ECRM founder, CEO Charlie Bowlus passes away

SARASOTA, Fla. — Charlie Bowlus, CEO and founder of ECRM has died unexpectedly from complications following emergency surgery three weeks ago.

“My father would not want us to mourn his death,“ noted ECRM president Mitchell Bowlus in an Aug. 11 letter to ECRM employees. “Rather, he would want us to celebrate his tremendous life and further his passion and vision for improving the way companies do business. His courage, determination, humility and his love of life have undoubtedly touched all of our lives. We are all blessed to work for a company that has been shaped by the will, leadership and vision of my father. These qualities epitomize what we will continue to stand for in the future.”

Charlie Bowlus, a long-time industry vet, began his retail career during college at Ohio State University, when he worked for a small drug chain, owned by a friend’s father. From there, Bowlus went on to become a buyer and wholesaler for various chains, including Target, Cook-United and Boston Distributors Inc.

But Bowlus truly left his mark on the industry in 1994, when he revolutionized retail conferences by leveraging technology and a “speed-dating,” approach in developing the Efficient Program Planning Session style meetings with which ECRM has become synonymous. Since then, the company has held more than 800 category-specific meetings on four different continents. This year, there were more than 90 different events on the ECRM meeting calendar.

“Over time, we will all be relieved of the anguish of our bereavement and left only with a cherished memory of my loving father and solemn pride to have known such a great man,” Mitchell Bowlus noted.

As of late Thursday details for a memorial service to honor Bowlus were still being finalized.