On Aug. 17, 2009, Liquor Commission Chairman Mark Bodi commemorated the 75th anniversary of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission by meeting the family members of the customer and clerk who transacted the first sale at a state liquor store. That sale and the anniversary event took place at the store in Nashua. In 2011, the state opened a new 20,000-square-foot Nashua liquor store that was part of an aggressive rebranding campaign led by Bodi, who more than any other individual made sure that New Hampshire’s state liquor operations had a solid foundation for their next 75 years.
On Wednesday, Bodi announced his intention to resign from the Liquor Commission and return to the private sector. His departure will be a loss for taxpayers and drinkers alike.
Gov. John Lynch named Bodi, an advertising executive, the commission chairman in 2007, and Bodi wasted no time improving operations. One of the first big orders of business was to sign a new advertising contract. The commission requested bids, and the process, from which Bodi had recused himself, was competitive. Just before the winner was announced, the firm that had held the contract for 17 years withdrew. It was Bodi’s old firm. It was clear then that things were going to be different at the Liquor Commission.
Bodi immediately focused on marketing, cost-cutting and customer service. Sales began to rise quickly. In 2009, in the midst of the recession, sales were up 4 percent and profits 8 percent over the previous year. In the next few years, Bodi led the commission’s effort to close underperforming stores and upgrade the selection (and the stores themselves) where tourist traffic was high. The result was a steady increase in liquor store revenue.
Bodi’s reputation was unfairly tainted by false allegations that he inappropriately intervened in an investigation of a Keene tavern. He did not. That sad political episode should not tarnish Bodi’s legacy.
Bodi, a creative manager, should be remembered for his innovations that improved Liquor Commission operations and raised revenue, thus reducing the pressure on legislators to raise taxes. If the state had more managers like Mark Bodi, it would be in much better financial shape.