Wolverines face tough Montana squad in First Round matchup – but will news of Toys R Us closing its stores distract team from task at hand?
Former UMAA athletic director Dave Brandon is a smart man.
Brandon’s sterling career spans various industries and multiple American corporate behemoths.
Of course, the foundation of Brandon’s career was built while playing football for UMAA and its longtime head football coach, Bo Schembechler.
Brandon learned valuable lessons from Schembechler. Those lessons served him well as he climbed the ranks at Proctor & Gamble, Valassis, Domino’s Pizza, and, of course, Toys R Us.
The veteran CEO led successful business strategies as the steward of each of these companies.
On January 5th, 2010, Brandon came home to Ann Arbor when he was asked by then UMAA president, Mary Sue Coleman, to succeed Bill Martin as the school’s athletic director.
Brandon immediately instituted a Marketing department and began to deliver revenue surpluses to the university that totaled in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Timing seemed to be an unlucky nemesis for Brandon during his tenure as the chief executive of UMAA athletics as mediocrity consumed the two main revenue sports at the school.
Brandon saw it fit to join then-head football coach Rich Rodriguez in the film room to offer his counsel on play calling and such.
When Rich Rodriguez failed to deliver the successes expected by UMAA football fans, Brandon dismissed Rodriguez and selected Brady Hoke as the man to take over the storied program.
Brady Hoke was not good at coaching football.
Dave Brandon was, some may say, less good at being an athletic director in the areas that seem to matter to most people other than the university accountants.
One of Brandon’s interesting decisions was to pay a sky writing service to fly over Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium and fill the sky with lettering tailing from the sky writing plane that read GO BLUE during the Spartans’ home football game on Saturday, September 14th, 2013 when Michigan State hosted Youngstown State.
Brandon and his Marketing team in Ann Arbor initially denied he or UMAA had anything to do with the stunt. Later, some smart people uncovered receipts that showed that UMAA did, indeed, arrange for the sky writing to take place above Spartan Stadium, the home of UMAA’s non-rival.
A year after the sky writing strategy, Brandon and his Marketing team devised a strategy whereby UMAA fans would be given two free tickets to the UMAA vs Minnesota game that took place on Saturday, September 27th, 2014.
This strategy didn’t resonate with traditional UMAA fans who have long held the belief that the value of a ticket to a UMAA football game in their home stadium is worth more than a can of Coca-Cola.
Brandon also was known to engage with concerned emailers late into the night, perhaps after last call. Here’s a look at a response of his to a fan who might not have liked whatever that week’s EDM choices were that were blaring out of the UMAA stadium loudspeakers during timeouts –
Just a few weeks after the Marketing partnership that Brandon and his team established with Coca-Cola, Dave Brandon resigned from his post as UMAA’s athletic director.
It wasn’t long before Dave Brandon was right back to crafting business strategies within America’s corporate ecosystem.
Toys R Us came calling and Brandon – a self-described lifelong toy aficionado – accepted the the offer over which Wall Street was abuzz.
After a sabbatical of a handful of months in which he recharged his battery and re-honed his Board Room chops, Toys R Us named Dave Brandon its Chief Executive Officer on June 2nd, 2015.
With buoyant enthusiasm, Brandon took on the challenge of resurrecting the once-proud retailer that had fallen on hard times due to various dynamics including but not limited to market forces, curious managerial decisions, and, of course, bad luck.
In a U.S, Bankruptcy Court filing on March 15, 2017, Brandon and his team determined that the best way to maximize their financial recoveries due to the aforementioned dynamics was to liquidate the existing inventory. In response to the decision, Brandon explained “Toys R Us found itself in serious default on our financing covenants”. Earnings following Christmas 2017 were about half of what the company typically earns in a normal year.
And, today, Toys R Us has announced that after 70 years of serving the American public with toys and goodies, the company will close all of its stores (around 750 nationwide and more internationally).
Around 30,000 Toys R Us employees will be impacted directly by the company’s decision to close up shop.
Going forward, Dave Brandon will undoubtedly illustrate his talents as a skilled marketer and corporate leader. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at Toys R Us leaves a lasting legacy.
SpartansWire wishes Dave Brandon nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
The pertinent question for right now will be, will John Beilein’s UMAA team be able to avoid the distractions that will certainly come their way due to this development?
In tribute to Dave Brandon, SpartansWire has provided the links below to two important videos.
The first video is this morning’s report on the Toys R Us announcement as it appeared on the CBS News program “The Early Show.”
The second video features Dave Brandon sitting down for an engaging conversation about corporate leadership with the Dean of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Some wonderful lessons to be gleaned from this discussion.
Enjoy, engage, and enlighten.