After 30-plus years, Bob Vereen has retired from the Worldwide DIY Council, an association of active U. S. and Canadian exporters.
He joined the group as executive secretary when it consisted of a dozen members who wanted to network with each other about export opportunities and built it up to a membership of nearly 150 at its peak.
Along the way, the organization began inviting key retailing executives to address its members at annual and midyear meetings, including DIY pioneers like Christian DuBois, founder of France's Castorama, and Manfred Maus, longtime leader of Germany's OBI chain.
Under Vereen's direction, it began sponsoring group pavilions in trade shows in emerging markets such as Poland's BUDMA and Mexico's Expo Nacional Ferretera, as well as in established DIY markets such as the UK and France. Last year, under Executive Secretary Don Droesch, the Council had a group pavilion at the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany, for the first time.
One of the group's sales-building efforts was to gather catalogs from members, put them in giant 3-ring binders and have them shipped by the Commerce Department to the libraries of U. S. embassies around the world, where interested agents, retailers and distributors could examine the catalogs and contact members of the group.