2017 Hot List: John Henry III

"You treat others how you want to be treated."

Our annual picks of the industry’s rising stars – a brave, bold group that’s trailblazing a unique path to success.

John Henry III

JH Specialty (asi/232445)

Hustle and vision. They’re hallmarks of every successful entrepreneur. John Henry III has both by the bushel.

While a sophomore at Indiana University, Henry founded JH Specialty (asi/232445) after seeing the opportunity to sell T-shirts to fraternities and sororities. After graduating with a degree that included computer information systems, Henry steered his fledgling company into e-commerce before many in the industry were considering online selling. “We launched our first website to sell promo products in 2002,” says Henry. “We got an order the next day.”

Over the ensuing 15 years, Henry has spearheaded innovation and growth. JH Specialty employs more than 30 people and earns north of $7 million in sales annually. Part of the company business model includes capturing sales from web-surfing shoppers through and various microsites. JH builds upon the online transactions by cultivating relationships through consultative service. For instance, a customer once placed a $300 order online. Henry developed the relationship to where the same client recently spent $90,000 in a single week.

Under Henry’s leadership, JH Specialty has also evolved into something of a one-stop shop for tech solutions, providing services like web design, email marketing, SEO and more. “The relationship usually starts with promotional products, and then we can grow into other things,” says Henry.

While dollar-and-cents success is important, Henry is equally proud to helm a company with a fun workplace culture. Indeed, JH Specialty has been a staple on Counselor’s Best Places to Work list. Whether it’s with employees or customers, “the secret for success really is no secret at all,” says Henry. “You treat others how you want to be treated.”

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