Demets1Although not ordinarily associated with speed, the rapidity at which DeMet’s candies and snacks – including its signature chocolate-covered “Turtles” – disappear off retailers’ shelves would cause any hare to pause before relaxing, even if he were used to racing the proverbial tortoise.

The popularity of DeMet’s Candy Co.’s Turtles, Flipz candy-coated pretzels, Treasures filled chocolates and TrueNorth nut snacks enable the company to grow rapidly. Vice Chairman Peter Wilson attributes DeMet’s success to the flexible approach it can take with retailers through its brokers and distributors. “Together with retailers we try to collaborate to become successful instead of simply telling them what they should do with their shelf space,” Wilson says.

Varvatos1With the second season of his hit show “Fashion Star” having just premiered, celebrity mentor and international fashion icon John Varvatos is spreading his brand to licensed products throughout the world. When he was starting out, there weren’t reality shows handing out design contracts, so his rise to stardom took a more conventional route.

Varvatos joined Polo Ralph Lauren in 1983 and was recruited to Calvin Klein in 1990, where he was appointed head of menswear design and oversaw the launch of the men’s collection and the ck brand. In 1995, Varvatos returned to Polo as head of menswear design for all Polo Ralph Lauren brands and created the highly successful Polo Jeans Co.

Winfun1Some start-up companies begin operations without the backing of a parent company, but for WINFUNUSA, the situation is much different. Vice President of Operations Tom Salzmann explains that the firm is a branch of Winfat Industrial Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-based toy firm.

“Our goal in establishing this company in the United States is to develop [Winfat’s] WINFUN brand,” he says, noting that Winfat sells products worldwide and has many private-label programs. “We’re at a stage where we want to develop additional products under our own brand name.”

Thesource1The 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.

Swanson1Whether 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.”

StRomain1In 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.”

Probiotix1People want to eat right, but more often, they want to eat what tastes good. Products that give them the right nutrition – such as the probiotics and prebiotics that aid good digestion and strengthen the immune system – may have the healthy ingredients and functionality nutritionists advocate. But to be consumed regularly, they also have to be something that people not only feel they should eat, but also crave.

“All my products have to pass my test,” insists Gerry Morrison, owner of Wasatch Branding Concepts LLC, which is developing Active D’Lites chocolate bars, individually wrapped bites, ice cream bars and shakes containing probiotics and prebiotics. “I have to make sure these are something that I want to eat. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for a lot of people.”

Micros1Nowadays, consumers who purchase pro­ducts from mobile devices or on the Web often want their purchases shipp­ed to them, plan to pick it up the same day at the store, or they might just be checking the availability of their product at a competitor’s location. It is MICROS-Retail’s challenge to provide the integrated software and hardware systems that function seamlessly behind the scenes.

“Tourneau is the flagship for us,” says Jane Cannon, chief technology officer for the retail division of MICROS Systems Inc. “They represent a retailer who has really brought it together, somebody who’s created an experience on the Web.”

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