To many at BWB, the news that there even is a UK Division may come as a surprise; it’s still hard to believe for the six of us, and we work here… Maybe that’s why we’ve kept a little quiet. Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends, Romans, countrymen: Better World Books UK has landed.
The last few months have been exciting, difficult and just plain weird, sometimes all at once. We’ve encountered bureaucracy that would make Genghis Khan weep for mercy, a treasure trove of books in Paris, library suppliers that double up as rally drivers and a bewildering number of people called Margaret.
Back to the present, and it’s weeks like this one that make it all worthwhile. We officially moved into our warehouse, (currently shared with a huge volume of Scottish porridge oats), marking our territory with a Union Jack welcome mat . We’re also signing off on partnerships with two fantastic literacy charities. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve cracked the UPS deal and got the UK Client Portal up and running. Thanks to all those who helped make it happen, including all you Yanks over there that have given us great support. But that’s enough about you, back to us. Time for some introductions…
Rachael is the most important person at Better World Books UK, probably the whole company so maybe even the whole world. Representing the Scottish half of our current Acquisitions team, Rachael’s commitment to excellence never falters, whether she’s signing up yet another charity shop/thrift store (imagine explaining to an 80 year-old lady who is scared of computers that it would be a good idea to give excess books to an American for-profit social enterprise) or negotiating with the biggest library network in Scotland. She also does a mean line in designing her very own Better World Books T-shirts…
Alan will be known to those of you who worked with him in South Bend. What you don’t know is that he’s a keen bare-knuckle boxer (even if his knuckles aren’t so keen) – just ask the punching bag at the gym where he forgot to use gloves or wrapping. Other hobbies include world domination (on the Risk board at least) and ‘hot tub survivor’, an activity which definitely makes us Brits wonder if they put something in the water across the pond. Serious kudos to Alan for all the hard work which has made a huge challenge into an even bigger success. He secured a grant almost single-handedly, laying down a spectacular foundation for the future. Sadly, Alan is returning home next month (he says he loves his girlfriend or something); Alan Mackiewicz, Project Manager, we salute you.
Jim, the other American brave enough to take on a Scottish winter, is our Head of Operations. Much more importantly, he has a fine ginger beard. Ever the sportsman, he said he’d shave it off when we sold 1000 books, but after a few days of looking at a small mountain of unbuilt shelving, he’s decided to change that to the first book. I’m thinking about starting a petition to save Jim’s beard, so get your signatures ready. Jim has had the toughest job of all of us in some ways, and he’s risen to the challenge in style, not even losing his cool when one courier, which shall not be named, picked up a shipment, transported it the entire length of the country… then took it all the way back to the library. Three times.
Hannah is one of the reasons we got off the ground, and why we haven’t crashed back into it. There are lots of good stories about Better World Books, as she found out when she decided on a whim to stop off in San Francisco and meet the infamous Xavier Helgesen, on her way home from visiting family in New Zealand. One day she was listening to an intriguing tale about three Notre Dame graduates, the next she found herself agreeing to help write the next chapter. It’s a far cry from the charity bookshop Hannah was managing not so long ago, but you wouldn’t know it from the way she’s quietly excelled. Hannah continues to take the lead in building all our external relationships, negotiating partnerships and generally getting a buzz going about BWB in the UK.
Tony is the newest member of our team, a desperately needed IT guy. Tony is faced with the unenviable task of getting all the technical systems in the warehouse up and running, servers and all, but he’s making it look easy. Destiny obviously marked Tony for BWB: he once lived down the road from a town called Mishawaka, and now the jammy blighter (look it up) has somehow managed to end up living in a house five minutes from the UK warehouse.
Some of you may have met Harry, our other Acquisitions Rep, when he was recently over in the US. His colleagues rashly decided Harry was the UK Salesforce expert after his trip. The delusions of importance will probably only last until he remembers he spent weeks wondering what the hell an ‘Opportunity’ was supposed to be. Harry’s Facebook profile picture shows him reading – is there no end to the man’s commitment to his work?
So for now, we’re a mere 6 – but watch this space. This is only the beginning…