This past September marked the 27th anniversary of my involvement in our promotional products industry. I couldn’t be happier to have celebrated this anniversary and I am so grateful for my company and this amazing industry for enriching my life. In October I celebrated my 54th birthday which means that I have spent half of my life working in our industry.
2018 was a monumental year for myself personally, our company and I believe for our industry as a whole.
I brought on a new equity partner in Blue Point Capital. The Blue Point partnership has emboldened myself and my management team to launch many new initiatives that will allow our company to continue our growth for many years. In fact, 2018 was a record year for us in terms of sales growth and we are predicting that 2019 will be an even better year.
The Spector & Co Senior Management Team is comprised of a balance of senior VP’s, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning which equates to two and a half decades. Some have been with me a decade and a half and some have just joined our company in the last two years. The combination of our old pro’s and our new rookies have created an amazing mix of talent that will challenge the old norms and integrate cool new innovative programs within our company.
Our Digital Marketing team will be launching a new website in January that will be both distributor and end user friendly. It will move from a solely product focused database to one with rich content that will entice the user to view products in a new and engaging way. This team is also working on a mobile app that will be launched this summer.
Our new Senior Director of IT has been doing a thorough analysis of our business needs. The team will be exploring a new Cloud based ERP system to ensure that our company is poised to continue our growth by having live information available to both our staff and our customers. This will allow a free flow sharing of information that will make everyone’s companies stronger and will enable us to use this information for mutual growth.
We have launched an Innovation Strategy that consists of an amazing team of people to ensure that we continue to be innovative in our products, our decorating, our marketing and our supply chain. Our company has been paperless for almost a decade now and we want to ensure that this strategy challenges both our team and our clients to find ways to be more efficient and for our processes to be seamless across all channels.
Our Ashbury line of innovative bags has just concluded its first year and has already grown to be 10% of our total sales. Not bad to have achieved such success in an already mature and saturated product category. But alas, this is how we have been successful. We do not copy our competitors. We built this category from the ground up. We did a strategic analysis on the retail industry about what kinds of fabrics, colors, fashions and functionalities have been popular. We bought hundreds of samples from stores across the world. With this strategy in mind, we have now launched amazing products that have been sold through a large variety of corporations.
Our Sales Team has a new leader that has been working closely with our entire team to ensure that every territory is properly covered to share our products and our programs with whichever client shows interest. We have added two territory managers last year and plan on adding two more in 2019. One of our sales strategies is to work closely with our clients as partners to build sales together. We share our branding secrets with our clients which ensures that they share these techniques with theirs. Last year we increased face time with our clients and with corporations in suites, vineyards and in their very own offices to showcase the amazing promotional product programs that we can envision with their messages.
There’s no doubt that there’s been pressure on all suppliers to evolve and meet the conditions of our new marketplace. Corporate Social Responsibility has been a huge and growing trend within both our industry and within businesses everywhere in North America. We have grown our Compliance Team to ensure that we work with socially responsible factories and we’re making sure that every single one of our products will be tested annually starting in 2019. In addition, the minimum wage in Canada has increased several times in the past two years and we expect a continued increase. Last but not least, as many of our items are imported from China, we have been doing a thorough analysis of our supply chain to seek out alternate countries to source from. So, in the face of these market dynamics, our new pricing policies will be as follows:
Canadian Pricing: An increase of 3% on all products across the board.
USA Pricing: An increase of 3% on all products across the board.
USA Pricing: On products affected by the tariff increase, an additional 4% increase will be in effect (7% overall increase on these items).
In closing, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for their support and loyalty and wish everyone the happiest and healthiest of holidays.