Jennifer Adams is ready to hit the big-time this year. The lifestyle and design guru already has found big success with her collections of home products through major retailers like Costco, and in 2014 she looks to expand the Jennifer Adams Home brand even further with the debut of several new product lines that capture the essence of her coordinated timeless style. As Adams takes a hands-on approach to developing these products and working closely with the industry-leading partners – including PEM America, Jaipur, Covington, FCP Brands, Fizzion, JLA, Creative Bath and Rich Brands – who bring her ideas to life, she is also aided by the expertise and experience of a dedicated group of top executives and a veteran licensing agency – All American Licensing & Management Group (AALMG) - all helping her build a brand that has experienced a meteoric growth with her fans and consumers. 

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Bolla Management is taking the gas station and convenience store industry by storm with its upscale and customer service-focused locations. The company’s mission is to become the most successful, recognizable and respected C-store chain on the East Coast. 

The Garden City, N.Y.–based company was founded in 1989 by President and CEO Harry Singh, who was committed to providing high-quality products at competitive prices and convenient locations. Bolla Management is comprised of five divisions: Bolla Retail, Bolla Wholesale, Bolla Transport, Bolla Construction and Bolla Real Estate. 

The company acts as a wholesale fuel distributor and operator of gas stations, convenience stores, auto repair shops and car washes. “We continue to put our stakes in the ground all over Long Island, New York City and New Jersey,” Singh says. “As we secure properties and get the projects into the pipeline, we secure our position as a market leader.”

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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.”

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If you’ve ever decried the littering of the world with cigarette butts and despaired of any end to the blight, TerraCycle has discovered a use for them if they have filters. “TerraCycle has now launched in five countries programs to collect and recycle cigarette butts [filters],” announces Albe Zakes, global vice president of communications. “They are the No. 1 most-littered item in the world. We’re the first company to offer global solutions to collect and recycle cigarette butts.”

What possible reuse could there be in smelly cigarette butts? They are made from cellulose acetate, which is a fire-retardant plastic. “Because it is resistant to fire, it is an ideal additive to new plastic decking and lumber,” Zakes notes. “We have partnered with the second-largest plastic decking manufacturer, TimberTek. We are now producing millions of pounds of recycled plastic lumber and decking that has the cellulose acetate as an additive. It’s actually providing a trait that will make a superior product. Now an environmental improvement isn’t coming at the cost of efficiency but is in fact increasing the efficiency.”

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While designers flood the saturated albeit profitable women’s clothing market, Oved Apparel is proving that there is great success to be had in the menswear market. In 1981, brothers Isaac, David, Ronnie and Mike Oved created an original line of four men’s shirts. The enterprising group went door to door to specialty stores in the New York City area. 

David Oved says in the beginning it was a hand-to-mouth business, but as Oved Apparel began to gain traction, it developed new in-house brands and became a licensee for existing brands. Eight years ago it brought children’s wear into the portfolio with the help of kidswear expert Albert Pardo. Two years ago they took on the license for Ecko Cut & Sew and RocaWear and started a big and tall division. Now, 32 years later, the brothers run a successful men’s, children’s and big and tall apparel company representing 14 lines with a 50/50 split between in-house brands and licensed brands. 

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Stage Stores and its family of fashion retailers, including Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal and Peebles, got their start in the industry guided by the idea that no market is too small to warrant their attention. In recent years, the company has found that there is also no market too big. 

“In our history, we have typically targeted stores that have a population of less than 50,000 within a 10-mile radius,” Executive Vice President of Stores Russ Lundy explains. “These are smaller towns that are underserved by retailers or have maybe one or two other competitors in the market. We’re one of the few retailers able to bring a department store with national brands to towns with our smaller footprints. Our average store size is around 18,000 square feet.” 

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Finding good employees is frequently cited by retailers and restaurateurs as one of their biggest challenges, and PeopleMatter not only helps with that, but also follows up throughout the employment process. The company has software modules accessed in the cloud for hiring, training and managing not just employees, but what President and CEO Nate DaPore calls “talent.”

“We’re the only talent management company that provides a full talent management suite with a schedule embedded into it,” DaPore maintains. “There are other companies out there that do pieces of what we do, but there is not a company that does all the entire end-to-end suite with scheduling embedded into the applications.”

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Omega Sports’ approach to overcoming the challenge of national, big-box retailers in its markets is simple. “Our philosophy is that our company exists because the community allows us to exist,” says Thom Rock, co-owner of the Greensboro, N.C.-based retailer. “We’re very customer-centric: As long as we listen to the desires of our customers, we’ll be just fine.”

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