CEO: Expansions coming to Redstone Exchange Service - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

CEO: Expansions coming to Redstone Exchange Service

Thomas Shull, CEO of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (Source: WAFF) Thomas Shull, CEO of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (Source: WAFF)

One of the essential parts of any military installation is their grocery and department stores.

On Tuesday, the CEO of the Exchange stores made a trip to Redstone Arsenal.

Thomas Shull, the CEO of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, is the first civilian to lead the Department of Defense's oldest and largest retailer.

Shull visited the different facilities on Redstone Tuesday, toured with the garrison commander, Col. Holliday, and attended a ceremony honoring his Exchange associates on Redstone.

The ceremony was led by AMC commander Gen. Gus Perna.

Shull talked about plans for future expansion. First, on Veterans Day, they’re opening up their online service to all honorably discharged veterans called the Veterans Online Shopping Benefit. A part of that program will also be to offer Military Star Card, which veterans will be able to take part in the low-interest rate card.

"The first extension of the benefits since 1992. It'll just be online and so we're very excited about welcoming 13 million vets back the military family," said Shull.

In the near future, they’ll add new entertainment centers to Army and Air Force installations. Shull said they will start with Army posts first then move to Air
Force bases.

The first installation to get the center will be in Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

"It's a very exciting idea because it will basically be a community center for service members and their families," said Shull.

Shull also mentioned extending their services to civilians, who have access to military installations like Redstone Arsenal. Those who have the ID cards would be able to have the benefits.

“There are 38,000 civilians, only 1,000 active duty. So you can imagine the impact when the benefit and commissary benefit is extended to civilians who work and serve here on the installation,” said Shull.

They're currently in the approval process through the Department of Defense.

At Redstone, Shull says he’s looking for ways to improve the Exchange experience. He said they’d possibly expand real estate with the prospect of including civilians in the benefit.

He said one idea is to add a new Starbucks right next to the Express. He said they do very well at installations to improve the benefit.

Shull has been in charge of other retail stores in the past and explained the difference he's seen in how the Exchange service works.

"Their entire focus isn't on themselves and how much money they make but rather the needs of the customer. In this case, the best customers in the world," he said.

Shull says growing up in a military household and being a former soldier himself, he holds a deep connection with those who shop throughout the Exchange stores.

"They put their lives on the line every day for us. They're in harm's way. So, to me, it's vital that we be a partner with them to provide for every one of their needs in every aspect of their lives," said Shull.

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