It’s been a swift rise for Amandeep Kochar, who joined Baker & Taylor in 2014 and enthusiastically fulfilled several roles on his way to being named executive v-p and general manager in 2019. But in November 2021, Kochar took his enthusiasm to the next level—he bought the company from parent Follett Corp.
“I certainly never expected to own B&T when I joined the team,” Kochar says. “But over the last several months, I started to see the opportunity was there to take the business independent again, so I approached the Follett team with the idea of divesting the company, and they were very supportive and were partners throughout the process.”
Kochar’s move is a bold one in the wake of a global pandemic that has clouded the outlook for many businesses. But what’s clear is that Kochar’s confidence in B&T’s future comes from his passion for the company’s customers: libraries—which, he notes, have performed so strongly in the face of overwhelming challenges during the pandemic.
“What makes Baker & Taylor special is our team and the libraries we serve. Libraries are one of the last true trusted public institutions. How can we continue to provide solutions to libraries that reinforce that role?” Kochar says. “And the depth and experience of our team is unrivaled. I am excited to harness that. I see a lot of opportunities to continue developing products and services that make librarians’ lives easier and amplify their impact on community outcomes.”
Charting a new course for an independent B&T will certainly have its challenges, Kochar acknowledges. “Like most companies, the first task is to continue to manage and stabilize operations as we emerge from the pandemic,” he says. “We have faced the same supply chain pressures as many in our industry, and we continue to be focused on ensuring our customers face minimal disruptions and that our partners are well positioned in the marketplace.”
As a new year dawns and a new era begins for B&T, the library community will certainly be watching closely to see how the wholesaler’s next chapter unfolds. But what has to be encouraging for libraries is that Kochar’s bet on B&T’s future is a bet on the future of libraries. And his commitment to libraries is deeply personal.
“When I started in 2014, I instantly fell in love with the industry and the work Baker & Taylor does,” he says. “To have a company that started in 1828 still be thriving and evolving to meet changes in a rapidly evolving marketplace is incredibly motivating to me.”