Senior Vice President of Retail Development
CLASS OF 1977
When Bill Booth arrived at Washington & Jefferson College, he aimed for the American dream. He hoped to build an academic foundation for professional success. Booth fondly remembers his time at W&J as both an academic challenge and a four-year bonding experience with his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers. “We played hard and we worked hard,” he recalls. “And it paid off because we became successful in our endeavors.”
With a major in economics, Booth first worked with Firestone and then spent five years installing customized enterprise management computer systems for automotive dealerships. He was forced to consider other job possibilities, however, when a recession in the early 1980s jeopardized the economy. “I asked myself, ‘What industry is not affected by recession?’ My answer was the supermarket industry—people have to eat, even during economic bad times.”
So, Booth applied his computer skills to the supermarket industry, installing scanning systems that would revolutionize the point-of-sale (POS) market place. Soon he was selling POS scanning systems to top grocery retailers across the country. The relationships Booth developed through the years allowed him to move into the loyalty marketing arena, participating in the development of the first U.S. ‘frequent-shopper’ program introduced by Citicorp POS and expanding the premier syndicated targeted-marketing network for in-store promotions, offered by Catalina Marketing Corporation.
In 1995, Booth joined Coinstar, which places self-service coin-counting machines in supermarkets. “When I started, only 20 Coinstar machines were installed in the U.S.” As senior vice president of retail development, Booth logged more than one million air miles over nine years, increasing the number of installed units to more than 11,000 worldwide. Coinstar went public in 1997 and flourished, largely due to Booth’s business savvy, industry relations, and drive. Booth quips that he literally “made a living counting pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.”
Booth officially retired in 2004, but he makes time to visit W&J regularly and admires the changes taking place on campus. “It’s progress,” he says. “As long as Beta Theta Pi remains, everything is fine.”