A Chat with Arnie Zaslow, executive vice president, ATD American Co.
CS: What is your current biggest business challenge and how do you plan to resolve it?
AZ: I’d have to say that with the consolidations we’ve seen out there... well, this isn’t a challenge so much as a windfall. As many catalogers become bigger through consolidation, and they lose that personal touch, it’s been a strong plus for us. I’m struggling as I’m thinking here what our current challenges are. I suppose I’d have to say the cost of producing and mailing catalogs, particularly the postage aspect. It’s gotten so huge, as the Web continues to grow and as e-mail solicitations develop more solidly, there are great temptations to mail fewer catalogs. But maybe UPS will come along one day and tell the U.S. Postal Service, “Let us deliver bulk mail because we can do it more cheaply than you.” Don’t quote me on that. But it’s a challenge. And constantly trying to improve response rates and dollar returns per catalog. Those are the greatest challenges today.
CS: Have you had any mentors?
AZ: Oh yes. I come from a close-knit family. And I’ve worked together, for the last 60 years, with two brothers. And my late father and my brothers always have been mentors to me. It sounds peculiar at my age, but I’m the baby. My two older brothers always have guided me. And even to this day, we do consult with one another on virtually every subject. Our lives are very intertwined, professionally as well as personally.
CS: What about the business appeals to you?
AZ: Everything, particularly the challenges. It keeps you on your toes. I like the catalog business because it has virtually unlimited potential. If you want to build, add more product, add more mailing lists, build more customers. It’s all within our reach. It’s like the old phrase, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” You see people out there who’ve been unusually successful because of their imaginative efforts. We would like to think that we have been blessed with some of that imagination. Every face of this business attracts both me and my brothers. That’s why we’re still in it. Let me answer that question a better way, and I apologize in advance if it’s a little lengthy.