The 2009 calendar year has brought us in the collectibles business several important changes to the hobby landscape. Whether it was the Donruss sale, Upper Deck's new deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company or the recent announcement by Major League Baseball naming Topps as its exclusive licensing partner for 2010, the winds of change are blowing strong in the industry and those changes have prompted numerous questions. We at Tuff Stuff want to answer the many questions these changes have brought with them. To do so, we went straight to the top of the food chain and asked the executives who make the decisions that shape the hobby. We at Tuff Stuff want to answer the many questions these changes have brought with them. To do so, we went straight to the top of the food chain and asked the executives who make the decisions that shape the hobby.
In an effort to provide our customers with the answers they want, we’ve come up with a new Tuff Stuff series entitled “Ask The Execs.” The series will feature exclusive interviews with the most influential industry leaders including Upper Deck CEO, Richard McWilliam, Panini America CEO Michael Eisenstein and Topps Vice President Warren Friss. The series will kickoff in our next issue (December cover date) so look for our first exclusive Q&A session with UD CEO Richard McWilliam coming soon.
The following is a sampling of the exclusive interview conducted with Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam.
Tuff Stuff: Considering that UD and UDA still have LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan under exclusive contracts, it seems that if the NBA was looking for an exclusive provider it would’ve turned to Upper Deck. Can you explain how it didn’t unfold that way and what efforts were made by UD before the decision to go exclusively with Panini was made?
McWilliam: "Of course Upper Deck made efforts to pursue the NBA license. Upper Deck is and has been the dominant NBA market leader for 15-plus years. I’m certain collectors and shop owners would agree. I can’t speak as to why the NBA did what they did. I can only say that the financial aspect of the NBA package, based on the size of that market, would have been grossly irresponsible for Upper Deck to commit to."