“My first job in retail, other than stocking shelves in high school, was with Sears, Roebuck and Co. in Chicago,” said Todd Noden, the Alabama Retail Association’s 2020-2021 board chairman.
That planning and budget position with one of America’s oldest retailers taught him key aspects of the retail economic model, he said. His career next shifted into management consulting with a focus on strategy development for large corporations in several different industries, including retail.
After moving back into company management, Todd served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer at a Georgia carpet manufacturing company and as vice president of accounting and financial analysis for a Southeast convenience store and gasoline retail chain.
In April 2012, he became chief financial officer for Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc. Through the years, his job title grew to include executive vice president and chief operating officer. In December 2019, he was promoted to president.
His diverse responsibilities at Books-A-Million include finance, information technology, warehousing, distribution, store operations, human resources, construction, maintenance and legal. “Every day is truly different,” he said.
The Midwest native attended Purdue University on a Naval ROTC scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1985. After serving four years as a Navy officer, he received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1991.
“Because of the complexity of the business, heavy analysis of data and the need for strong business systems,” working in the retail industry “fit my background,” Todd said.
Collective Voice and Peer Resource
Todd began serving on the Alabama Retail Association board in 2013 and joined the executive committee in 2016. His two-year term as chairman begins Jan. 1, 2020.
He said his goal as chairman is threefold:
- Foster grassroots involvement in legislative issues;
- Help members become aware of the resources available through the association; and
- Help members leverage their membership to network.
The Alabama Retail Association “provides a collective voice on the issues facing retailers today,” said its chairman. “Alabama Retail Association monitors legislative activity, makes members aware of pending legislation and solicits feedback from members on legislation so that their voice is heard. This would be impossible for individual retailers to do on their own.”
Even competitors need to discuss their common issues and work together for the common good, he said.
“The association is a resource for sharing information and connecting retailers to network and discuss approaches to dealing with problems they face,” Todd said. “Retailers are competitive by nature, but it makes sense to gain input on issues you may be facing from your peers.”
“We operate in an omnichannel world where the customer purchases products in a variety of ways that include physical stores, online and a combination of both.” – TODD
MORE ON BOOKS-A-MILLION
Birmingham-based Books-A-Million is the nation’s second largest bookseller. The company operates more than 260 stores in 31 states, employing more than 5,000. A thousand of those employees work in Alabama. BAM, founded in 1917 in Florence, has been an Alabama Retail member since 1984.