A Chat With Harvey Dean, president/CEO, Pitsco
CS: When did the catalog come into play?
Dean: Actually when we were all three still together, we decided we needed a little catalog in 1972, so we put together a 16-page catalog. But we also included supplies in the catalog that would go with our kits. Things you’d need to do the projects. These were things like glue and sandpaper. We printed 3,000 of those, not full-size, 7˝ x 9˝ or something. The font was probably eight point or smaller, too.
Back then, we didn’t have computers, so we had to typeset everything. The printing company had one of the new versions of IBM or something. We only sent out about 1,000 of them. I remember we were working on something one night and one of us looked up at some shelves we had on the wall. And he said, look at those shelves! And together we all just had this realization that we knew we could only send 1,000 catalogs, but we had 3,000 printed. Like the extra 2,000 would do us any good. We had no concept. We had a passion for putting new concepts and ideas into teachers’ hands, which was unique, especially for the industrial arts.
CS: Where did you find the names to mail those first 1,000?
Dean: We had a directory for a national organization of teachers in technology education, industrial arts. We also called some state education departments and got some names in the Midwest as well.
CS: So you didn’t have any experience in cataloging?
Dean: Oh no. We flew blind for years. Some people would say we still do. I’ll tell you the reason we changed the catalog when we finally did, though. I got a little flyer once that had been put together by a couple of guys in Utah. I called them on the phone. I guess it was a 16-page booklet, full-size, saddle stitched, and it was laid out well, and very graphically engaging. So I called the company that had put it together, and it was just two guys. I went out to Salt Lake City in 1978, and I asked them if they would design our catalog. And they said no. At least initially. They said they’d only do the catalog if we would paid them a sum of money to conduct a survey and profile the people to whom we were selling, the teachers.