Tad Webster is not opposed to growth. As a distributor who’s experienced $4 million in business this year alone amid “phenomenal” sales, he’s eager to keep deals booming. It’s just that he’s focused on doing so in a way that doesn’t mean his company, Brandinc US Inc. (asi/145212), gets so big that it loses its small-business agility. “We’re small and scalable and very creative,” says Webster, the company’s president and managing director.
Though they may appear that way to their clients (even by design), the company is backed by a large, worldwide network of offices to help Brandinc have a global reach when needed. It’s helpful for everything from order fulfillment to product sourcing to faster, cheaper worldwide shipping. It provides added confidence for large corporate players to know their premiums are being supplied by a corporation every bit as global and savvy as they are. The combination of a boutique firm with global supply chain capabilities is a unique combination that sets the distributor apart. “When you can go into a pitch and talk about your experience in a particular industry, along with your strengths as a collaborative group and your ability to support [the customer] on a global level,” Webster says, “that’s different than what the rest of our industry is doing.”
The company’s emphasis regarding its worldwide reach with offices around the globe has helped it land several large, global corporate clients. “Let’s say [a client] is an airline,” Webster says. As an international carrier, it’s important for them to know that their global brand is being supported by a company that offers distribution centers at four locations (Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and Quebec) around the world, he says. “That’s huge,” Webster insists, since managing and controlling product imports can be one of a distributor’s biggest headaches.
Brandinc is based in London, and Webster – a Los Angeles-based promotional product veteran who had previously worked for Cyrk, Promo Shop and Made to Order – brought the company stateside in 2014. Currently the company only has salespeople and clients in California and Canada – and that’s on purpose. “We’re being very strategic about our growth,” Webster says. And though he envisions the company’s U.S. operations growing to $20 million in five years, he wants to do so in a measured way.
To do that, the company often focuses on just a few key market sectors or clients at a time, leveraging sales expertise rather than trying to blanket a geographic area or put out shotgun sales pitches to a wide swath of potential clients. For example, the distributor’s sales rep in Orange County is particularly well-versed in automotive sales (a high-interest market for end-users in that area); thus, Brandinc has focused much of its efforts in that arena. That level of expertise in autos, along with a global presence, helped Brandinc capture one of two major auto accounts recently. “It was an easier and quicker [sales] process for us because of that experience” in the auto industry, Webster says.
That approach has enabled Brandinc to find success largely in the automotive, entertainment and nonprofit sectors, where it has secured 80% of its growth. Not that other industries and market segments aren’t appealing to the company. “It would be great to take on any client possible,” Webster says, “but the key is to go after an industry that you can leverage, based on experience and history.”
Leveraging staff strengths is the key to not only high growth, but helps the company do more with fewer staff members. Webster’s North American operation is supported by a staff of 10, half of whom sell while the other five work in administrative or support roles. But with nearly every seller averaging $1 million in sales, growth has been achievable.
Much of that business gets landed because the company isn’t shy about spending heavily in the pitching process – hiring outside consultants, designers and others to polish product and packaging design, marketing strategies and the like when important clients are the target. More to the point, Webster and his team try to customize each pitch based upon the client’s needs as they pertain to products, end-user delivery, marketing strategy and other aspects. When it comes to product or packaging design and selection, “most people don’t take the time to create something unique for clients,” Webster says, let alone modify their sales pitch for each prospect.
Webster insists the company will have a solid presence on the East Coast in three years, but is fine taking his time to get there. “I’ve been with companies that failed and didn’t take into consideration that operational issues can occur when you expand too quickly,” he says.
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