Headquarters: Delray Beach, FL
Merchandise sold: high-end reading and writing products; home and personal accessories
Annual circulation: about 26 million
Sales channels: catalog, retail, Internet
Customer demographics: 80 percent hold Bachelor’s degrees, and 45 percent hold advanced degrees.
How the catalog was started: In the 1980s, Leveen and his wife, Lori (an equal partner and founder in the company), realized there was not enough light for both of them to read in their small Boston condominium. Soon, their wheels began to turn, and they placed a 1˝ ad in The New Yorker in October 1987. The ad read: “Serious Lighting for Serious Readers.” Thus, Levenger’s first successful product was a reading light to be used in bed.
The couple combined their surnames of Granger and Leveen to form the company name, Levenger. They describe the catalog as the first “dedicated to serving readers with products.”
In time the product line expanded to other merchandise.
The early years: “Initially, there were many days consisting of no sales, no revenue or even negative sales,” he says. “There were a lot of sleepless nights in the first few years.”
Expanding the retail channel: Levenger has a retail store in its Florida headquarters. And this month the company will open a 2,300-square-foot shop on the first floor of the Marshall Field’s flagship store in Chicago.
Grew up: San Diego
Education and early experience: Graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with a B.A. in Biology. “I originally wanted to be a doctor,” he says. “I went from left to right field, I suppose.” He continued his studies at Cornell University, where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology.
His role at the catalog: Overall strategy. Daily operations are left to the “great people running the company.” Leveen also works on general product development, and Lori works on the human resources side.