In 1953, Michael Emoff’s grandparents started a promotional products distributor, Shumsky Enterprises, in Dayton, OH. His mother worked there too, and in the 1980s she expanded the business model to a “value added partner” helping clients develop marketing plans around branded promotional products.
Today, Michael Emoff is the CEO, overseeing 60 employees and four divisions: Shumsky Promotional, Outta-the-Box Promotions, Boost Technologies and Therapeutic Pillows.
“The promotional products process is becoming less about ‘grab and go’ and more integral to companies’ brand and marketing strategies,” Emoff says.
For clients who like to run things themselves, Shumsky’s e-store, Nova, operates on a drop-ship or decentralized model. Suppliers “brand on demand” the day of the order and ship the next day, providing profitability even for small orders. As a way for marketers to expand the reach of those products, QR codes are more often embedded on the products to measure “scans” by consumers using smartphones. Tech tools and accessories like iPod and iPad covers are the hottest premium items.
Outta-the-Box Promotions is a name derived from the patented coupon and information dispensing system Shumsky designed. Bacardi, for instance, used it to dispense non-alcoholic taste strips to introduce a new flavor. Boost Technologies is a web-based platform for rewarding and tracking employee performance, branded for each client. In May, that division, which is run by Emoff’s wife, Anita, was named one of the top-50 fastest growing women-led businesses by Women Presidents Organization. Therapeutic Pillows markets a line of patented pillows to about 850 hospitals and healthcare providers who brand the items with local sponsor logos and give them to patients in surgery recovery.
To keep a tight rein on costs, last year an operations manager was brought in to establish processes across the organization, which resulted in improvements in sales prioritization and higher profit margins in some areas. Last November, top-heavy upper management was reduced and middle managers were empowered with more decision-making ability.
“If you’re not being a value-added distributor, then you’re only competing on price,” Emoff says. “To be sitting with the client when they are doing their planning brings great value. I want to be that guy — the guy who’s giving you strategic direction, not just taking orders.”