EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story appeared in the May 28 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
Kurt Gibbons, chief operations officer for retail analytics company Shiloh Technologies, spent 28 years in the beverage industry before he decided it was time for a change.
Gibbons knew Britt Fogg, founder and CEO of the Rogers-based company, since high school, and Fogg asked Gibbons to become a consultant for its sales teams. Gibbons started working for the company in early 2013 and joined full time on June 1 that year as senior vice president of product sales.
Before he started at Shiloh Technologies, he was vice present of the Walmart team for Dr Pepper Snapple Group. He oversaw a team of 40 people, and between 2007 and 2013, increased annual sales from $850,000 to $1 billion.
In 2003, when he was named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class, he was director of the Walmart team for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Bentonville. In five years, the team of five increased sales from zero to $1 billion and to $2 billion before he left for Dr Pepper Snapple Group to become its director of operations.
Gibbons, 54, considers the highlights of his career the annual sales growth while at Dr Pepper Snapple and Coca-Cola. Another highlight is the number of Shiloh Technologies customers has doubled to 90. A key similarity in his career in the beverage industry and his time working in technology is the work with retailers.
“It all ties back to the supplier,” Gibbons said. “My supplier knowledge and calling on Walmart, and it’s not just Walmart. I’ll call it another thing, retail experience that I had, is where it connects. Understanding the retail business is my expertise, and that’s what translated from the beverage business to this. I was a supplier, so I know how to talk to suppliers and know what their needs are.”
The company’s top customers are retailers Walmart, Target and Kroger. The majority of its customers are suppliers, and Gibbons declined to disclose their names. Shiloh Technologies provides its customers with improved data it receives from the retailers. It improves the raw data from the retailers with third-party data and allows its customers to access the user-friendly data.
“It used to be if you could get it on the Walmart shelf, you’d sell it,” Gibbons said. “So, you’re trying to make sure you kept your shelf full and no out-of-stocks, and you could sell as much as you could deliver. Now, it’s choice. You’ve got to figure out where the customer’s going to go, what they’re looking for, and with that choice you’ve got to do a lot more data crunching to figure that out.”
Gibbons explained that a customer can enter a question into a spreadsheet, which is connected to a database, and it will quickly return an answer. One might ask, does a store in a specific area sell more umbrellas when it rains? In a large city, the store will sell more umbrellas, but a store in a rural area does not, the data shows.
In fall 2013, retail IT services provider Software Paradigms International (SPI) purchased Shiloh Technologies. Shortly afterward, Gibbons relocated to Atlanta to work for SPI, which is based there, and became its senior vice president of global product sales. Gibbons, who said he was familiar with Atlanta from when he worked for Coca-Cola, developed merger and acquisition targets, improved the sales business and oversaw service of sales. In January 2017, SPI announced it changed its name to Softvision, the name of the company it had merged with in June 2016.
In October 2016, Gibbons returned to Northwest Arkansas and became COO for Shiloh Technologies after it started to struggle. Fogg had also relocated to Atlanta when Gibbons left, and Fogg returned to Shiloh Technologies as its president and CEO. The company has 25 employees in the Rogers office.
The next big goal in Gibbons’ career is to own a business, likely a retail analytics company.
Some of the volunteer projects he’s involved in include benefits for Mercy Northwest Arkansas, American Diabetes Association and the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
In his free time, Gibbons enjoys playing any type of guitar. He started playing when he was 8 and owns 26 of the instruments.