All in the Family: Jennifer Stromberg Is Bringing Big Ideas to StrombergBrand Umbrellas
Note: This story was originally published in the February 2020 issue of Promo Marketing magazine.
When StrombergBrand Umbrellas, Valley Cottage, N.Y., got its start back in 1942, rain hadn’t even been invented yet. That’s a joke. (Rain was famously invented in 1927.) But the company’s record as a family business is anything but. Richard Stromberg, CEO, took over from his father, who founded the company 78 years ago. Helen Stromberg, Richard’s wife, serves as president, handling a significant portion of operations. In a time where the promo industry is rapidly consolidating, with mergers and acquisitions routinely dominating industry headlines, it’s always nice to see a family business not just survive, but thrive.
Jennifer Stromberg thinks so, too. The daughter of Richard and Helen, Jennifer has always been around StrombergBrand. As a child, she’d roll umbrellas, collate product catalogs and accompany her parents to trade shows. Later, she’d help work those shows, before departing for a career in marketing management and advertising. She worked in those roles for global brands like Pepsi, Frito-Lay and HP, spending 10 years in Europe and honing her skills.
“I’ve worked on every aspect of brand and product management, and I’ve seen the key role promotional products can play in the overall marketing mix,” Jennifer says. “Brands are like living, breathing beings nowadays! Creating a relationship with consumers is something every brand strives for. I’ve [also] gained a real love for product development. The innovation we see today in products—as well as in technology and manufacturing—is fascinating, and it’s only going to continue.”
Now, she’s bringing those skills back to StrombergBrand. In January of this year, Jennifer was named vice president of the company—a third-generation family executive with 15 years of outside experience. This may have been her plan all along. “I always believed I could add value by returning back to the company after seeing how business and marketing was done elsewhere, by bringing a fresh and unique perspective to the company,” she says.
A few months into her role, she’s already doing just that. She’s working on strategic plans for company growth, evaluating the full scope of StrombergBrand’s business inside and out. That means improving quality, sustainable practices and costs in products and manufacturing. Developing overseas relationships. Investing in sales and marketing to widen the company’s footprint in promo (and maybe beyond). Exploring technology and tools to help the company work faster, run better and provide the best possible customer experience. You know, really easing into the job.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my former companies, it’s if you don’t stay ahead of the curve in all areas of your business, you’ll be behind before you know it,” Jennifer says.
Too many family businesses learn that lesson the hard way. But not StrombergBrand—especially not now, with Jennifer’s expertise. Clearly, she has big ideas for the company, ones informed not just by her experience outside the promo industry, but her knowledge of it.
“I believe the promo industry is an extremely vibrant one, and within that, the umbrella category has grown tremendously,” she says. “What was once a niche gift-giving item has gained a real appreciation in recent years among distributors and their customers. Everyone loves receiving an umbrella, and StrombergBrand offers all the most popular umbrella styles while also fitting easily into promotional gift budgets. What makes us unique is our focus on high-quality and low prices.
“That said, I believe the entire industry needs to be vigilant to how current events or new players can change the landscape,” she adds. “We must make sure we continue to grow in sophistication, and that we never stop looking for ways to innovate and stay relevant.”
As long as Jennifer is involved, that won’t be an issue for StrombergBrand.