Interview with Dave Nielsen, president, Overstock

This article is part of a series featuring business executives who choose to live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please contact us.

Dave Nielsen is Overstock’s retail president, leading the company’s marketing, algorithms, customer, digital, technology, strategy, and sourcing and operations organizations.

Before his current role, Nielsen served as Overstock’s chief sourcing and operations officer, where he was responsible for overseeing the sourcing, merchandising, partner management, and supply chain teams for the company. Before leaving Overstock to assume the role of CEO at Global Access, Nielsen spent six years with Overstock.com, rising to the position of co-president and leading the company’s marketing, merchandising, and supply chain operations.

Overstock.com Inc (OSTK) is a Midvale, Utah-based technology company that integrates emerging technologies to existing markets, creating efficiencies, convenience, and savings for customers. Overstock’s award-winning retail website, Overstock.com, has an annual revenue of nearly $2 billion, features almost seven million new and first-run products from top brands, and is visited by up to 40 million customers each month.

How did you get started in the industry?
After graduating from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in marketing, I was recruited to Payless ShoeSource in Topeka, Kansas to participate in their Corporate Management Associate training program. At the time, Payless ShoeSource was importing approximately 140,000,000 pair of shoes annually and distributing them to over 5,000 stores throughout the United States. The entire process, from sourcing the product overseas to the sale of the product in a store, fascinated me. I’ve remained in the retail industry my entire career.

What recent professional accomplishments you are most proud of?
I believe professional accomplishments are the result of team efforts.

The greatest team accomplishment I’ve been a part of is the recent turnaround of Overstock’s retail business. We are on pace to deliver $165 million in annual retail contribution this year, up from $78 million in annual retail contribution in 2018, which is quite a team accomplishment. I am proud to be a part of the current executive team at Overstock.

The second is the talented leadership teams I’ve had the privilege of assembling over the years, and the successes and accomplishments we have achieved together. I have truly enjoyed the relationships with so many wonderful people over the years in the retail industry.

What do you like most about living in Utah?
I love the mountains and diverse landscape. Skiing, enjoying the mountains and house boating at Lake Powell are some of my favorite activities.

What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah has a very entrepreneurial-minded workforce. Developing new and innovative products requires the right talent base, and Utah has a terrific talent pool.

What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business to Utah?
Go for it! Utah is one of the most entrepreneurial-minded states you could ask for in starting a business. You’ll have no problem finding talent to support your growth.

What is your primary challenge of doing business in Utah?
Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important in any organization and filling positions in this field has become challenging, even in a state that has so much to offer in terms of quality of life and recreational opportunity.

What is your personal business philosophy?
Empower your leaders to lead and give them and their teams all the credit when they deliver.

What is one management technique or practice you think every business should adopt?
Every executive team or leader should look to their frontline associates or knowledge frontier for ideas to grow the business. The frontline associates are the closest people to your customers and are full of ideas to improve the customer experience. Some of the best innovations over the years at Overstock have come from our social choice platform where employees submit and prioritize new ideas.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I love a good football game, whether a little league, high school, college or the NFL. I love the strategy and team element of the game.

Dave Nielsen is the president of Overstock.com, a Midvale, Utah-based technology company that integrates emerging technologies to existing markets.
Connect with him on LinkedIn.