Where Were They Then?

Alan Bloomfield

THEN

Owned Galls, a Lexington, KY-based retailer of police equipment that he’d bought in 1980, after working at the company as a sales manager for 12 years. “I was putting out a little black-and-white flier and somebody told me about the DMA, so I called them and went to my first conference, and my wife went with me, and I think after about two days, I just quit. I told her I had learned so much in just two days, I had to implement this before I forgot. Consequently, the DMA and Catalog Age and the DMA councils opened my eyes and the doors to so many things I didn’t know how to do. I attribute an awful lot of Galls’s growth and success to those people.”

NOW

“I’m on a lot of boards of local organizations in Lexington. I spend my summers in Lake Cumberland, KY, staying there on my houseboat as much as I can, and spend winters in Naples, FL. Rest of the time, I do a lot of traveling.”

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

Introduced Galls catalog in 1985: “I had a list of people who’d done business with us, so I put out a mailer, and it started working. Then I sent it to people who didn’t know us, and it worked.” By the time he sold Galls to Philadelphia-based Aramark in 1995, the company had annual sales of $70 million. Stayed with Galls until 1997, then retired.

Ellen Brothers

THEN

Marketing assistant, Pepperidge Farm mail order

NOW

President of Middleton, WI-based Pleasant Co., best known for its American Girl line of dolls and books, and executive vice president at Pleasant Co.’s parent company, toymaker Mattel

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

President/general manager Pepperidge Farm mail order, 1988-1991; vice president of marketing, Atlas Editions, 1991-1994; joined Pleasant Co. as vice president of marketing in 1995 and was named president in 2000, following the retirement of founder Pleasant Rowland

HINDSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

#8220;I knew by the end of my tenure with Pepperidge Farm that direct marketing would be my career. I knew I had fallen into something magical.”

Gordon Cooke

THEN

Executive vice president of sales promotion and marketing at New York-based Bloomingdale’s Department Stores

NOW

President/CEO, Quincy, MA-based women’s apparel cataloger/retailer J. Jill Group (formerly DM Management), a job he’s held since 1996

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

Named president of Bloomingdale’s by Mail in 1990; after joining J. Jill in 1996 he guided the company’s expansion into retail, which began in December 1999

WORDS OF WISDOM

“You can’t just have channel expertise with no brand…What I don’t pretend to do is design and market the brand. I give people a lot of entrepeneurial freedom and responsibility, and only ask that they partner with me. They are allowed to express their passion for the business.”

Peter Canzone

THEN

President of multititle mailer Brylane, now a division of French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute

NOW

Having retired from New York-based Brylane in 2000, he is a part-time consultant and an owner of race horses

LOOKING BACK

“In 1982 we were purchased by [retailer] The Limited, and that opened us up to a great expansion of the business. Back then we were doing about $110 million in annual sales, but by 1993 we were at $650 million when we leveraged a buyout and became a separate, public company. By 1998 we were at $1.5 billion, with great acquisitions such as Chadwick’s of Boston, KingSize, and Roaman’s, and later the launch of Brylane Home.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“There are three things that catalog companies will have to address to be successful in the future. One is unique merchandise: Catalogers need to differentiate themselves from other catalogs and from retailers in order to attract more buyers and grow the business and therefore the industry.

“Also, catalogers really need to figure out how they will address shipping and handling charges going forward. Internet companies such as Amazon.com have changed the competitive playing field with free shipping offers, so catalogers will have to look at how they are charging for it, how it’s related to their business model and profitability, and find a way to remain competitive with these other promotional companies.

“Finally, they need to improve lifestyle branding on the Internet. Companies need to focus on getting away from square product shots online as technology improves and instead convey the same aspirational and romantic mood that they are conveying in their print books.”

Bill Crutchfield

THEN

CEO/founder of electronics catalog Crutchfield, which he started in 1974. “Crutchfield was at the most critical crossroads in its history.Sales had started to decline and, for the first time, we began to lose money. In 1983, I made the most important business decision in my career — to inculcate my core values into the entire business…I defined a set of Basic Beliefs based around service to our customers, employees, vendors, and based on the pursuit of excellence.”

