Phyllis Mandel, retired senior v-p of fulfillment at Bantam, BDD, and Penguin Random House distribution facilities, died on May 20 in Cape Cod—the day after her 75th birthday. Mandel—an operations executive working in a male-dominated sector of the book industry—is credited with modernizing PRH's distribution and fulfillment, transforming its facilities into a state of the art supply chain.
Mandel began her publishing career in 1966 in the order processing and telemarketing department of Select Magazines, a national wholesale distributor for Bantam Books. In 1979, she moved to Bantam and Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she worked for 12 years in sales administration and inventory. In 1991, she took over the direction of the Des Plaines distribution center in Chicago; seven years later, she took on the leadership of Random House’s Westminster, Md., distribution and fulfillment operations.
Mandel is remembered by her colleagues as a trailblazing female executive and a tough boss in the “man’s world” of facilities operations. Penguin Random House praised Mandel for her encyclopedic knowledge of the supply chain, her team-building skills, loyalty to her staff, her commitment to authors and accounts, and her role as a mentor.
“Under her guidance, our Westminster and Crawfordsville facilities have achieved a level of achievement and efficiency that was unimaginable in the pre-Mandel era,” read a PRH memo marking her 2006 retirement. “In her time, she has overseen the distribution of over three billion of our books, helping to ensure the livelihoods of our booksellers and the reading enjoyment of our book buyer. “
The memo continued: “Prior to Phyllis, the distribution and publishing cultures at our company were quite separate and apart. She more than anyone had brought these two disparate worlds together for enormous mutual benefit.”