Industry leader and longtime NACS employee Teri Richman, 54, died on Saturday, Dec. 19 after a long fight with cancer.
Over the course of her 20-plus years at NACS, Richman was involved in nearly every major industry issue and initiative, from defeating beer-gas bans in the mid-1980s, to improving store security in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to introducing technology standards in the mid-1990s, to fighting outrageous credit card fees with the founding of the Merchants Payments Coalition in 2005.
“Teri was a committed risk taker, advocate, researcher and educator, and our industry is significantly better off as a result of her insight and tireless commitment,” said NACS President and CEO Hank Armour. “She will be greatly missed.”
Richman joined NACS in 1982 as its first in-house federal lobbyist. At the time, the industry faced intense and quick-moving legislation in California as municipalities began to legislate beer-gas bans and prohibited the concurrent sales of these products at the same location. Richman and NACS were instrumental in the development of a coalition to overcome this legislation, a group known as Food and Fuel Retailers for Economic Equality (FREE).
Through compelling research and strong advocacy, FREE successfully secured passage of legislation in California, which became known as “the ban on bans,” effectively prohibiting individual municipalities from enacting beer-gas bans. The research and public relations underpinnings of that effort stand today as effective tools in helping convenience store retailers lobby against beer-gas proposals. Moreover, NACS’ effort, along with the Michigan License Beverage Association, resulted in the development of one of the industry’s first major operations programs focused on the responsible sale of alcohol beverages. NACS’ Techniques of Alcohol Management, also known as “TAM,” has been the foundation of the convenience store industry’s alcohol server training ever since.
As the issue of store safety and security emerged in the late 1980s, Richman helped develop the NACS Robbery Deterrence Training Program, as well as seminal NACS research projects on the distribution of crime in convenience stores, the circumstances around crimes of violence and assault in convenience stores and the effectiveness of counter measures. Richman also served as the industry’s voice on security, including a 1996 appearance on ABC’s 20/20 in a segment dedicated to convenience store security. The convenience store industry’s embrace of robbery deterrence measures led to a significant reduction in convenience store robberies during the 1990s.
In the mid-1990s, Richman was promoted to senior vice president of research, and in 1999 to senior vice president of research and development. In this role, she oversaw the development of the 1995 and 2000 NACS future studies, The 1995 Future Study and The Outlook for the Convenience Store Industry Through 2005, Beyond 2005, respectively. In addition, Richman played a key role in significantly enhancing NACS’ annual State of the Industry Report, the industry’s premier benchmarking and performance report.
Richman was an avid student and supporter of technology. She was an integral player in NACS’ technology standards effort, including the POS-Back Office interoperability demonstration at NACStech 2002, where NACS members saw standards in action for the first time. Richman also foresaw the advent of the Internet as a business tool. She spoke at the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) 10th anniversary in 2004 and was instrumental in bringing the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to NACStech 2007.
As senior vice president of public affairs and research, Richman also led the fight for lower credit card processing costs and fair credit card fees. She was instrumental in founding the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC) and was elected as its secretary when it was founded in 2005. Today, the coalition’s member associations collectively represent about 2.7 million stores with approximately 50 million employees, and have significantly elevated the issue of outrageous credit card interchange fees before Congress and the general public.
Richman’s desire to tackle big issues continued after she left NACS in 2006 to take on a career in consulting. Before her illness, she was working with a group supporting fair and equitable health-care reform.
Perhaps even more significant than her impact on the industry was Richman’s effect on the people within the industry. She was invariably the center of some great conversation or debate, whether around serious topics or the latest pop culture news, and her cleverly and lovingly crafted resolutions were as eagerly anticipated as the achievements they recognized.
Richman was a graduate of Boston University and is survived by her twin adult children, Nathan and Katharine. The family is planning a memorial service in late January for family and close friends.