NOW

CEO/founder of Charlottesville, VA-based Crutchfield. “Partly because every Crutchfield employee lives [the Basic Beliefs] fully, Crutchfield has grown 20-fold during the past 20 years.”

WHAT NEEDS CHANGE

“I feel that the industry has lost a big opportunity by not having developed stronger collective leadership.I am disappointed over how little influence we have over the USPS’s rates and practices.For example, here is just one of many problems that I think, as an industry, we should help address.Like most direct marketers, approximately 10% of our catalogs are not getting through to what we believe are good addresses.This problem has an adverse impact on every direct marketer’s response rates and profits.For the weak ones, it could mean the difference between survival and failure.Unfortunately, I do not see our industry flexing its huge muscle with the USPS….Other industries have been more effective in working together to achieve positive outcomes regarding their common challenges.”

Coy Clement

THEN

Divisional vice president at Fort Worth, TX-based electronics retailer Tandy Brands

NOW

President, ClementDirect, a catalog consultancy he founded in 2000 in East Greenwich, RI

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

Named vice president of direct marketing for Eddie Bauer in September 1984. During his nearly four years there, Bauer’s mail order sales increased 100%. From June 1988 to October 1994, was president/ CEO of Cleveland-based woodworking products catalog Leichtung. When Weehawken, NJ-based Hanover Direct acquired Leichtung in October 1994, served as executive vice president, nonapparel. In January 1996, became president/CEO of Westerly RI-based Paragon Holdings.

POINTS OF PRIDE

“Helping to reinvent Eddie Bauer as a sportswear company, building a strong professional direct marketing organization, and laying the foundations for successful retail expansion. Creating the Improvements catalog — yeah, I came up with the Improvements idea as a spin-off from the Leichtung catalog and then helped sell it to Hanover Direct. The guys running it now are people I hired and trained to serve home maintenance and repair needs. Beyond the idea itself, building the catalog into a successful business…The greatest reward is that the businesses and people have continued to be successful after my departure.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“Increasingly the major assets of multichannel companies will be proprietary products and distinctive brands. That’s a big change from 20 years ago when most catalogs would have said their greatest asset was their mailing list.”

Patricia Gallup

THEN

President of PC Connection, the computer reseller she cofounded in 1982

NOW

Chairman/CEO of Merrimack, NH-based PC Connection. “In the first six months, sales totaled $233,000. Today annual sales top the $1 billion mark.”

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…

“We put a lot of effort into making the catalogs ‘coffee table’ pieces. This tone was set with our first MacConnection catalog, which profiled the presidents of the companies that created the Mac software and peripherals we carried. We also pictured these industry ‘stars’ on baseball-type cards that we gave out at Macworld Expo. Later editions of our catalog highlighted local residents of the small town of Marlow, NH, our original corporate headquarters. On the PC Connection side, our first catalog followed the ‘origin of the PC’ in tongue-in-cheek style from prehistoric times to the present. It included a custom watercolor mural featuring scenes of our raccoon mascot using technology through the ages. Today, our catalog approach is more price- and product-oriented.”

…THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME

“I expect we’ll get even better at anticipating the needs of our customers. We’ll also continue to enhance the ways customers can interact with us, whether by phone, through e-mail, on a customized Web page, or perhaps some other way none of us can foresee. But some things won’t change. Customers will still want reliable information and the latest IT products and solutions at competitive prices.”

Bill Williams

THEN

senior vice president of mail order, Neiman Marcus

NOW

President/CEO, Bear Creek Corp., the Medford, OR-based parent company of food gifts catalog Harry and David and plants catalog Jackson & Perkins

THE NEXT BIG THING

Great opportunity lies with companies willing to sell nonluxury, must-have items, such as medication — “getting out of discretionary catalogs and into catalogs dealing with necessities.”

FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS — THEN AND NOW

“I liked the appearance of control. You know how many catalogs you’re sending out and who you are sending them to. It’s efficient, low capital, and a store without walls, as they used to say — any size you want it to be. [Of course] it’s an illusion of control. Really what you’re dealing with is probability.”

