Dan Broudy, CEO of Clayton Kendall, has a system for every aspect of this family-owned business located in Monroeville PA. In fact, those systems hold the key to how a small startup can grow from six employees in 1999 to an award winning business of 120 employees offering comprehensive branded merchandising programs for multi-location companies around the world.
Dan recalls that his mother and founder, Regina Broudy, happened to be sitting next to a franchise owner at an event. This franchisee was part of one of the largest franchise operations for that industry. Regina was able to provide uniforms, apparel and promotional products and soon the owner asked “What else can you do for us?” Clayton Kendall began providing business cards, paper, menus and signage. Recalls Dan, “The first online store represented a program we created for that client. We realized that there may be other franchisees at other locations that had the same pain points as the original client. We started reaching out to other franchise communities.”
Having found a solution that worked, Clayton Kendall expanded the system beyond franchises to other multi-location companies. Corporate entities like Dicks Sporting Goods and Westinghouse were soon clients. “We brought on more and more of these multi-location companies and used technology as the organizing principle for their branded merchandise purchasing. That way they would have access to purchasing patterns and understand what their community is doing, while giving them true brand consistency.” says Dan.
Many years ago Clayton Kendall brought their technology in house and continues to evolve it. With web developers on the payroll, the technology developed belongs to Clayton Kendall. Dan explains, “We continue to customize and improve upon it each year. Frankly customers really appreciate that and it has been one of our great selling points. We are a technology company that sells product. We always knew the internet would play a part and it has worked out.”
While uniforms remain an important part of the Clayton Kendall’s product mix, there is much more that the company offers. Dan says “We go into a company, meet with them and discover what they need. We recently acquired a client that was using 15 different vendors for branded materials—uniforms, promotional products, paper spend and signage. They had to use 15 different websites, know which sites carry which products and order on different platforms. Not to mention there was no concentration of spend and volume so their pricing was terrible. Printing was inconsistent. We brought order to chaos. We gave them structure. Franchise owners get into a business because they want to buy into a system. We are an extension of that system and simplify the process they use to manage branded merchandise.”
Clayton Kendall needs reliable suppliers to provide those products and not every supplier makes the cut. Dan states “We really run them through the ringer to see if they will be a good fit with our system. We could not do what we do without our suppliers. That’s a fact.”
Dan’s merchandise team is constantly looking for new products for Clayton Kendall clients. “ In the realm of Branded merchandise anything can be utilized as a canvas of expression. It doesn’t matter if it’s cotton fabric, paper or a promotional product–anything that can be printed upon. We want to be the single source for everything to make our customers’ lives easier.” says Dan
Much of the printing is done in house: embroidery, screen printing, hot stamping, laser engraving and offset digital printing. Dan adds, “We still have partners in other parts of the country and depending on where the customer is and how fast they need it to be done, we will use them. We do a lot in house but if you are looking at a BIC pen, for example, nobody does it better than BIC and we have them do it.”
The merchandise team is just part of the staff Clayton Kendall depends on daily. Finding employees that can thrive in a fast-paced environment has been difficult but worthwhile. “We get most of our employees through referral from suppliers, customers and employees. We find that people who are smart, talented and have a good work ethic usually hang out with people like themselves. It makes a big difference when you surround yourself with very talented people. You’re able to grow and expand your capabilities . Some of our people come with vast experience that really helps us optimize our systems.”
Referrals also play a part in customer acquisition. Dan explains “If I am really good to the customers, they refer prospects to me. We do search engine optimization and pay per click but every one of our best customers has come from referrals. It’s not that we aren’t making calls and trying to grow, but there is no better way to grow than treating people right. Then we ask them if they know of anyone else we can help. Another department in their own organization? Do they have a friend at a different company? You will be surprised how much someone will do for you just by asking.”
Working Within The System
System optimization is critical and Dan has key performance indicators for every department. Dan adds, “We ask ourselves ‘Are we improving? Are we getting better? Are we faster? Is the experience better for the customer? How long did they have to wait to get a call back?’ We take a lot of pride in that. We want to make our customers happy.”
Dan continues, “An order resolution process is critical. No vendor is perfect. Even with our systems there will be human error sometimes, whether it happens in house or with a shipper. Things happen. But how quickly we resolve the issue is important. Since the order resolution process was put into effect several years ago it has evolved. “The system guides the customer through the process by asking questions. In addition to resolving the customers’ issues it also helps us to find out if there are problems with our products and our suppliers. This enable us to track and monitor.” Dan explains.
Running a fast-paced business takes a great deal of Dan’s time which is why he cherishes every spare moment with his wife and nine-year-old son. All the members of our family-run business appreciate being together on the clock and after hours. “We all enjoy what we are doing. We love working together. Our families have dinner together every Sunday. I would love to be doing this for years and have my son come work in the business if that’s something he would like to do.”