A Chat With Sue Landay, President, Trainer’s Warehouse
© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, February 2006
Catalog Success: When was the catalog established?
Sue Landay: The business was started in 1993 and our first catalog was in 1994. It was a two-color catalog.
CS: Where are your headquarters?
SL: Natick, Mass. About 20 miles west of Boston.
CS: What is your primary merchandise?
SL: We have unusual tools and toys for classroom teachers and trainers. For example, beyond what you might expect such as easels and markers, we have reusable name cards. We have signs for the classroom, such as “Cell Phones Irritate Learning,” and other funny, off-the-wall signs. We have Dilbert mints, welcome kits, music to set the tone for fun and learning. It’s a fun product line — an unusual product line to add fun to the classroom.
CS: What’s the annual circulation of the catalog?
SL: In 2006, it will be about 2.5 million.
CS: What are your primary customer demographics?
SL: Most of our market is within the U.S., although we do have some international. Most of our customers are either corporate trainers or they teach in schools. They’re all classroom presenters in some form. Although some of our products, we’ve found, are applicable in different industries. It’s quickly growing and expanding from that initial niche.
CS: What are your main sales channels?
SL: We primarily prospect and send out to our customers using catalogs. We don’t have a store front. We do take orders via phone, fax and Web.
CS: Your dad started the company, right?
SL: My dad started the company about 13 years ago. The company originally was called Office Images. The original concept was to sell products that would make people’s office feel more interesting and personalized. One of the first products he developed was a Velcro-backed plastic frame. And he found after trying to sell these products through company stores and direct-to-business channels that there was a different audience. In the same day he got two orders for something like 500 of these frames. They were his biggest orders ever up to that point. He told each of the individuals placing the orders that he’d fill the orders if they would tell him what they were going to do with the frames. And it turned out that both of these corporate customers were going to use the frames for their training departments to hand out course completion certificates. After the great day he had, he thought that he would look into more products that corporate trainers might need. So the company evolved to selling frames, plus other products, to corporate trainers. And then I came along and started changing the name on him. Actually I had him do that even before I joined the business.