Chris McCormick

THEN

Assistant advertising manager for Freeport, ME-based catalog giant L.L. Bean

NOW

President/CEO of L.L. Bean, a title he assumed in 2001

LOOKING AHEAD

“The future of the catalog business remains bright for companies that are willing to embrace change and invest smartly in initiatives that will help to define their future identity. Since the 1980s, our industry has seemingly gone from zero to 60 in incredible time. First we had to rise above crowded mailboxes; then it was crowded electronic in boxes; now it’s price deflation due to market saturation and changing demographics. But in the end, it’s the same as it’s always been, really. The survivors will find compelling ways to deliver value and margin, only now they must do so in a price-deflationary retail environment where consumers have more options than they ever had.”

Jack Rosenfeld

THEN

Between stints at Hanover House, breeding horses on his farm. Also sat on the board of restuarant chain (and Hanover parent company) Horn & Hardart.

NOW

CEO/president of Medfield, MA-based Potpourri Collections, a multitile mailer of gifts and hobby catalogs

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

“I had been with Hanover from 1970 to 1977. From 1977 to 1986 I was raising and managing horses on a large farm. Then in 1986 I left the horse business and was asked to consult for Hanover. I did some acquisition work and some recruiting through the end of 1987, and then they asked me to come back in 1988 full time. I became the president once again. I left Hanover in 1995. That was my second retirement, and then in 1998 I bought Potpourri from Bill and Sue Knowles.” Potpourri owned four titles in ’98; today it owns 11, including Back in the Saddle and In the Company of Dogs.

POINTS OF PRIDE

“One of the things that I feel best about is the growth of the Domestications catalog. However, most of the credit belongs to [then catalog director] Charlie Pellenberg. In 1988, when I returned to Hanover, it was doing $29 million in annual sales, and we were able to grow it into a $300 million business within four years. Another thing I feel good about it was the acquisition of The Company Store from bankruptcy to became one of America’s premier and most successful brands. That was the best acquisition I have been involved with. But what I think is more important is that I have been able to hire and work with some of the best people in the industry — Ted Pamperin, Coy Clement, Robin Sheldon, Michael Sherman, Wayne Garten, and Stephen Marks.”

Harold Schwartz

THEN

President of Hanover House (later Hanover Direct), part of Horn & Hardart, which mailed 22 apparel and home goods titles, including, Lana Lobell, Pennsylvania Station, and Synchronics

NOW

Retired since 1992 and president of the largest Orthodox synagogue in Connecticut

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

President, Montgomery Ward catalog, 1984-1986; president/CEO of shoe cataloger/ fulfillment house Stuart McGuire 1986-1990; president, Joan Cook catalog, 1990-1992

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

“It was so easy to make money back then. We used to take our list and determine what people were buying. Suppose it was shoes. If we had enough names, we started a shoe catalog. And we sprinkled in some hot sellers in the book. And we watched the book’s performance carefully. The minute the book started to lose money, we scaled back our investment some. By the time we built our stable of books, we could afford to lose money on some titles, much like a group of stocks in your stock portfolio.”

POINTS OF PRIDE

Building the staff that worked to build Hanover. “We shared information back then so that the next guy wouldn’t make the same mistakes you did.”

Michael Sherman

THEN

Assistant corporate counsel for Joseph E. Seagram & Sons

NOW

Vice chairman, Tucson, AZ-based Crosstown Traders, which includes several former Fingerhut Cos. apparel titles, including Arizona Mail Order, Bedford Fair, and Lew Magram

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

Named vice president/general counsel of Horn & Hardart Co. (renamed Hanover Direct when the automat restaurant chain was shut down) in September 1983; joined Fingerhut Cos. in 1996 as senior vice president, where he assembled and led Fingerhut’s subsidiary group, which bought the Arizona Mail Order catalogs and Bedford Fair, Willow Ridge, Brownstone Studio, Lew Magram, and Popular Club Plan; became president of Fingerhut in 2000, leading the company to a $400 million profit turnaround in 2001.

