Tourists flock to Florida throughout the year to enjoy its frequent sunny days, beautiful sandy beaches and diverse offerings of fun outdoor activities. The same environment that puts golden tans on tourists’ skins and smiles on their faces is also one that inspired an entrepreneur to develop a line of candy that everyone can enjoy. Fueled by its success and recognition throughout the Sunshine State, Anastasia Confections Inc. is taking its tasty treats nationally with great success.
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To many toy companies, their products are simply a diversion, something to keep kids occupied. For MindWare, however, the toys it creates and distributes do more than simply pass the time. MindWare’s line of educational toys help kids increase their brainpower and bring the entire family together. “That’s really what we’re all about,” General Manager Jonathan Staruck says. “We are brainy toys for kids of all ages.”
The Minnesota-based company has been fulfilling this mission since 1990, when founder Jeannie Voigt opened a small retail store in Minneapolis devoted to selling educational toys. Over time, MindWare has evolved into one of the largest catalog retailers in that segment. The company also has developed a robust line of its own proprietary products, which are distributed to more than 2,000 retailers across the country as well as through its catalogs and Internet sales.
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With so many print procurement management companies in existence, the brain trust behind LogicSource quickly realized it would have to do something drastically different to stand out in the marketplace. President and CEO David Pennino says his company accomplished this by 1) offering a flexible approach to client engagement including offerings in co-sourcing, advisory services and technology; 2) expanding the categories of procurement they could address to include packaging and in-store operational items; and 3) performing an exhaustive analyses of potential customers’ operations on its own dime, a far cry from the standard practice of having clients pay for this service up-front.
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The Source has been part of Canadian’s consumer electronics life for the past 40 years, with several changes in name and ownership during that time. But the retail stores – which once flew the Radio Shack and Circuit City banners – have been given a new life with new and renovated stores, the introduction of recognizable electronics brands, client-focused employee training and a multifaceted marketing campaign since Bell Canada Enterprises bought The Source in 2009.
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Whether it is fielding calls with a live person or buying keywords to top the list of search engine hits for health supplements, Swanson Health Products does everything it can to reach out to and meet the demands of its customers. Director of E-commerce Rachel Rice says this extends from the top of the organization on down.
“As a leadership team, we are always asking ourselves what customers want and expect from us,” Rice says. “Every member of the board is responsible for reading customer comments every week. We focus on the quality of our product and adherence to being the low-price leader – we’ve definitely heard that’s what our customers want.”
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In east-central Louisiana, it takes a local to know how well-traveled the back roads are as they are developed into wider highways. And the more traffic there is, the more business comes. “Most of the metro markets are mature and have all the big-name competitors,” says Todd St. Romain, CEO of St. Romain Oil Co. “We find better opportunity in small, under-developed rural markets.”
His c-stores offer more than just convenience. “I think in an underdeveloped rural market, you can be the liquor store, the cigarette shop, the McDonald’s, the KFC,” he says. “I can be the mini-grocery and the gas station all at one time. In a smaller, underdeveloped market, we can fill the needs of the consumer and be a multitude of stores in one. Our proprietary food service is probably what really attracts people. We have a strong food service offer.”
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Among the reasons for Staples Canada’s success is its non-hierarchical structure. Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, relates that if he arrives at the company’s headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario, late in the morning, he parks at the back of the lot and walks, just like every other employee.
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You don’t need a sweet tooth to recognize Duff Goldman. As the owner and proprietor of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Goldman and his staff spent 10 seasons as the focus of Food Network’s breakout hit reality show, “Ace of Cakes.” Duff Goldman and Charm City Cakes became famous for their wildly imaginative cake designs. Using methods that often involved blowtorches and power tools, Goldman created cakes in such shapes as Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes, Hogwarts Castle for the premiere of one of the “Harry Potter” films and even the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA.
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