ENCINO, Calif. -- Caught in a cross fire between the aggressive big video chains and the highly vocal independent retailers, the top executive of the Video Software Dealers Association here resigned last week.
Jeffrey P. Eves, who has served as president and chief executive officer of the largest trade group in the video industry since 1994, leaves with an impressive list of accomplishments. But in the last year, smaller video operators, who represent the bulk of VSDA's membership, have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the association's response to their financial difficulties, which some attribute to unfair trade practices between the studios and big chains like Blockbuster Entertainment, Dallas; Hollywood Entertainment, Portland, Ore.; and Movie Gallery, Dothan, Ala. These competitive challenges have also caused some supermarkets to question their video-rental programs. In November and December, three eastern VSDA chapters called for Eves' resignation, but later backed down. In late December, independent retailers were upset when Eves took credit for a compromise plan to help the smaller stores. Bob Webb, president of the Independent Video Retailers Group, Decatur, Ill., a dissident group, separate from VSDA, that is contemplating a lawsuit against the big chains and studios, said the plan was his idea.
Apparently though, Eves and the VSDA board have had enough. The board met by conference call last week and accepted Eves' resignation with "sincere regret." He had 18 months left on a five-year contract. No replacement has been named.
Eves will stay on until April 1 while the board searches for a new top executive. After that, for a period of at least six months he will serve as a special consultant for a number of projects and will continue as chairman of Home Video Entertainment Events, a joint venture between VSDA and Advanstar Communications, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, that manages trade shows like the annual VSDA Convention and the East Coast Video Show.
"Although the last five years have been an exciting and rewarding experience, the time has now come for me to devote attention to other personal and family interests, as well as to consider other career opportunities," said Eves.
"Jeff Eves indisputably has been among the strongest and most effective leaders of VSDA in the organization's history," said VSDA chairman Mark Vrieling. "Over the past five years, Jeff has developed a consistent track record of significant accomplishment for VSDA and introduced a level of vigor, strength and vitality to the organization it was lacking before his arrival."
Among his accomplishments, Vrieling said, were establishing a new headquarters staff after VSDA moved its operations from the East Coast; fixing problems with the association's finances and membership retention; facilitating the development of a screeners program.