Safely Ahead of the Game
2006: In May, Northern Safety completes the acquisition of Kingsport, Tenn.-based Safeco, an occupational health and safety products supplier with an outside sales force. Immediately after closing the sale, Northern Safety buys a warehouse in nearby Church Hill, Tenn., and begins construction on office space on that site. At press time, the project is scheduled for completion in mid-August.&000;&000;
About Northern Safety
Headquarters: Frankfort, N.Y.
Year founded: 1983
Merchandise: safety and industrial supplies
Price point range: $3 to $3,000
Average order size: $250
Annual circulation: About $7 million
Mailings per year: 32
# of SKUs: 20,000
# of employees: 310
Customer demographics: top 10 SIC codes, e.g., agriculture, construction, manufacturing, utility and mining
Sales per channel: 20 percent Web; 30 percent outside sales; 50 percent catalog/telesales
Annual sales: $120 million (est.)
Printer: Press of Ohio, Transcontinental of Canada and Quebecor
List manager: MeritDirect
12-month housefile: 225,000&000;&000;
Tracking Northern Safety's Sales
2002 - $39.5 million
2003 - $45.4 million
2004 - $53.1 million
2005 - $64.8 million
2006 - $120 million (est.)
Sal Longo's Catalog Startup Tips
Since he co-founded Northern Safety when he was just 20 years old, President Sal Longo says he had to learn everything the hard way, finding everything out for himself. Here's some advice he wishes he'd known then:
→ Go to conferences and meet as many people as you can. First, you'll meet some of the best consultants at industry events, and second, you'll meet seasoned catalog veterans who can share their expertise. Learn as much as you can.
→ Find a mentor. Longo says he often forms advising relationships with companies new to the direct marketing game. He recommends looking for mentors outside your product vertical just to eliminate any potential conflicts with your business.
→ Put your own spin on outside advice. While Longo does advise that you listen to what experts say, he suggests giving it a good wring through. "Try to understand what's legitimate advice, and what just won't work for the way you do business," he says.