Inside This Issue - News
Industry mourns ECRM’s Bowlus
August 29th, 2011
NEW YORK – Charlie Bowlus is being remembered by chain drug and manufacturing executives as much for his disarming warmth and sincerity as for breaking new ground in retailer-supplier relations.
Bowlus, founder and chief executive officer of ECRM, died this month of complications from emergency surgery. He was 64.
He would not want to be mourned, but rather remembered for “his passion and vision for improving the way companies do business,” said his son, ECRM president Mitch Bowlus. “His courage, determination, humility, and his love of life have undoubtedly touched all of our lives.”
Charlie Bowlus started ECRM (Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing Inc.) in 1994 as a new way to bring suppliers and retailers together. The company holds dozens of events every year — which have become some of the most popular conferences in the industry — in which participants meet for 20 minutes at a time in what are called Efficient Promotion Planning Sessions (EPPS).
“Charlie has changed the way that retailers and manufacturers work together,” said CVS Caremark Corp. executive vice president of merchandising, supply chain, marketing and advertising Mike Bloom. “I remember way back when Charlie was constantly trying to get CVS to use this new conference he called ECRM. I was the category manager for cosmetics at the time. After months and months of Charlie continuing to sell me on why CVS should use ECRM, we decided to give it a try. After all, it’s Charlie, so how could we say no?
“Well, Charlie was right, like he usually was. We tried the ECRM cosmetics conference in California and CVS has been attending ECRM ever since. We will miss Charlie dearly, but he will live on with us forever.”
Retired Johnson & Johnson executive Frank Maione, who first met Bowlus in the late ’80s, said the ECRM chief always greeted him with a handshake and a hug and “How are you man?”
Remembering Bowlus as ingratiating and genuine, Maione said those qualities were epitomized by “that big Charlie smile.”
“Charlie is an icon in our industry,” Maione added. “He worked and lived his vision for collaboration and always looked for new and better ways to simplify and bring peopled together. Charlie was a gentleman and a gentle man. I wish I had one more handshake and a hug and heard him say, “How are you Man?” Charlie will be missed but his legacy not forgotten.”
In addition to developing ECRM’s novel meetings format, Bowlus introduced software tools to streamline the buyer-seller process.
National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson said Bowlus “provided the leadership and vision to expand his company, and was able to identify areas that served many within our industry and beyond. Charlie was one of the first individuals to recognize the importance of technology as a vehicle to enable its users to make better and more efficient decisions. He was both a competitor and friend of NACDS and his presence will be missed at future NACDS events. More importantly, Charlie’s contributions and legacy will be long remembered by many.”
Garcoa Laboratories president and CEO Gregory Rubin said, “We as people and as business people have lost a friend, a visionary, a truly remarkable and lovable man from our lives. He founded ECRM-EPPS after changing careers, and that format of doing business in the Charlie Bowlus method became a part of all of our lives. What was remarkable is he did everything with a smile and a big heart and, let’s not forget, most importantly, a sense of humor. Charlie will be missed, and I would like to see everyone stop for a minute, think of a story about Charlie that brings a smile to your face and then say, ‘Thank you, Charlie.’ That good thought is a tribute he would appreciate.”
Mitch Bowlus said, “My father, and lifelong business partner, has left us, but his unshakable faith in the values of this company and the character of our people has laid for us a stronger and better foundation. As my father would always say, the show must go on.”