The world of retail has changed significantly since IDL Worldwide started offering merchandising and graphics services in 1943. Brands have come and gone, and effective retailing and merchandising today requires much more than just a well-placed sign or retail rack. The Pittsburgh-based company’s core strength, however, has remained constant over the years.
“We’re successful because of our people,” says Dave Ball, president, brand centers Americas for Matthews Brand Solutions, IDL’s corporate parent. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes, but all the way to today it’s been the passion that our people bring to their jobs every day that separates us from our competitors.”
The passion IDL’s employees have for their work is evidenced by the number of long-tenured staff members in the company. “We have a core group who have been here for quite some time,” Ball says. “We’re a bit rare in that people come here and find in us a long-term home.”
Ball credits the company’s knack for staff retention to its teamwork-driven culture. “We have an open, collaborative environment here that creates a never-say-never and can’t-lose attitude toward our projects,” he says. “I think we embrace change and the different strengths people bring to the table. We believe in getting up every day, being passionate about what we do, putting in a hard day of work and looking forward to the next.”
IDL attracts many of its staff members the same way as it does clients – through positive word of mouth. “We’ve built a reputation and an environment where our people can tell others that they want to work here,” Ball adds.
The company also networks with professionals in related industries seeking new career opportunities. “We are always looking for aggressive people who want to go to the next level and are adaptable to change,” he says. “We want people who can come in, light up a room and have other people want to be around them.”
A Passion for Retail
IDL’s staff members apply their knowledge and passion for their jobs to one goal: helping the world’s top brands make an impact on store shelves. The company provides in-store merchandising and retail graphics consulting, design, engineering, logistics and installation expertise to clients including Nike, Luxottica and Starbucks.
“Design and project management are the two core tenets that we really hang our hat on,” Ball says. “We believe in really digging into our clients’ business, caring about them and knowing what makes them tick.”
The company has knowledge of practically all retail sectors. “Having an extraordinarily diverse set of clients allows us to bring a fresh perspective,” Senior Vice President of Client Services Pete Beck notes. “We’re not only involved in all industries, we’re involved in a very deep way, and that brings a lot of value to our clients.”
Recent examples of the company’s work include partnering with Sanuk Footwear to create the brand’s first-ever flagship store in Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade shopping center. The 1,226-square-foot store opened in 2013.
“The store experience explores retail and marketing possibilities with a fresh and original creative concept,” IDL Worldwide says. “The store’s garage-inspired theme evokes a space to play and have fun, crafted to represent a place of departure, a place of homecoming and everywhere in between – a space that you go to escape, to make a mess and make noise.”
Every aspect of the store reflects the Sanuk brand, including floor fixtures, its lounge area and its freestanding stud walls. One unique store feature is a wall fixture that allows shoppers to open drawers and find their desired size, providing a full-service experience that maintains the garage aesthetic, the company says.
IDL also recently teamed with Sunglass Hut to launch SHADED, a new retail brand and environment intended to connect with millennials. “To bring this new kiosk format to life, Sunglass Hut looked to IDL to manage the design, development and execution from start to finish,” the company says. “IDL’s design teams were involved in the entire process, from the initial client meeting all the way to the recent installations of four new retail environments in the New York City and Columbus, Ohio, markets.”
The SHADED brand, which features non-traditional Luxottica brands and messaging, has plans to expand to 10 additional locations in 2014. “Positive feedback and expressed gratitude have been a testament to the success of our process and exceptional service throughout the project,” IDL adds.
Doug Incorvati, senior director of outlets, travel retail and emerging business for Luxottica, said his experience with IDL surpassed all his other past relationships in retail. "What I'm most impressed with is the commitment and sense of urgency (IDL's) team demonstrated throughout this project," he added. "From their leadership to their build team in East Butler, Penn., it's obvious that everyone shares a common trait – pride and passion."
Other recent IDL projects include launching the Crayola Retail Store within The Crayola Experience in Easton, Penn.; and designing and executing a retail space for Nickelodeon in Times Square,.
IDL works closely with clients to understand their products and what they hope to achieve through a new merchandising program, then provides graphics, printing, packaging and display services. The company operates brand centers in Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore., where clients can see many of IDL’s solutions in action.
“We create products and services that allow companies to connect with their consumers in a physical space,” Ball says. “These centers are where we bring our clients and services together.”
The company also operates production facilities that give it in-house printing and display-making capabilities. IDL will often look to use alternative materials in its displays to meet a client or retailer’s sustainability targets.
IDL’s in-house production capabilities allow it to dial up or dial down campaigns based on the physical capacities of each retailer that carries the brands the company represents. “Our biggest challenge isn’t our alignment with the brand, but with the agreements it has with various retailers,” Beck says. “We go to each retailer with a sense of empathy for their needs, and give them evidence that we researched their end-caps and merchandising needs and can support why we’re recommending a particular display program.”
IDL is enhancing its production and other capabilities through company-wide lean initiatives. “We want to match our customers’ need for speed to market by looking at the things we do that are truly valuable to our customers, identifying things that may be antiquated, and finding new ways to do them,” Ball says. “We are becoming a more nimble organization.”
The company draws on the resources of its parent organization to improve its operations. “Matthews Brand Solutions gives us an advantage when it comes to sustainability and other aspects of our operations,” he adds. “Although we act as an independent company within our marketplace and in the way we approach our clients, we have the advantage of being part of a very large global company which can offer us resources.”
Matthews Brand Solutions offers packaging, merchandising and fulfillment solutions to customers in North America, Asia and Europe through IDL and its international sister companies. “We offer brand consistency around the world,” the company says.