LOOKING AHEAD

“While the direct marketing channel continues to grow as retailers and others seek to exploit the channel, catalogers’ offerings will need to be relevant in an attempt to overcome macro-economic issues (recessionary environment and deep discounting at retail). Regulatory challenges (opt-in, privacy, spam, taxation) may also scare away the timid. To those who believe, the next few years will be fueled with opportunity as sector consolidation will continue at a more rapid pace. Multichannel marketing with the printed advertising piece at its core will build and enhance customer lifetime values.”

Fred Simon

THEN

Executive vice president of Omaha Steaks International and general manager of the Gourmet Foods Division, the company’s consumer direct unit

NOW

“Semiretired” — he visits the office when he’s in town but also travels quite extensively. “My brothers and I are blessed with two children, Bruce and Todd, who are well educated and have a passion for the business. They currently are running Omaha Steaks and are doing a great job. I am on the board of directors and the executive committee, and continue to be the public spokesman for the company and stay involved in special projects to advance the Omaha Steaks group of companies. When it comes to day-to-day operations, I stay out of the way…and that isn’t always easy.”

POINTS OF PRIDE

“I am most proud of our focus on the customer. Our guarantee reads, ‘You must be thrilled,’ and we mean it. We do all we can to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Our guarantee is unconditional, and it allows our buyers to have enormous confidence in us. I consider it a privilege and obligation to talk personally with customers. I learn a lot, and often we make changes based on customer suggestions.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“Technology will continue to open more marketing channels and provide speedier, friendlier, and more-personal means of communicating with direct marketing purchasers. I believe we will see the greatest growth and success among those companies that parlay their technical skills to enable the building of real friendships with their customers. I see technology currently being used by many to improve internal business efficiency without concern for the feelings and comfort of customers. Direct marketing is a ‘me to you’ medium. The emphasis should be on ‘you.’”

Ben Stapelfeld

THEN

Commercial contractor

NOW

Chairman of New Pig Corp., a Tipton, PA-based manufacturer/marketer of industrial clean-up and waste-containment supplies that he founded in 1985

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

“We have more competitors and greater challenges — all around the industry is more complex. One of the biggest challenges is that manufacturing has suffered over the last 20 years, with much of it going offshore. That is our target market. So the only way for us to grow is to really be more efficient.

“One of my favorite changes over the years has been seeing the human growth of our company. We have seen our workforce expand, and we have seen housewives and farmers become expert direct marketers.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“You always need to be prepared for change. How we look today is not how we will look three, five, or even 10 years down the line. We have added more channels to our business, and we expect we will add even more. I think that as long as companies can master the basics of service and define the position of their company, they will master new channels and be able to thrive.”

Warren Struhl

THEN

Junior at Tulane University and running a business called Occasions Unlimited, a birthday cake and balloon delivery service to college kids ordered by their parents

NOW

Owner/chairman of trophies marketer Awards.com in Lyndhurst, NJ, and other companies, including Russ Candybears (confectionary products manufacturer), Amazing Savings (retail chain), and White Cloud Consumer Products

STOPS ALONG THE WAY

Founded specialty papers cataloger PaperDirect in 1989 and sold it in 1993; founded Genesis Direct in 1995, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999

WORDS OF WISDOM

“PaperDirect and Genesis Direct are my biggest success and my biggest failure, respectively. I’d actually like to say they’re two successes, even though one failed, because it taught me what I need to know for my next phase of business.”

Richard Thalheimer

THEN

President/owner of San Francisco-based Sharper Image, which he founded in 1978

NOW

CEO/chairman, Sharper Image Corp.

POINTS OF PRIDE

Creating an inhouse engineering and design team (Sharper Image Design group) in 1993 to develop proprietary products from concept to shelf. “I knew this strategic direction was necessary to grow and sustain a successful business. Many people said it was a recipe for disaster and that I shouldn’t pursue the idea. Today we have learned to make products in a wide range of areas including stereos, nose-hair trimmers, air purifiers, and fun products like the Now You Can Find It wireless locater.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“Catalogs and the Internet are becoming more and more complementary. Catalogs actively reach customers and demand attention; however, you may prefer to order online instead of talking to a live person or filling out an order form … In short, the catalog is the colorful, active driver for the consumer to make a purchasing decision regardless of how they place their order.”

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.