When House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, and Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, called to ask me to participate in a business-led study of the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, my first answer seemed to be the most obvious: The DABC should be governed by "best business practices" rather than by political motivation.
I can't think of any other Utah retailer who generates $300 million in annual sales, not to mention that it provides $26 million annually to our local schools.
Unfortunately, Republican politics has historically tried to "cut" its way to prosperity, meaning that more thought and planning goes into the reduction of costs, with little emphasis toward generating revenues, especially when it comes to funding our growing educational needs.
As Kim Burningham, a member of the Utah State Board of Education, recently wrote, "To be frugal is laudable but to blatantly insist on inferior education for our children is appalling."
Our newly formed committee, tasked with providing business recommendations to the Legislature and the governor by the beginning of the 2012 legislative session, has begun to notice that the current issues facing the DABC are a good example of an inordinate amount of time spent on reducing costs and not sufficient energy put into growing revenues and profits.
There needs to be a balanced approach to cost containment and revenue enhancement.
The DABC has shown outstanding sales growth, in spite of mismanagement and inappropriate use of public money. And as such, it is my hope that at the end of our public hearings and data-collecting, we can make sufficient recommendations to Gov. Gary Herbert that he might understand that adding further red tape and bureaucracy may not be the answer.
It only makes sense to construct a DABC that will be focused, disciplined and passionate about its role in becoming a better business. How?
A for accountability
B for building sales
C for cost containment
Over the past few decades, experience has taught me that good businesses become great when one individual has the responsibility to oversee an organization with a mission to grow sales efficiently, resulting in enhanced profits, in a manner that raises the expectations and morale of the entire staff.
A $300 million business needs a seasoned chief executive officer with vast retail knowledge and experience combined with a passion to build an efficient, sustainable business model not beholden to politics but accountable to the taxpayers of Utah.
Over the next month and a half, our committee (led by retired Maj. Gen. Peter Cooke, a local businessman) will be garnering as much opinion from the community as possible. We are striving for an open and fair process to create the best possible solutions for such a critical Utah business.
Stephen H. Schubach is president and CEO of Standard Optical.