In the wake of a comics shop market rocked by the pandemic and the loss of a major distribution client, Diamond Comic Distributors founder Steve Geppi announced that he will take back the role of president of Geppi Family Enterprises (GFE), the parent company of Diamond and its network of pop culture businesses.
Stan Heidmann, a former PepsiCo executive who joined the company to head GFE when it was formed in 2019, is leaving the company.
“Today I am announcing an organizational change that will help us lean even further into the many opportunities to elevate our industry, our business and our brands in this fast-moving and evolving marketplace,” Geppi said in an announcement issued July 1. Geppi is also chairman and CEO of Geppi Family Enterprises.
Geppi is returning to take charge of Diamond Comic Distributors, the dominant distributor of comics in the North American comic shop market, at time when the comics shop market is reeling after a cascading series of disruptive events brought on by the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic. In March, with comics shops and other comics retailers shuttered due to shelter in place orders, Diamond Comic (as well as Diamond Book Distributors, which services the book trade) was forced to halt shipments of all new comics to stores. In April, Diamond halted payments to publishers and other vendors due to cash flow issues linked to disruptions in the supply chain.
In June, as Diamond began to restart shipments, DC, one of the two dominant publishers (the other is Marvel) in the direct market comics shop channel, announced that it was ending its 25-year distribution relationship with Diamond, after setting up a separate and competing distribution channel with two mail-order comics vendors that have expanded their services to include national comics distribution.
“I have a strong history of growing and leading this organization for several decades and I am energized about our next phase,” Geppi said, emphasizing that more announcements about plans will be coming in the next few weeks.
“Under my guidance, the executive leadership team will support a comprehensive strategic review to position the enterprise for future growth. I feel a tremendous responsibility to our employees and the industry, and I fully intend to set all Geppi Family Enterprise brands on a path for robust growth.”