Executive Greetings Acquires Four BTB Titles

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Business-to-business cataloger Executive Greetings Inc., New Hartford, CT, has acquired four catalogs in an ongoing effort to beef up its custom-imprinted product offerings. The acquisitions bring its title count to 25 in eight product categories.


On March 15, it officially closed on Curtis Rand Inc., a $6.5 million custom-imprinted promotional products cataloger in San Francisco. In late February, the $130 million company acquired Ready Made Signs, Turnkey Material Handling and Timewise (formerly Caddylak Systems) from Landmark Direct, a mid-sized BTB direct marketer in Tonawanda, NY.


Financial terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.


The three books acquired from Landmark generate just less than $10 million in annual sales combined. Ready Made specializes in standard and made-to-order safety signs and tags. Turnkey sells mainly warehousing products such as pallet jacks, shelving and bubble wrap. Timewise sells pre- and custom-designed white marker boards, day planners and other productivity management products.


Though all three books will continue to mail under their current names, Executive Greetings will roll Ready Made's operations into its Grand Prairie, TX-based SA-SO safety sign catalog, which it acquired in 1999. The Ready Made acquisition doubles Executive Greetings' revenue in the safety sign market.


Fulfillment and production operations for the three books acquired from Landmark also are moving to the 120,000-square-foot Texas facility. Call center operations for the books will be integrated into Executive Greetings' 160,000-square-foot administrative and production facility in Connecticut.


"[SA-SO] was kind of our first entry into the safety signage market, and we're trying to grow that," said Lee Bracken, president/CEO of Executive Greetings. "Certainly, Ready Made was a direct fit, and for that matter even the Timewise [white board] business is pretty similar in terms of manufacturing and fulfillment to signage."


Curtis Rand, which mainly drop ships, will keep its operations and its 32 employees in San Francisco.


Executive Greetings' other books include Grayarc, Dental IdeaBook, Success Builders, Baldwin Cooke, HRdirect and Cardinal Originals. Executive Greetings' average order size is just less than $200.


"Our product lines are very consumable. Over 80 percent of our products are imprinted," Bracken said. "The consumability of [Landmark's] products is a little less than the product lines we already have, but there are opportunities for add-on sales.


"The predominant similarity is that there is some type of customization, personalization or value added to what we're selling," he said. "Now obviously, Turnkey doesn't quite fit that, but we also sell some office supplies and shipping supplies."


List firm MeritDirect LLC, Stamford, CT, manages Executive Greetings' list, which Bracken said is a three-year active customer file of just more than 1 million small businesses. The customer files of Ready Made, Timewise and Turnkey will move from Greenwich, CT-based Direct Media Inc. to MeritDirect.


Ralph Drybrough, CEO of MeritDirect, said that while the three books acquired from Landmark are fairly small, "these are long-standing, well-respected businesses. [Executive Greetings] can add points of margin just by consolidating" and eliminating administrative redundancies.


As for customer file overlap between the ones recently acquired and Executive Greetings' current one, Bracken said, "When you do merge/purge, it's usually pretty amazing how low the overlap is because you're dealing with small businesses and everybody's kind of carved out their own customer base."


Meanwhile, selling three businesses unrelated to first aid allows Landmark to focus on its core product line, which is marketed under five titles: three specialty books under the name Medco, a podiatry catalog called Surgical Supply Service, and another catalog called Masune First Aid and Safety.


"Part of what's in it for Landmark is they get to spin off these operations and don't have to deal with them anymore, and they can focus on Medco," Bracken said. "We're large enough that if an owner or large corporation wants to spin something off, we've got the operational capability to go ahead and fold those in. So there are consolidation opportunities from that perspective."


Also, having rid itself of printing and manufacturing equipment, Landmark expects to double or triple the number of orders it can process in its warehouse.


"The big benefit is we increase our throughput," said John Greenberger, CEO of Landmark. "We won't have as diverse a product line, so we won't have as many dissimilar products, and we don't need as many box sizes. The whole process is simplified in terms of filling an order."


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