Steady As She Goes
AmeriMark Direct relies on a profitable strategy of adhering to direct marketing disciplines, internal modeling and promotional prospecting.
If anything has characterized multi-title apparel, beauty products and accessories cataloger AmeriMark Direct since Gary Giesler and his partners purchased the company in 1998, it’s steady growth fueled by a disciplined approach to meeting customers’ needs.
Under the current ownership (eight-plus years), sales have grown 300 percent, and the Cleveland-based company has launched three catalogs and three Web sites. What’s more, a credit program, three membership plans and a customer rewards program have all combined to strengthen AmeriMark’s bond with its customers.
No stranger to cataloging, Giesler made a name for himself at Arizona Mail Order, now known as Crosstown Traders. He knew he was taking on a challenge with AmeriMark, describing the company at the time he acquired it as a “1950s-style business, with no management discipline.”
For instance, “There was no budget. They had little or no financial reporting,” he recalls. “The controller often waited about 45 days after the quarter until he had all his bills in to prepare a financial statement.”
But a lack of strict business rules wasn’t the only challenge Giesler and his team faced. On April 5, 1998, just four days after the deal closed on AmeriMark, a heater in the company’s warehouse started a fire, resulting in smoke damage to all of the apparel.
It was a major hindrance to AmeriMark’s business, resulting in unfulfilled orders, back orders and several months’ disruption of service until the warehouse could be repaired. “We were right into the spring season, so we really missed the entire spring and part of the summer season because we were primarily an apparel business at that point in time, with some cosmetics and jewelry,” Giesler recalls. “We closed on the company on April Fool’s Day, so I guess that should’ve told us something.”