Sal Longo

In a session during the July 9-10 MeritDirect Business Mailers Co-op in White Plains, N.Y., four B-to-B catalogers and All About ROI On the Web columnist Terry Jukes candidly discussed how they’re going to retool and ready themselves for an economic recovery, all while enduring the current recession.

1983: Sal Longo and his brother Ronald found a home-based business selling first-aid kits and safety gear out of a van to local factories and municipalities in Frankfort, N.Y. 1985: The company adopts the name Northern Safety and enters the direct mail industry with an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch mailer with two gloves on one side. Armed with 1,000 names from the McCray’s Industrial Directory, Northern Safety sends the mailer in a No. 10 envelope and sees a 2.5 percent response rate. Later that year, the mailer turns into a 24-page catalog. Sales increase threefold over the previous year, and the company moves into a

By Matt Griffin&000;&000; &000;&000; Unique prospecting methods, employee empowerment and a key acquisition have fueled Northern Safety's speedy growth In just a year, safety and industrial supplies cataloger Northern Safety has acquired a competitor, added an outside sales force, nearly doubled its staff and opened the doors of a new distribution center. In the process, the company has increased its annual sales by more than 70 percent. Sal Longo, president of the Frankfort, N.Y.-based business-to-business (B-to-B) catalog, says this growth is the result of aggressive prospecting, strategic partnerships and empowering employees to get the job done on their own terms. Not that growth

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

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