Traveling Through Digital Waters
JOHN MCMANUS is celebrating a birthday. Ten years ago this October, he and his wife Gloria released their first catalog: a 32-page, black-and-white collection of products to make travel easier. They called their creation Magellan’s.
Today, McManus sounds like a proud father when he notes, “We’ve been on the Inc. magazine list of the 500 fastest-growing companies three years in a row (1995-1997). That’s a figure that we don’t mind sharing.” The cataloger’s annual revenue is up to $25 million and print runs vary between two and three million catalogs, with mailings scheduled four to five times a year. “We’ll be doing 100 pages, perfect bound, for fall, which will be the largest yet,” McManus beams.
What’s the secret of Magellan’s success? McManus attributes his company’s growth to sticking by its founding principles of delivering high- quality goods and spit-polished customer service. “We are still very hands-on and very customer driven,” McManus explains. “We spend a lot of time with our travelers who phone us. We don’t use a fulfillment house to take the calls because of the amount of information we like to pass on to our customers regarding how to use our products.”
This attention to detail is maintained from concept to fulfillment; for the creative process, this could spell workflow bottlenecks. But digital preprint technologies and a personal relationship with its preprint agency has meant clear sailing for Magellan’s, all the way to achieving filmless production.
A Star is Born
Near the close of the 1980s, to produce the catalog’s first issue McManus acquired a used Apple MacPlus and took a course on using Adobe PageMaker (then owned by Aldus). In 1995, McManus enlisted the services of John Balint—his former PageMaker coach and partner of Balint & Reinecke, a Santa Barbara, CA-based prerpess agency—to produce the growing catalog.