Revisiting the Legends in Loss Prevention

Ten years ago I floated the idea of a series of articles called Legends in Loss Prevention to Jack Trlica, managing editor of this magazine. I was approaching my fiftieth birthday and realized that those who had pioneered the retail loss prevention field were not getting any younger. I felt then, and still feel, that were it not for the efforts of a few industry leaders, I might have ended up spending a lifetime doing something a lot less fulfilling. I wanted to pay tribute to these individuals and recognize them for the path they blazed for many of us.

I offered to write the series on one condition: I did not want my name appearing as the author of the articles. My reasons were simple. If readers associated me with the series, I would have been bombarded with “suggestions” on who else should be profiled. Or equally distracting, I might have received calls or notes from people who thought someone else was more deserving of recognition or, even worse, letters and phone calls from people who had something unkind to say about those I admired.

Trlica agreed to my condition, and we began the process of selecting those I would write about. In the beginning, I did not have a number of articles in mind (it ended up being six), but I had initially envisioned writing the series until we ran out of worthwhile candidates to choose from. Although I soon realized that I would not have exhausted the deserving candidates for a few years, writing as a hobby is hard work, and I had other interests and demands on my time. So after six articles, I was ready to do something else. In hindsight, I wish now that I’d written at least a few more articles.

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Choosing whom to write about was not an easy task. We agreed that we would start with industry pioneers who were no longer retail loss prevention practitioners. We also agreed that I would start by writing about Lew Shealy, the only one of the “legends” I wrote about whom I knew personally beforehand. Although I never worked with Shealy, we both worked in the Washington, DC, area in the mid-1970s—I as store detective at Lord & Taylor, and he as director of loss prevention at Woodward & Lothrop. In fairness I should say that I knew of him in those days, but he had no idea who I was. In the mid-1980s our paths would cross in Chicago, Illinois, while he was in charge of loss prevention at Marshall Fields and I was a regional loss prevention manager at Lord & Taylor. We both participated in the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, where we got to know each other a little better. Twenty years later Shealy was retired and living in Alabama. I was a short distance away working at Saks, Inc., headquartered in Birmingham. Getting reacquainted with him and writing an article on him seemed the logical thing to do.

Lewis “Lew” Shealy

Shealy was profiled in the September–October 2006 edition: “Shealy did not approach becoming successful Lew Shealyhaphazardly. He obtained some of his best advice from his uncle, who told him to listen to those who are twenty years older than he until he was about fifty, and listen to those who are twenty years younger than he from then on. Shealy also recognized the importance of having a mentor and knew that to be successful he needed to have both a professional and a personal relationship with each of his bosses.”

After writing about Shealy, I fell into a rhythm. At the end of each interview I’d ask, “Is there someone else you think I should do a Legends in Loss Prevention article about?” I’d usually get multiple suggestions. After conferring with Trlica, I’d contact one of the individuals, explain the project, and ask if they would submit to an interview. Every single one of those I contacted initially protested that there were others more deserving than themselves. But I was persistent and overcame their initial reluctance.

George “Pops” Luciano

George Luciano.rescan2Luciano was profiled in the November–December 2006 edition: “Joe Matthews, director of loss prevention at Academy Sports, put it this way, ‘Pops has the unique ability to adapt to any business situation.’ He went from being a cop to working in a grocery store, department stores, home centers, and pet stores, and then as a consultant and successful business owner, making life-long friends every step of the way.”

While Luciano and the others I profiled were gracious with their time and politely answered all of my questions, they were all exceedingly humble. I learned pretty quickly that if you really want to get to know someone, talk to their significant others, their peers, and those that worked for them. I made it a point to include a quote from one of these individuals in every article. But choosing the best from the many I had to choose from was not an easy task.

Charles “Chuck” Sennewald

Sennewald was profiled in the January–February 2007 edition: “Sennewald took some of his lessons for managers and Chuck Sennewaldturned them into ‘16 Jackass Management Traits,’ a collection of cartoons that further illustrate the importance of making learning memorable. He used these lessons and many others as the founder and first president of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants and while president and member of the International Foundation of Protection Officers.”

