executive perspectives: Getting Connected
In 1994, Gary M. Brown began working in the promotional products industry as a supplier. He liked it well enough, but the landscape was changing, and he knew it; that same year, Time magazine ran a cover story on a hot, new, up-and-coming technology—a little thing called the Internet. Brown was inspired. He believed you could get good products from anyone, but sound marketing advice and creative ideas were hard to come by. He wanted to work with clients and find the best promotions to fit their needs—and he saw in the Internet as the perfect vehicle.
So in 1996, Brown left the supplier side to found The Image Factory LLC, where he'd serve as president and CEO. Based in Raymond, N.H., the distributor set its sights online. Brown would make e-commerce solutions the company's focus, betting that clients would begin to rely more and more on the Internet for their business needs. Nearly two decades and $2 million in annual sales later, it's clear Brown made the right call. The Image Factory LLC continues to supply large companies with e-commerce websites, and Brown continues to look forward for inspiration. Here, he shares his thoughts on the industry.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Gary M. Brown (GB): I have always looked to the future for my business ideas. All my goals are initially set for the long-term, about three to five years on average. Once the long-term goal is set I continuously test and refine the goal(s) based on the business environment and industry needs at the time. In my opinion, flexibility is the key to achieving any goal, short- or long-term.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
GB: For me, it has never been about price, so shrinking budgets is not a major problem in the big picture. However, I see that overall order volume is down a little in existing markets. This is more than offset by new market acquisitions and remaining out in front in new technologies. A bigger problem for myself is government regulations. From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Trade Commission, there have been some decisions made over the past five years that are killing the industry. Selling to the pharmaceutical industry is one glaring example of government overreach hurting the promotional products industry.