'Can-do' attitude rules at Monroeville promotion firm

| Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012

More than a year ago, Samsung Corp. wanted 10,000 T-shirts carrying its logo produced and distributed to Los Angeles and Washington — all within 24 hours.

The consumer and industrial products conglomerate turned to Clayton Kendall Inc., a distributor of promotional products and decorated apparel based in Monroeville. The local company quickly found suppliers in L.A. and D.C. that could produce 5,000 Samsung T-shirts in each location, saving precious time.

“We saved a ton in shipping by printing in each local market,” said Dan Broudy, Clayton Kendall's vice president of sales.

While not every job is that demanding, the T-shirt feat explains how the company has been able to grow sales each year since it was founded in 1999, reaching $14 million last year.

The big rush order also speaks to why President Regina Broudy, who founded the company by buying a small contract printing firm in East Pittsburgh, was chosen to receive the Member of the Year award from the National Association of Women Business Owners' Pittsburgh chapter in late September.

“It's always good for other women to hear about another woman's success,” said Broudy, a former medical billings executive.

“I did this for my kids,” she said of son Dan and his brother, Mike Broudy, who is the company's vice president of operations. “We wanted to have a family business.”

She named the company after where son Dan went to college: Washington University in Clayton, Mo., then the University of Miami in Kendall, Ohio.

Clayton Kendall distributes thousands of promotional items with company logos for trade shows and other purposes, and operates Web sites for client company employees to order items, such as pens, apparel and gift ware.

The company draws from “thousands of suppliers” in the United States and abroad, mostly in Asia. But when possible, it tries to use local suppliers, such as Leeds World Inc., New Kensington.

“Clayton Kendall can create the catalog items, and provide the warehousing, management and packaging,” said Steve Gelernter, Leeds' northeast division sales manager.

“Not everybody can do that. They are a complete and comprehensive distributorship,” Gelernter said.

About 85 percent of Clayton Kendall's sales are in the United States, and the balance are to Canada. The company added an Internet domain name in Canada to sell more merchandise online there “because of the tremendous growth potential there,” said Dan Broudy.

While “you have to have good relationships” with Chinese makers of promotional items because of the low-cost factor, said Dan Broudy, they also represent a competitive threat.

“You can go on Google and place a factory-direct order with somebody in China, and that's a scary scenario,” he said.

“But if you want the items in a couple of days, you can't get that from China,” where an item can take up to 90 days from order to delivery, said Regina Broudy.

One of the keys to Clayton Kendall's success is its rushIMPRINT unit, which fulfilled the Samsung order. It launched the business in 2002 to deal specifically with last-minute product promotion orders and turn them around within three days.

“People who order promotional products don't plan in advance because that's not a core part of their business,” said Regina Broudy. “It's more like, ‘Hey, we have a trade show coming up in two days. What are we going to do?'"

“Speed and accuracy in delivery is a very important thing,” said Dan Broudy. “We live in an Amazon.com world.”

Westinghouse Electric Co. employees, for instance, can order a selection of different products — from golf balls to apparel to notebooks — emblazoned with the famous “circle W” Westinghouse logo or even one signifying its AP1000 nuclear reactor. Clayton Kendall distributed nearly $1 million in Westinghouse gear to employees last year.

“You'll never see a Westinghouse logo on a T-shirt. That would be a violation of the licensing agreement,” said Frank Corris, global director of supply chain management for Westinghouse.

“Clayton Kendall has a lot of experience with other company's logos, like Panera Bread,” Corris said. “We liked that they understood that we can't be indiscriminate about what we do with our logo.”

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or tolson@tribweb.com.

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