WHO IS VBG’S PRESIDENT THEODORE ENGEN?
Considered a pioneer in the video industry, Mr. Engen’s earlier years were spent as a video/retailer. He was chosen as one of the 20 most influential retailer/distributors of the video industry era by Video Store Magazine. It was his insight into the future and concern over the struggles the independent video retailer faced that brought him to develop Video Buyers Group, Inc. It is also this concern for the independent retailer that has been the backbone of VBG, the video industry’s oldest and only national buying group for independent video retailers. It is doubtful if there is another single individual who has done any more for the independent video retailers over the years than Ted Engen.
Noted as one of the video industry’s nice guys, he has been called a wily road warrior having much influence on the industry today. Ted has a passion for the video industry beginning in the early years when he opened one of the very first video stores in the Midwest, and he was an important part of the development of one of the video industry’s first independently owned video chains, Video Vision. In 1984 Ted began Video Buyers Group, believing that independents were better off working together than going it alone. When asked why Video Buyers Group has been able to continue on when others have fallen by the wayside, Ted stated, “It is my belief that a retailer can keep his or her individuality while supporting other retailers in a unified movement toward the future. The premise behind VBG is different than most. Staying profitable in the evolution of an industry is the key to long-term success, especially for retail. It is this profitability over the long term that is our focus. In business nothing stays the same, it is always changing. Meeting these challenges in the evolution of an industry is what everyone must deal with on a daily basis. Many groups and associations were formed on the passion of the moment, which eventually becomes issues of the past.” When issues do arise, Ted has shown that he has a unique view of how best to address these concerns. As Ted often says, “If you can see the negatives you had better also be focusing on the positives.” Video Buyers Group, over the years, has been noted for addressing the current issues by finding positive ways to meet the challenges for the long term. When E.T., the first major sell-through title to hit the industry, began a price war between mass market and independents, VBG caught national attention when they developed a marketing program utilizing used copies that could be purchased for as little as $1.95 after a $5.00 manufacturer’s rebate. Many in the business believe this was the beginning of previously viewed video sales, which is now practiced industry wide.
Ted has preached for many years that diversification is the future for independent video retailers. In recent years he, along with other VBG members, formed the Total Entertainment Center chain that went from nonexistence to the Top 20 in the industry, in less time than any video chain in the history of the business. These individually owned TEC’s demonstrates that diversification is our future and much of VBG’s research is accomplished at these stores. Today there is a movement of video stores getting involved in the tanning industry. If you see one, stop in and say Hi because it will most likely be a Video Buyers Group member. In 1999 VBG/TEC won a national award in the tanning industry for best mixture of goods and services.
For the past twenty-five years Ted has been the Host and Master of Ceremonies of the annual Video Buyers Group Show, the second largest show in the industry held exclusively for independent video retailers. As one retailer stated after attending a VBG show, “It’s like getting an annual dose of excitement and enthusiasm for the business. If it could be bottled and given to all independents, our industry would definitely be better off. Hurricane Ted really fires you up! If there is one person I had to pick as representing the spirit of the entrepreneur, it would be Ted.”
Ted Engen is a unique individual in a unique position in the video industry and over the years has had much influence on the video industry’s development and direction. From top studio executives to the single store owner in a small town, Ted is considered an important factor in where the video industry has come and where it will be in the future.