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Harold Roitenberg: Modern Merchandising

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism, Harold Roitenberg started his business career working in the advertising department of Northwestern Auto Parts in Minneapolis.

He found the job boring, so he left and joined Minnesota Wholesalers, which his father-in-law owned. He stayed there for 10 years. When he joined the business, the product line was focused on horse supplies and related hardware. Due to his initiatives, when he left it 10 years later in 1960, the business was a thriving catalog showroom selling name-brand small appliances, housewares, electronics, and jewelry.

When his father-in-law died, his brother would not sell Roitenberg an equal share in the business, so Roitenberg decided to go his own separate way. Since he had little money, he could not open his own showroom. Instead he used his expertise and experience to found Creative Merchandising & Publishing.

Creative M&P merchandised and published a catalog to be used by businesses wanting to get into the catalog-showroom business. He earned money through the sale of catalogs to these businesses.

Creative M&P negotiated prices, ad allowances, terms, etc. A small merchant could buy like a giant through the volume produced by joining together.

The Creative group grew into the largest catalog-showroom merchandisers in the world, with combined sales over 6 billion dollars.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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