Solberg1In the 2008 economic downturn, T.A. Solberg Co. faced a decision about its future. How would it weather an economic storm in the midst of markets that were becoming overly saturated with stores that sold groceries? The answer was simple: diversify.

T.A. Solberg is now a company with a broad spectrum of formats, including seven grocery stores, five gasoline stations with convenience stores, one gasoline station, a smokehouse, an events resort, a hardware store, salon, trucking company, central bakery and two recycling centers.

Sunrise1The printing business has changed dramatically since Jimmy Sun founded Sunrise Digital in 1988. Rather than let these changes overwhelm the business, Sunrise evolves to respond to technology and retail trends.

“I think we’re very innovative at adopting to change,” Sun says. “Instead of just hanging on to what we’re doing, we change with our customer and develop solutions to satisfy their demands.”

The Chicago-based company began as a neighborhood printer producing business cards and letterheads, changing gears in the early 1990s to become a pre-press company after the introduction of desktop publishing software. The late 1990s found the company making a full transition into digital printing. Sunrise Digital today offers a number of services including indigo printing, CNC cutting, digital color envelopes and direct mail fulfillment.

Silverlit1The toy industry is always looking for cutting-edge technology, but applying the technology successfully can be the challenge. This has not stopped Silverlit Toys from utilizing the latest technology in its products, Vice President of Marketing in the United States Rick Ruskin says. “[We] take technology that’s already out there in the higher-end markets and take it to the toy-grade level,” he says.

Based in Hong Kong, Silverlit manufactures toys, including radio controlled (R/C) cars and helicopters for children around the world. Ruskin explains that the company began in 1977 as an OEM manufacturer in the toy industry, but eventually moved into making its own products.

Pacificcycle1The Schwinn and Mongoose brand-names typically evoke thoughts of bicycles – a natural reaction, considering they are two of the most recognizable names in the two-wheel realm.

The company behind both brands hopes to take these names beyond their traditional realm on the road and into the home. “The biggest thing we are looking at is how to expand our brands’ footprint and take them into new categories where they make sense,” says Danna Dueck, licensing manager for Pacific Cycle Inc. “We want people to have a positive association with our brands long-term and bring them into other areas of their life year-round.”

Nationwide1When people buy glasses or visit a doctor for eyecare, they want to go to someone they can trust their eyes with.

Nationwide Vision strives to be that trusted care provider. Based in Chandler, Ariz., the company’s 64 locations in its home state specialize in comprehensive eye and medical exams, large selections of designer eye glasses, all major brands of contact lenses and surgical procedures, including Lasik, Intraocular contact lenses, Clear lens exchange and Cataract procedures.

Dr. Neal Weinstein and Dr. Mark Hechtman founded the company in 1985, and today, it remains solely owned by the doctors. Additionally, Nationwide Vision is Arizona’s largest optical retailer and the 15th-largest optical retail chain in the United States. In the next three years, the company plans to open 15 new Arizona locations.

Hain1For natural and specialty food stores, as well as traditional supermarkets and foodservice operators, Hain Pure Protein Corp. (Hain PPC) has become a partner of choice. The company’s full range of premium all-natural, antibiotic-free and organic poultry products are well known as some of the top-quality protein on the market today.

“We are pioneers in this business and follow an EarthWise approach that gives our products and brands more appeal to customers looking for top-quality products,” COO and CFO Jay Lieberman says. Hain PPC is known for antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed poultry products that have been humanely raised.

Ebags1Online retailers spend thousands and even millions of dollars on market research to determine where to dedicate resources.

But all eBags.com co-founder and Executive Vice President Peter Cobb has to do is consult with his three children, who are 17, 19 and 20 years old and  and conduct just about all of their shopping through their computers or mobile devices.

Conns1After the economy soured in 2008, Conn’s examined which of its locations – currently numbering 65 in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma – did well during the downturn selling the company’s mix of appliances, consumer electronics, furniture, mattresses, lawn equipment and computers. Conn’s found that the stores with a concentration of its core customers – those with credit scores from 525 to 650 – did better.

“The most unique thing that we do – our key differentiator in our business model – is our consumer finance program,” COO Mike Poppe emphasizes. “Credit scores from 650 down to 525 are our core customer – that is the sweet spot we play in. These customers have limited access to other credit; they generally are good payers and good stewards of the credit that they do borrow, and are typically going to be blue-collar, working-class, lower or fixed-income individuals.”

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