B2B Brand Group, the parent company of the T. Shipley, Reliable HomeOffice, and Awards.com catalogs, is regrouping. On May 16, the Altamont Springs, FL-based company laid off 30-35 employees — about one-third of its staff — in the marketing and merchandising departments.
At press time, T. Shipley founder Tom Shipley remained with B2B Brand Group, but he was no longer president/CEO of the catalogs. His role “is in transition now,” he says. “As a member of the board, I am doing whatever is necessary to make the business successful.”
So far, the company is keeping mum on what that might be. B2B Brand Group general manager Mitch Rothschild would say only that the revised company will remain focused on selling to businesses, though it won’t necessarily do so primarily via catalog mailings.
In fact, Rothschild says that none of the company’s three catalogs will mail over the summer months. “We’re hibernating for a few months,” he says, “because we have a lot of deadlines with this new initiative. But while we’ll make some modifications to the catalogs, none of them will be discontinued.”
Although the books will be back in the mail in the fall, Reliable HomeOffice will no longer sell large furniture, such as wall units and desks. Those items currently represent 40% of the catalog’s offerings.
“Reliable, which has the biggest consumer focus of our catalogs, will have the most adjustments,” Rothschild says. “We know we don’t want to be in the furniture business; we’re not furniture-business people. So we won’t sell the big, oversize stuff, because it’s not our core competency. But we’ll still sell telephones, Web connectivity items, filing systems, lighting, and other smaller items in Reliable.”
T. Shipley merged with recognition products marketer Awards.com last August to form B2B Brand Group. Awards.com founder/CEO Warren Struhl became chairman, and Shipley was named president. Awards.com had bought Reliable HomeOffice the week prior to the merger with T. Shipley. The company also operates Durham & Co., a promotional products business that it acquired from in-flight cataloger SkyMall last year, which produces promotional products catalogs customized for individual businesses, including the U.S. Postal Service.