Admanco Acquired by Ebsco, Bumby Stays on Board

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Ebsco, the parent of Vitronic/Four Seasons, a promotional product supplier has purchased beleaguered cloth promotional products supplier Admanco, Inc.

Admanco had been seeking a buyer since it announced early last month that it was in receivership and had let go 150 of its 180 employees. The company encountered tough times when it did not act quickly enough to outsource manufacturing to bring down its prices to maintain a competitive advantage.

Admanco will continue to operate from its offices in Ripon, WI, with about 40 employees where customer service, sales support, product development and some purchasing will take place. All manufacturing will be done at a Vitronics plant in Missouri. Admanco had let go its manufacturing staff of about 100 employees prior to the sale.

Lori Kates, the general manager of Vitronic/Four Seasons has been named general manager of both firms. Cris Bumby, the president of Admanco and the great-grandson of one of the founders of the 83-year-old company, said he would remain on board to head import sourcing of products for Admanco and eventually for Vitronic/Four Seasons. He will also head corporate sales. Admanco will retain its company name and become a division of Ebsco.

Brad Langton, the VP-sales and marketing for Admanco, has been named director of marketing and new product development for both companies.

Bumby said that the acquisition is a positive move for the company, which had been whittled down to about 30 employees last month from about 280 in its heyday. He said the acquisition gives the company the resources it had lacked to continue its turnaround effort.

“We are going to continue to introduce new product, expand our line on the import side and continue to be a leader in the bag category,” Bumby said yesterday.

He also said that it was a sorrowful time for the 83-year-old Admanco.

“It’s obviously a very sad day for myself and the family, especially under the circumstances” Bumby said. “It’s been a part of me and a part of the family for a very long time.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

On Jan. 3, the Ripon, WI-based company announced that it was in receivership. Some 30 employees remained on board to process orders or contract orders out to competitors in an effort to satisfy distributors’ orders.

Langton said last month at the PPAI Expo that the landscape had become “extremely” competitive. He added that Sept. 11 hurt the company as well, as companies cut back on spending. The company began laying off staff last year in several rounds as the outsourcing efforts moved forward.

As the centerpiece of its turnaround effort, the company has overhauled and broadened its line to move beyond the line of cloth tote bags it had built its business on. The new line includes imprinted duffle bags, backpacks, coolers, aprons, towels and totes in a variety of trendy fabrics and colors. A new 78-page catalog carries the tag line “Incredible Promotional Products is our Business. What you do with them is yours,” along with some fun and punchy images to support the theme.

Langton said the company began sourcing overseas in a small way six years ago, but only last year began to aggressively outsource. Now, 75% of the line is imported, versus 25% domestic.

Ebsco, founded in 1944, is a $1.5 billion company based in Birmingham, AL. It is a diversified company involved in more than 20 businesses. It has 4,900 employees, 2,000 in manufacturing operations and 600 outside the U.S. The company purchased promotional products supplier Four Seasons in 1983.

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