2021 Top Suppliers: Greater Pacific Industries’ Big Risk — And How It Paid Off
As part of Print+Promo Marketing's 2021 Top Suppliers list, we asked some of the top-ranked suppliers about how they fared during the first year of the pandemic, their thoughts on the industry, their future plans and more.
Check out our conversation with Ben Zhang of Greater Pacific Industries, the No. 17 company on our 2021 Top Suppliers list, below. Or, download the full 2021 Top Suppliers resource for the complete interviews, detailed stats and analysis for the Top 65, and results for our 2021 Supplier Excellence Awards.
Greater Pacific Industries – No. 17
2020 sales: $65.5 million
45 employees, 4 locations
Established in 1995
According to Ben Zhang, CEO and president of Greater Pacific Industries, selling PPE was the biggest professional risk he’s ever taken. That risk paid off for Greater Pacific Industries with the supplier reaching $65.5 million in 2020 sales — a 104.69% increase over the prior year. But it wasn’t a quick cash grab. Zhang immediately highlighted the differences between traditional promo and PPE, starting with regulations and requirements.
“[Our management, sales and project management teams] took initiative to learn about the CDC/FDA regulations as we transitioned to these products,” he said. “We had to become the ‘experts’ fast to keep up with the pandemic. To minimize the risk and learn quickly, we retained an experienced FDA attorney to navigate all the regulations, learning and training required. Also, we purchased additional product liability insurance for PPE including recalls. That was both expensive and increased our risk level.”
Zhang said the company’s monumental year also provided the financial resources and confidence his company needed to expand into other sectors, including retail and e-commerce.
Outlook: As Zhang looks to secure his company’s position, he plans to build up the new retail division, Pacific Retail Group, and Greater Pacific E-commerce on both Alibaba and Amazon platforms.
“[I’m paying attention to] licensed branded products for our retail and e-commerce divisions,” Zhang said. “Additionally, we are developing green products, such as solar energy consumer goods, recycled paper bags, etc. These are all trending products and [are] good for our Earth.”
And although PPE demand has since waned, Zhang’s experience will inform his leadership style going forward. He shared what he learned with us.
“Be willing to take a risk and learn to adapt quickly,” Zhang said. “We really had to be nimble as a company to survive and take on a whole new product category virtually overnight. But, in the meantime, it’s very important to make sure your eyes don’t get bigger than your stomach. Know your capacity, your strengths and your limitations as an organization. Always take care of your customers. Don’t over promise, be a good partner and educate your customers as much as you can. I think the companies that took on this mindset will be stronger and more successful.”