A Conversation With…
Dave Alves — An In-depth Conversation with a LP Professional
Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your childhood?
A: I have one sister and I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. My fondest memories are when I would play golf with my father. He was such a positive influence on me when I was growing up, and those times on the golf course together were just fantastic and I have lasting memories of them.
Q: How did you get involved in the loss prevention industry?
A: I will try and make a long story short. In order to get my Bachelors of Science Degree in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration from Western Illinois University, I had to complete a summer internship at an accredited/approved public or private institution. Of course being young and not knowing where my degree was going to take me, I chose to complete my internship at Jewel/Osco, a Chicago grocery and drugstore chain. One day I was pushing my shopping cart around looking for shoplifters when I noticed a cashier looking very suspicious. I ducked behind a cereal display and within a few minutes I observed her key in a no-sale and then reach into the register drawer, take out a $5.00 bill and put it in her sock. I immediately ran, –I really did run from the adrenaline rush I was having!– to find the office phone (No cell phones back then!) to call my Supervisor Gary Johnson–I hope you remember this Gary!– to report what I saw. He told me to write down everything I observed and said that the investigations manager would be in touch. Flash forward a week, the investigations manager is in the store and asks if I would like to sit in on the interview. I sat there listening in amazement as the girl admitted to $5,000 in cash thefts and I knew from that point forward what I wanted do in my professional life!
Q: What other career choices were you contemplating?
A: When I went to college I thought I was going to be a juvenile counselor until one day, I was sitting in my 101 class listening to a young gentleman speak to us about careers in the counseling arena and telling us that if we thought we were going to change the world we better think twice. After seeing a young guy speaking with so little optimism within his own profession, I quickly changed my mind!
Q: What are some of your previous positions and your education?
A: As I mentioned earlier I graduated from Western Illinois University with a BS Degree in LEAJA.
I have worked for as well as held various LP leadership roles in the following retailers:
- People Drugs
- Marshall Fields
- County Seat Stores
- Limited Brands
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
Q: Tell me about your current position.
A: Two years ago, after almost 14 years of working for Limited Brands, I made the decision to leave accepting the Director of Loss Prevention position at Golf Galaxy, a division of Dick’s Sporting Goods. Recently my titled changed to Director of LP for Specialty Concepts as we now have added two more divisions into the Dick’s portfolio: True Runner and Field and Stream. From a professional standpoint it has been the best decision I have ever made. I am surrounded by very talented people at all levels and there is not a day that goes by that does not have its challenges.
Q: What do you find are the most challenging aspects of your position?
A: With the first Field and Stream store opening at the end of August, the whole outdoor and gun business is new to my wheelhouse. Putting together a shrink reduction strategy that links in with this type of business has been very challenging. I am very appreciative that my manager has given me the opportunity support this business.
Q: What do you consider to be the top career accomplishments that you are most proud of?
A: There have been a lot of accomplishments and proud moments throughout my career but one that still stands out today was when I was in a field role at County Seat Stores. My District Managers and Regional Manager partners were long term associates and they each had their own perception on how the business should be run and Loss Prevention definitely was not a part of it. Through endless hours of hand holding, forcing my way onto conference calls and inserting myself into store visits, I finally was able to get them to understand the link between Loss Prevention and every goal they were trying to accomplish. This got the notice of our company president who sent me a hand written note thanking me for my efforts and his now clear understanding of the importance of having a Loss Prevention Department within the organization. I still have his letter that I review every blue moon to remind me of why I am in this profession!
Q: What personally motivates you?
A: When you thoroughly enjoy what you are doing, staying motivated is never a problem.
Q: When you are not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I have passion for Golf so every Saturday come rain or shine between 7:00am – 11:00am you know where I will be!
Q: Tell me about your family and how you balance work and family.
A: I am blessed to have such a wonderful wife, Tammy, who has been by my side for 19 years. I moved her three times in the first five years of our marriage, all for the right reasons professionally and not once did she blink an eye. Now I am moving her again from Columbus, OH to Pittsburgh and again she has been 100 percent supportive. I have two children Brandon and Brianna that I could not be more proud of. In two months there is going to be two really sad/proud parents out there as our son Brandon is starting the next chapter of his life, heading off to Toledo University where he was accepted into their Pharmacy Program and our daughter Brianna will begin her sophomore year in high school.
Additionally, I have been fortunate in that all five retailers that I have worked for have all believed in having a work-life balance. I think as an LP Professional working in a retail environment, it is very difficult to be involved in every family event but just like at work, I prioritized and made it a point to try and be a part of every important event and milestone for my family.
Q: Do you have any special family traditions?
A: That might change this year now that we just moved to Pittsburgh, but every Christmas, the Alves Family goes to a local tree farm to cut down their Christmas tree. After it is loaded on top of the car we sit with the owner drinking hot chocolate and eating Christmas cookies.
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: Good to Great to Gone: The 60 Year Rise and Fall of Circuit City.
Q: What books did you read growing up?
A: I am a true crime buff and have lost count on how many I have read.
Q: Is there any one person whom you admire most and why?
A: The Chicago in me is coming out but growing up, Walter Payton was my idol. Here is a guy who played on some terrible Bears teams and I mean bad, as in fans going to the games wearing bags over their heads bad. Year in and year out Walter Payton’s workout regime was one of the hardest in the NFL and he was always driven, focused and dedicated. Because of this approach he is considered one of the best if not best running backs to ever play the game of professional football.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: The Shawshank Redemption. The minute Warden Norton throws the rock through the poster in Andy Dufresne cell I was hooked!
Q: Favorite food?
A: Anything that is barbecued and I mean anything.
Q: What places have you traveled to and which one is your favorite?
A: Based on my years working for national retailers I have had the opportunity to travel to every state in the US and there are so many great places that it makes it difficult just to name one but if I have to pick, it would be Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, it is a golfers paradise!
Q: What is one object you cannot live without? Ie: phone, laptop, I-pod…
A: All of the above. I love technology. They did a study with college students over in England recently where they took away all of their electronic devices. A majority became depressed and agitated which I hate to say but I think that would be me.
Q: What advice would you give to those just starting their careers?
A: Loss Prevention is no longer one dimensional. This profession evolved leaps and bounds in the last 25 years. When I started in this business there were no SVP’s in Loss Prevention and very few VP’s or directors had a seat at the leadership table. That is no longer the case. For those starting in Loss Prevention I would recommend mastering your role but don’t stop there. In order to become an effective LP professional you need to have good understanding of all areas of the business taking a holistic approach in everything that you do.
Q: What is your pet peeve?
A: There is no doubt that my number one pet peeve is when someone tells me “but we have always done it that way”.
Q: How do you go about working around that issue?
A: It takes patience and a bit of hand holding. Although “they’ve done it that way,” they need to understand that there are other, more effective ways of working around situations. Once they see that the new method is producing better results, they understand how to adapt, which is what loss prevention is all about.