When A Player Becomes A Game Changer

Welcome to the 2015 HomeWorld Players issue (August 17, 2015) in which our editors weigh in on people in the housewares business to watch in the coming months.

It can be a challenge each year to identify just 20 individuals from so many worthy prospects representing suppliers, retailers and others connected to an industry of such wide scope.

Mixed Reactions

Much of what makes the curation of the HomeWorld Players list so interesting is not just the adamancy with which our editors lobby for certain housewares standouts, but also the mixed reaction we receive in the aftermath of this annual issue. We hear pride from those honored by their selection, and we hear contempt from incredulous competitors.

The HomeWorld Players feature (see page 13), now in its 10th installment, has stoked increasing efforts from public relations reps, marketing managers and the like to pitch their companies’ executives as Players candidates. While such enthusiasm is noble, it mistakenly presumes that selection as a Player is simply a reward for excellence.

It’s true many of those to have been selected as HomeWorld Players during the past decade, including some in this issue, already have earned accolades and high stature because of their business excellence. The Players designation, however, actually is recognition of individuals who for myriad reasons find themselves in the immediate spotlight—and sometimes on the hot seat— for what has yet to be accomplished. For better or worse.

Marotta’s Influence

The HomeWorld Players list is also intended to represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

Speaking of celebrity endorsement and the spirit of the HomeWorld’s Players selections, the industry lost one of its most influential players this month when Vincent Marotta passed away at 91. Marotta, along with his business partner, the late Sam Glazer, drove the 1972 introduction of the Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffeemaker and its steep ascent into one of the industry’s most important, enduring products and brands.

A former standout baseball player and professional football player, Marotta was a relentless competitor who, when his real estate business slowed, turned his attention to developing a home version of a restaurant-style drip coffee brewer to take on percolators.  

Setting The Bar

It was Marotta, a persuasive force, who convinced reclusive baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, despite his initial reluctance, to be the TV face of Mr. Coffee (even though the New York Yankee great rarely drank coffee because of ulcers).

Marotta, with his brimming confidence and promotional flair, wasn’t just a player. He was a game changer. And he is among those who have set a high bar for all HomeWorld Players.

It’s up to them to determine how history will record their impact on the housewares business.

For better or worse.