Q&A: Jeff Lederer, President of Prime Line, on Recent Acquisitions and Outlook for 2014
On Jan. 13, top 50 promotional products supplier Prime Line announced that it had acquired industry direct sourcing companies R.O.I. by Source Abroad and Get It Global in separate transactions. In an interview with Promo Marketing, Jeff Lederer, president of the Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Prime Line discussed how the acquisitions came about and what it means for the company. Below, read Lederer's thoughts on overseas sourcing, what it means for the company and for distributors, and what to expect in 2014.
Promo Marketing: Tell us how the deals with R.O.I. Line by Source Abroad and Get It Global got started.
Jeff Lederer: In general, our first focus is always how can we give distributors higher levels of service, more competitive pricing and help them get more orders, and have them do that with Prime. That is what was important to us when we looked for opportunities to grow that side of our business. Specifically with R.O.I. Line, they had a very good reputation in the industry with sourcing, they have good logistics with how they do their sourcing of products, they have a great network of Chinese suppliers and they have a terrific following with distributors. All of that we want to keep in place. On top of that they have a California operation, which is really important to us to give folks on the West Coast more peace of mind with Prime's presence in that region. The product line that they have, their expertise and the personnel there are all very important parts of why we wanted to do the deal with R.O.I.
With Get It Global, what attracted us to them was an area where we think we can do better with them—customized projects, including packaging. Andrew Brody, who is going to be our vice president of global sourcing from Get It Global, will be focusing on our logistics and ensuring speedier quoting to distributors with our existing legacy overseas business.
Both deals come with offices overseas that will get added to our presence in China already, and it just gives us an even bigger footprint and more services. It will allow the distributor to have more peace of mind when sourcing a product from China and when sourcing a product from Prime Line—product safety is very important to Prime and to the industry, and this represents more opportunity for distributors to have peace of mind as we integrate all of our product quality and compliance into these companies. It is just that much better for the industry because of our huge focus on compliance.
PM: It seems like highly customized product category is going to be a big push in the future and could become an important market for the industry. Would you agree with that?
JL: I think so. I think the key part is product quality and safety, which is important. It's also very competitive out there, so we want to bring China closer to the distributors to save them money, offer turnkey services with quick production times, and to make sourcing more safe. Those are the things that I think will help distributors when working with Prime to get a leg up, make more money, service more customers and have more peace of mind when doing these larger orders that are produced overseas.
PM: How will R.O.I. Line play into that?
JL: What's important to us is the boutique nature of Source Abroad. Some distributors, when working with larger suppliers, have a perception that their order won't get the same attention or focus. At Prime we have an area that already focuses on overseas projects, and the addition of Source Abroad as our own boutique agency that focuses on it 100 percent of time will be a nice complement to what we're doing. It gives distributors a higher peace of mind when sourcing a project, because it's now associated with a top company like Prime, and all the services and reliability and quality that come along with that. Distributors can now have all that with this boutique company that now is solely focused on that endeavor.
PM: Tell me more about Get It Global. It looks like they do custom concept-to-creation items.
JL: Yes, exactly. Very customized projects. They can get lots of traditional items overseas, but working very closely with distributors on very tight delivery times, on very customized projects that are more complex that require lots of coordination, that is their expertise. Operationally and from an efficiency standpoint that is one of the key areas that will help all of us. You can never have too much focus on operational efficiency. This will just make us even better. Get It Global is going to be 100 percent fully integrated into Prime Line. R.O.I. Line is going to remain in California, and will keep a focus there. We're thrilled about having them as part of the Prime family and have it extended further onto the West Coast.
PM: So it will give distributors that personal, hands-on experience.
JL: That's the key thing. We want them to have the experience of a smaller, more intimate company, but with the full breadth of services of Prime behind it. They will still get the hands-on treatment when working on these large projects overseas.
PM: Will Get It Global relocate to the Connecticut offices?
JL: That is correct.
PM: You mentioned the importance of product safety earlier. Prime Line has been one of the biggest proponents of safety and compliance in the industry and was one of the founding suppliers in the Quality Certification Alliance. Will those standards apply to the new lines?
JL: That will come with time because we have to make sure that it all complies with our processes and QCA as related to ROI. With Get It Global that will happen immediately because it is being integrated into Prime.
PM: This is a big first step into the new year. What's your outlook for 2014, and what are Prime's plans for the year?
JL: We have different areas we want to continue to focus on. We want to continue to work closely with our distributors and continue to offer a higher level of service. We have significantly invested in infrastructure at our Connecticut headquarters. We've also invested significantly in inventory. We've invested nearly a quarter of a million dollars into a new website that will be coming in the first quarter. We've invested in production equipment and facilities and everything needed to service distributors.
We ended the year with the highest level of inventory we've ever had as a company, and we're starting the new year with the highest levels of inventory we've ever had as a company. We feel that if a distributor wants it, when they want it, we want to be able to make it as easy as possible to work with Prime. Every area within Prime, every day and every month, we're making sure that we delivery the best service to them. We know that they need to rely on us to get their orders out without having to worry about it. Set it and forget it, that's the motto.
For more information, visit www.primeline.com.