Farewell to Tim Alban as STL Cuts Sales Team

Tim Alban

Tim Alban

In the March 2009 issue of Christian Marketplace, just out this weekend, Richard McChesney, Business Development Manager at STL, writes:

As concern over the UK economy continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to be properly prepared for these financially testing times…

… if you’re feeling the pinch, you may need to consider job cuts but it is also important to retain your key employees. Their strengths will help you through an economic downturn and you will need them when business picks up…

… smart businesses continue to market through a downturn and position themselves to take advantage of the upturn as soon as it starts. In tough times the marketplace becomes more competitive — you may need to market more vigorously, not less…

Have to confess that I’m having some difficulty working out the relationship between Richard’s recommendations and  Tim’s redundancy. To quote Melanie Carroll:

Given how the systems don’t seem to be working I can’t see ditching reps will do much to increase confidence in their performance and increase sales.

Tim, I take this opportunity along with Melanie to wish you all the best wherever you go from here. Here are Melanie’s comments from Saturday morning, responding to my post The Lost Message of Eugene Peterson:

I would normally ask my STL Rep but he’s just been made redundant!!

See normally on something like this query I contact my rep from whatever company and ask them and they are usually pretty good at getting me some sort of answer.

Tim Alban from STL has alway been pretty good on this sort of thing in getting me an honest answer – however as this morning I recieved an email from him saying that he has been made redundant! I guess I won’t be doing that anymore.

I find this sad as Tim has moved around the country with me in my 12+ years in christian bookselling and he has been my STL Rep in all that time.

Perhaps rather than culling staff they should look at fixing systems – or better yet not having invested in an expensive new system that doesn’t work and has decreased their otherwise decreasing sales anyway.

I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg and wonder how many others will be sacrificed by IBS-STL.

Given how the systems don’t seem to be working I can’t see ditching reps will do much to increase confidence in their performance and increase sales.

I also wonder how many other reps have been effected as I have recieved nothing from STL directly to let me know about this – but then maybe I got overlooked as I seem to be getting overlooked in delivery of my orders due to system glitches.

I checked the STLD blog but there isn’t anything up there either which I would have expected as at least it’s a place most people can get news from and should be reactive – its a blog!

To Tim, and anyone else in this situation, my prayers and hopes for their futures go with them.

7 thoughts on “Farewell to Tim Alban as STL Cuts Sales Team

  1. I have now recieved a letter from Richard McChesney at STLD dated 27.02.09, a quick summary of it:

    ‘undertaking a strategic review of our operations… as an initial part of this process we have made a change to our sales structure and have with immediate effect reduced the number of ASM’s from six to five… Tim Alban will no longer be calling on you and consequently a number of our other ASMs will provide cover for the territory.’

    Now for me here’s the kicker! watch carefully folks –

    ‘THE finer details of this re-structure are currently being worked on and we will contact you in due course to advise you who will take over the management of your account.’

    There is then a standard paragraph about how Tim was one of the longest serving ASMs and that they ‘genuinely regret that the current economic circumstances have meant he has had to leave IBS-STL UK’.

    oh and that my ‘New ASM will be in contact with me in due course to introduce himself adn where appropriate arrange an appointment’.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with any of the other reps, in my time I have seen both Laurie and Clive and enjoyed visits with both of them and found them great to work with, what bugs me is that I don’t have a clue (and nor it would seem do they!) who is taking over my patch and also I just have an issue with ‘immediate effect’ redundancies as that’s a person the other end and I worry for them.

    So there we go – yep looks like this is as well planned as the systems change!

    Surely before you axe the people you work out whose replacing them, you work out the system properly I thought so you can seemlessly and efficiently institute it with minimum fuss and disruption – well that’s what I’d do.

    But actaully thinking about it, as you refer to this edition of Christian Marketplace, Phil, I am reminded of another article in there, one about a UK chap who has just taken over an american organisation (sorry CM not to hand and can’t remember names – mea culpe!) and what strikes me as so apt is he talks about american inefficiency because in effect they can get away with it! now if you read the bit about Tim going they use the expression IBS-STL UK, now don’t get me wrong that is the division that is in question, but for me its kind of telling becuase really what they are probably saying (it’s one of those Pink Elephant in the room things!!) is that we are using american inefficency systems instead of the more standard efficiency systems that normally work so well!

    Well that’s how it looks to me, but then what do I know, I’m just a someone who runs a bookshop and still hasn’t had a response from IBS-STL UK in regards to where my order from Thursay is ’cause it still ain’t here! oh and I sent the email to them on Tursday and blogged on their site on Saturday morning. Hmm yep, no concerns here on how well this is all going to work then.

  2. As you say, Melanie, it’s a person at the other end. Here’s the comment I left on STL’s blog back on 18th Feb:

    … whatever you do, please don’t try to make quick savings by cutting back on staff.

    Your staff are your strength and you as their employer have as much responsibility towards them as they do to you — even more: from those to whom much is given, much will be expected.

    Your staff are human beings — real people — not merely ‘human resources’.

    Jesus gave his life for his people; but you know all this: you don’t need me to tell you. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Saddened to say there’s been no response to that either… except Tim’s redundancy. 😦

  3. I would like to take this chance to say Thank you to Richard McChesney at STLD for taking the time to respond personally to my blog postings in regards to Tim’s redundancy.
    He has just phoned me and explained a little more the reasoning behind the action and assure me that it was done with all due consultations etc.
    He has also told me who my new rep will be -(Hi Lawrie! a chance to catch up again.)
    and he is going to have them look into the straight to backorders issue I seem to be having.
    So thanks Richard for taking the time out to contact me, it is appreciated.

  4. What sad news to hear of Tim’s redundancy.
    I can’t help thinking that STL’s recent ‘upgrade fiasco’ must have caused them huge financial losses as they were just not able to get goods to their customers. I know we lost a huge amount of sales because STL couldn’t deliver.
    Shouldn’t it be the person who took the decison to start the upgrade in the run up to Christmas who is made redundant, and not Tim?

  5. Hi. Can I just add my appreciation for Tim. He was our rep a few years back and was always helpful and followed through on queries. He was also our point of contact when our rep Roger was on holiday. So Tim, I’m sorry to hear of your news and please know that Jan, Jayne and myself at Maranatha will pray for your future employment in the job that God has lined up for you

  6. It would seem STL are not the only ones now resorting to losing the Rep Force – SPCK seems to be following suit in swift action. Doesn’t bode well really does it.
    I Have just had my CPR rep in – Howard Corn – who has told me that He, along with other CPR reps, were last week given their notice that CPR is been disbanded.
    Howard say’s he leaves at the end of June after 16 Years service (I think was the figure he gave, with Jeremy Bakewell leaving in September/October.
    He say’s he has no idea how the new structure for sales will work, whether it will be Telesales or some other method.
    I would just like to say thank you to Howard, who I have seen for a number of years now, for all his good work and service during this time.
    Today, as ever, he was unfailingly polite and pleasant whilst showing the lists. I will see him for one more cycle and after that he will be much missed. Thank you Howard for all your service.

  7. Pingback: Christian Publishers Representatives (CPR) Disbanded « UKCBD: The Christian Bookshops Blog

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