Never Give Up, Never Surrender!


Favorite movies reveal insight about people we might not otherwise discover. For example, we already know that Brian Devine is chairman of Petco, the $2.5 billion chain serving the nation's pets and their household humans.

Devine has been with Petco, a privately held company, for 17 years, the last 13 of which as its chairman. During this time it grew from being a regional California chain into a 900-unit giant with stores in 49 states.

At the recent NRF tech conference in San Diego Devine was the keynote speaker and he revealed a secret of Petco's success, a "loyalty program that began life by tracking purchase patterns through credit card transactions of 600,000 customers." After a careful planning phase it morphed into a full-featured loyalty-card program that today "accounts for 80 percent of Petco's business."

Devine wouldn't say how his company achieves this level of success, but he may have inadvertently revealed more than he intended when he noted that his favorite movie was "Galaxy Quest," the 1999 space-travel spoof starring Tim Allen. The movie is a comedy classic in which the washed up stars of a TV series encounter aliens who believe they are actually the characters they play.

Along the way to ultimately saving the galaxy the actors deliver such gems as, "There is no quantum flux, there's no auxiliary power, there's no damn ship! You got that!" Another favorite occurs when the tech officer reports a problem in the engine room but is embarrassed to deliver Scottie's classic message: "Um, the generators can't take it. The ship's breaking up and all that. Just F.Y.I."

And then there is the unforgettable tag line, "Never give up, never surrender!" which Devine says is his favorite line in the movie.

We may not know exactly how Petco manages its loyalty program or continues to ring up success, but we know its chairman is a creative thinker with a competitive attitude and good sense of humor, a leader willing to try new things to seize opportunities and meet challenges. Never give up, never surrender. Words to live by in space and in retailing. RIS

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