whitepapers, webinars, videos, and social media content. And absolutely none of this would have been possible without Jim Lee and Jack Trlica.
At dinner Wednesday night, Lee and Trlica were honored for their accomplishments and all that they’ve done to further the loss prevention profession. A montage of videos from different industry leaders offering their sincerest congratulations to the men was played, and speeches were given in honor of both of the LP legends.
In addition, Deputy Assistant Director of Homeland Security Investigations Raul Aguilar was given the LP Magpie Award on behalf on the entire Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) team for all of the work the team has done working with retailers in the fight against organized retail crime.
Utah AG Sean Reyes
To open day two, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spoke about how he came into the attorney general role, and what he’s been focused on since taking the job.
“I strive to be a public servant. We have public servants from all different ideological backgrounds, and what we do is not a partisan process,” Reyes said. “Sometimes it can be politicized, but for the most part, what we do, we do collaboratively.”
He was first appointed as attorney general in 2013, and several issues were immediately brought to his attention when he took office, including human trafficking, opioids, and mental behavioral health challenges—all things which can link to organized retail crime.
And though Utah does not border Mexico, Reyes said he has found that many of these issues start there.
“Every state is a border state today because so much of the criminal activity, as soon as it crosses over the border, it spreads all across the country,” Reyes said.
Human trafficking victims, for example, are often brought across the border and into the US. Once here, they can be used as mules in organized retail crime operations, leading to billions of dollars in loss for businesses every year.
Because of this, his office has been trying a variety of strategies to stop organized retail crime and the other crimes like human trafficking that it can fund.
“I recovered millions of dollars in lost Home Depot goods in one of my first operations as attorney general,” Reyes said. “Back then, hardly any of my AG colleagues had any interest. They didn’t know what ORC was. I didn’t have a lot of support, but I believed in the fight, and over two years we gathered significant data to show that if we come together and collaborate, we are stronger together. And after two years our legislation came to us and asked if they could fund resources for fighting ORC because they wanted to help. Interestingly, in these types of situations, once something gets a lot of momentum and starts being written about, many others get interested. I’m proud to say today that we have been hammering with my colleagues at the state AG level, trying to push local DAs also in that direction, to pay more attention and dedicate more resources to fighting ORC. I hope you’re feeling and sensing that.”
LPF Town Hall
One of the highlights of the Annual Meeting was the LPF Town Hall, led by Paul Jaeckle, LPC and Meredith Plaxco, LPC. Meant to be an open discussion, the LP leaders in the room collaboratively discussed the biggest issues in loss prevention today.
A central theme around all of these topics was that despite retailers being traditionally seen as competitors, retail LP professionals need to work together to fight retail crime.
“You have to be unified so once you solve the problem at your store, it doesn’t just move to another store,” Jaeckle explained.
The level of violence that is acceptable in society right now and that makes its way into retail stores, for example, is a massive problem that will take more than one person to solve. With staffing issues already a challenge, violence in the stores is starting to become an even bigger concern for retailers than the much-discussed organized retail crime.
One retailer said they have seen a 67 percent increase in violence against their store associates in the past year—a truly disturbing statistic.
“There’s an opportunity for us as an industry to better define the source of violence in our stores,” said one LP executive. “We’re seeing less violence relating to ORC and more with habitual offenders who live in the neighborhoods our stores are in who aren’t necessarily taking merchandise back to a fence. The precision with which we discuss this as an industry will really help define our response from our teams, but also what we need from our vendor partners.”
Another attendee said the thing that keeps them up at night is juvenile crime and mental health. They asked the room if there was something retailers could do to help their communities, because juveniles are committing heinous acts and going without punishment, leading to their activity only growing worse as they get older.
“Our staff is 92 percent women, and what concerns me is how violence can creep in from people’s personal lives,” said one retailer. “Also, incidents happening within a mile or two of our stores that can creep in, like active shooters—how will our stores respond to these sorts of events?”
As someone pointed out, unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. It could be useful for retailers and industry organizations to join together and put out some sort of public service announcement about how serious all of these issues happening in the retail world truly are. For example, a PSA about how items from online marketplaces can be stolen could slow the demand, ultimately slowing the activity that contributes to the violence in stores.
Another piece of the troubling retail crime puzzle is that with staffing shortages, many stores have started hiring more teenagers or less qualified individuals who may struggle to handle situations like shoplifting, ORC, and store violence. “What are we doing as an industry to recognize this and simplify the message so you make sure when you have an inexperienced 19-year-old running your store at night, you can equip them?”
“A big part of the focus needs to be on training,” said Jac Brittain, LPC, LPM editorial director. “Right now, the LPF is putting together a course about violence, active shooters, and addressing violent situations. We need to start focusing on preventing violence, focusing even more on customer service, looking at that and other central business imperatives at a fundamental level to try to address some of the issues that are leading to the violence in the stores.”
In addition to more training for associates, attendees agreed that more open discussions like this one were crucial to curbing the increase in retail crime.
Most of the quotes from the Town Hall were not attributed to a specific person in order to maintain the candid off-the-record nature of the event.
LPF Board Meeting
After lunch, Terry Sullivan, LPC, led the Loss Prevention Foundation Board Meeting, reporting on the many successes the LPF has seen in the past year.
With two months still left in the year, the Foundation shattered the previous LPQ/LPC certification record of 304. The LPF has awarded more than 400 certifications so far in 2022, and projects it will reach 450 by the year’s end. Altogether, we are currently nearing 3,400 LPQ/LPC certified professionals.
Part of this success can be attributed to organizations like TJX, Meijer, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ahold Delhaize, ALTO, Amazon, Dollar General, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who encourage employees to obtain these certifications.
Another helpful program has been the new Retail Certification Support Cohort, which creates a community for those working for their certifications, motivating and encouraging them to complete them. For those in the Cohort Program, 90 percent pass the LPQ/LPC exam on their first try.
Other accomplishments highlighted in the Board Meeting included: LPF joining RILA’s APLC as a strategic partner; holding the first certification workshop at RILA’s AP Conference; growth in the foundation’s social media channels; acquiring LPM; and a new educational course focused on ORC training for law enforcement, created in partnership with RILA, CLEAR, and the LPM Media Group.
Community Outreach Discussion
Wrapping up the 2022 Annual Meeting, Oscar Arango, LPC, vice president of asset protection at Target, led a discussion about community outreach, and how his team’s approach has changed since the start of the pandemic.
“We started to think, why do we send so many people to jail, and what are some alternatives we can put into place?” Arango said. “We also protect the reputation of the company, and every interaction our team has had with a bad guy can go viral and really impact our brand. So, how we approach those situations has a big impact on the reputation of our companies. That’s when we started thinking about changing our approach and leading with humanity.”
You can read more about what Arango and other LP executives are doing to impact their communities in this story from our Summer 2022 Issue.
At the end of the day, attendees were welcomed to a post-meeting reception, where they could discuss their takeaways from the event, and say their goodbyes.
This event would not have been possible without the event sponsors, who demonstrated their immense commitment to the retail loss prevention industry.
We can’t wait to see everyone at the 2023 Annual Meeting in Sanibel Island, Florida!