New Leaf Distributing Company, one of the largest wholesalers of New Age titles, is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2002. Alim Thompson, who founded the company in 1975 and retired in 1994, has once again become president and CEO on a full-time basis. Thompson had been serving as interim CEO since the death last October of Rich Bellezza.

Thompson acknowledged that New Leaf experienced some service problems last year and that the company was operating at a loss. The death of Bellezza compounded the problems, and New Leaf's bankers worried about the direction of the company. But Thompson said that while sales in the fourth quarter were disappointing, the company posted a small profit in the period, and he was confident the worst of New Leaf's problems are over.

Thompson, just back from the International New Age Trade Show, where he said he received "lots of positive feedback," told PW that his immediate goal is to win back the market share New Leaf lost over the past year. Among the initiatives already under way is the creation of an online ordering site at Thompson said he is also expecting a fresh infusion of funds to improve the company's cash flow situation. Once New Leaf's finances are stabilized, Thompson said he will look at a wide range of options to expand the company's business including the possibility of adding sales reps to New Leaf's staff.