A Chat With Harvey Dean, president/CEO, Pitsco
CS: How many new, proprietary products do you come up with in a given year?
Dean: I’d say between 40 and 50 each year that we come up with. We have a full manufacturing facility. That’s only 40 people, but they’ve been at it for a long time, and they’re very loyal. I was out there earlier today for pizza because they won a competition for United Way Giving. We have good people, and we manufacture almost 1,000 products.
CS: Do you carry non-proprietary products?
Dean: That’s an interesting story. If you take the products in our big book, about 380 pages, about 17 percent of the products in there are proprietary. The rest are things we buy from someone else and resell. But that 17 percent we manufacture represents a very large percent of our sales out of that catalog. You wouldn’t know it, because those products are spread all throughout the catalog, but those are the products that sell best.
CS: Do you market those products more heavily?
Dean: We do a better job of featuring them. We have some champion products on double-page spreads.
CS: Do you have teachers on staff developing new products and curriculum?
Dean: Yes, we have 10 teachers on staff. They write curricula for our system side. We have on that team a staff of about 30, the rest of which are programmers, editors, videographers, digital artists. But 10 of them are teachers. The teachers are the leaders of the development teams for new products.
CS: What’s your biggest business challenge in 2005, and how do you plan to resolve it?
Dean: Our ability to communicate our systemic solutions so school districts and administrators will understand the success they can have with them. We have research data from 10 different studies we’ve done. We have conferences. All of that helps our sales force. But it’s a big country, and we’re a little company. It’s part of that conundrum: How do you best communicate a solution like ours?