One of the things that fascinated me about Sennewald and the others I wrote about was their capacity to be successful in multiple endeavors simultaneously. Whether it was serving as a teacher, author, volunteer, coach, or parent, each individual devoted time to a successful retail loss prevention career but was also capable of defining themselves by more than their paid employment. None of the legends were so engrossed in their jobs that they completely consumed their lives—a lesson important to all of us.

Earl “Duke” Welliver

Welliver was profiled in the March–April 2007 issue: “It was 1948. John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Temple were starring in the just-released movie Fort Apache. Young Earl Welliver was fourteen, living in south central Los Earl WelliverAngeles and hanging out with the Hoover Street Gang.

Although his nickname came later and had nothing to do with the famous actor he looked up to, young Welliver knew that he wanted to be a good guy, not a hoodlum. He went to his parents and told them that if he didn’t get out of there, he wouldn’t make it to fifteen.

His parents enrolled him in a military academy and thus altered the course of history. A teenager headed for trouble became a good student and later a Marine.”

Another interesting phenomenon of all the legends I featured was that they all did something else before landing in retail loss prevention. The variety of experiences they had ranged from digging swimming pools to professional sports to military service to public law enforcement. By the time many of us reading this magazine entered the workforce, many companies had a clearly defined career path for loss prevention executives, often brought about by those featured here. They were in unchartered territory and navigated their way to the top of the profession.

John Christman

Christman was profiled in the May-June 2007 issue: “[Mike] Keenan says that Christman helped him grow by John Christmanrequiring solid preparation before launching new programs, and he credits Christman with teaching him ‘the importance of networking and giving back to the industry.’

Christman’s management philosophy was simple: ‘You begin with people,’ he says. ‘The best programs and techniques in the world are worthless without properly trained and supported people to manage and operate them.’”

Despite their many differences, there was one thing expressed by each of the legends I interviewed. Each one made it clear that whatever success they achieved in loss prevention was the result of surrounding themselves with high-caliber people. And when I talked with many of those people, I heard over and over again how they credited the legend with advancing their careers.

Jack Hayes

Jack HayesHayes was profiled in the July-August 2007 edition: “One of Hayes’ greatest legacies is that, during his twenty-seven years as a consultant, he recommended the creation of numerous senior-level loss prevention executive positions and convinced companies that the wise investment of capital and expense funds, combined with appropriate standards and accountability, would improve shortage and increase profits. His often-repeated truism—‘inventory shortage will rise to its level of tolerance’—convinced senior corporate executives to invest time, money, and personnel on security and loss prevention. In other words, he did not just do a job; he opened the door of opportunity for many of you reading this magazine, and you might not have even known it.”

Getting to know these leaders and sharing their stories with Loss Prevention magazine readers through the Legends in Loss Prevention series made this one of the most rewarding writing projects I’ve ever undertaken. You might like a brief update on each.

Where Are They Now?

Shealy is still living in Alabama, spending his time gardening with Bettie, his wife of sixty-four years. He enjoys fishing, dining out, and keeping up with his five grandchildren.

Luciano and his wife, Jacqui, love to travel and spend time with their four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They spend every August on Balboa Island to escape the heat at home in Palm Desert. Next year they hope to cross a river cruise off their bucket list. Pops still has his sense of humor. Within earshot of Jacqui he told me he has a police report on file for spousal abuse because she won’t fix him pasta anymore.

Sennewald has been beating lung cancer for the last year and a half while working on a collection of short stories he hopes to turn into an autobiography. With ten books to his credit already, he said, “I can’t help but write.”

Welliver is now in his thirteenth year leading the Peaceful Warrior Martial Arts Academy in San Clemente, California. More than 700 underprivileged kids have gone through the program with seventy-five of them receiving black belts. A year ago at age eighty, Welliver was honored by the South Korean government with a seventh-degree black belt and the title of grand master. Although he is in great shape, he had to give up triathlons a couple of years ago because “there was no one left in my age group.”

In 2008 Christman moved from California to Gold Canyon, Arizona, where at the age of eighty he assisted the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office as an active member of the Gold Canyon Citizens Patrol. He passed away on July 11, 2013, at age eighty-four.

In the more than ten years since retiring, Hayes has authored five nonfiction books, two business-related books, and three books he describes as his “fun books” on major league baseball. He and his wife, Darlene, live in The Villages, Florida, where he continues to write while she creates art, some of which is used to illustrate his books.

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