Tuesday, June 16, 2020

What's Your Perfect Product? | Neil & Karen Gwartzman, Private Label University

Neil & Karen Gwartzman, owners of Private Label University
In 1983, Neil Gwartzman dove into the private labeling industry when he joined his father’s brick-and-mortar manufacturing and importing company. After learning the business from the ground up, he committed himself to distill everything he and his father knew into a step-by-step system that could be used to easily and consistently identify, source and private label products for any company in any industry.

Private labeling -- also called “white labeling” or “product branding” -- involves finding an existing physical product that your clients are shopping for and then putting your brand on it. Some high-profile examples include Rachel Ray, George Foreman and Martha Stewart, who have leveraged private label products to build their brands and make extra millions.

Neil taught the system to Karen in 2004, when she was a dental hygienist looking for ways to make extra money. Revenue from her new private label business quickly eclipsed her salary, making it an easy decision to quit the dental industry. She joined Neil in his mission to help entrepreneurs and business owners leverage private label products to scale their companies and increase brand recognition. This is when Private Label University was born.

“What products do is complement and bring loyalty to those customers to keep coming back into their business. It also can act as an accessory to help the client move to the next level,” Karen said. “It's bringing in an extra revenue stream.” The Gwartzmans provide direction in determining what the perfect product is for a business. The idea is to build a brand that is cohesive with business and complement it with a product.

One of the most challenging things for service-based businesses is to stand out. The Gwartzmans have found that adding a product to a business can set your business apart. Your clients trust you and they trust products that you recommend, so when you have a private product they can purchase and use on your recommendation it's a win-win.

This isn't a new idea, private labeling products has been happening for decades. Karen and Neil believe their system has simplified the process so that anyone could do it. “Years ago it was a secret. You were not allowed to share what you were doing,” Karen said. They both felt drawn to share the secrets and help business owners create products on their own. In doing this they have had some blowback in their industry, but they continued to feel drawn to help others. “Why should there be a monopoly of stores or companies that have access to this information? We need to be sharing it,” Karen said.

The Gwartzmans travel to China annually for the Canton Fair and take any students who are interested along with them to learn about the business and experience the products first hand. Since the April fair was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trip is now planned for October. Attending the product fair is not necessary. It can be done remotely, but takes more time. Investments in creating a product can range in cost, but starting small and proving sales is usually the starting point. “Building the relationships correctly with suppliers is important,” Karen said.

Neil knew from a young age that this was the work he wanted to do. He enjoyed seeing products from all over the world and helping the family business. They both recommend learning from mentors as you are looking to follow your passions. “Mentors -- years ago we didn't understand what a mentor was. I should have listened, that mentoring would have gotten me to a faster position to doing what I wanted to do,” Karen said.

When adding a product to an existing business they feel that the risk is low. “We aren't saying give up what you do, just complement it or add to it. Add a revenue source,” Karen said, “You should be able to make money every single day.”


For more information on creating a private label product yourself go to https://privatelabeluniversity.com/.

Fall River Electric holds first virtual annual meeting

Fall River Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting of members was conducted virtually for the first-time ever in the co-op’s 82-year history. This was because of a decision made by the board of directors to safeguard the members and staff from effects of the coronavirus. Owner-members cast their votes via online, mail-in and in-person to select representatives for three board positions from a total of seven candidates. Despite not holding their traditional in-person annual event, a record setting number of 2,427 ballots were cast this year, which represents nearly 20% percent of the total number of eligible voters.

Incumbents Georg Behrens in District 3 (East Victor), Jay Hanson in District 2 (West Victor) and Jeff Keay in District 8 (Northern Island Park) were all re-elected for new three-year terms beginning this month.

Voters overwhelming approved a number of minor changes to the co-op’s bylaws but nearly split evenly on how board members should be elected in the future. The ballot had provided for an advisory vote as to whether to retain the current plurality voting method for directors or put to a member vote next year the option of requiring a candidate to win by a majority of votes. Owner-members voted to retain the current plurality method by a vote of 1,264 versus a switch to the majority method with 1,087 votes.

The traditional business meeting, which included the announcement of over 30 scholarship
awards, a report on the co-op’s financial audit as well as a management report from
CEO/General Manager Bryan Case, was held online and can be viewed on the cooperative’s
website under the heading of Video News on the home page.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Celebration planned for Johnson Bros. owner David Sargis

Johnson Brothers will be hosting a celebration to mark 50 years of leadership under owner David Sargis. The public event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, June 15, at the company's showroom at 233 Basalt Street in downtown Idaho Falls.

During his tenure, Sargis has guided the company through many challenges, including a fire in 2004 that destroyed much of its manufacturing facility in 2004, to expansion into the Treasure Valley, where they recently opened a new, expanded showroom.

"No matter what gets thrown in front of him, David has a way of reading the situation and establishing the best path forward," said company co-owner Chris Sargis. "His steady hand has
definitely benefitted the business over the long-term."

Founded in 1905, Johnson Brothers provides builders and homeowners with architectural casework, windows, doors, and quality millwork. For homes and businesses alike, it is known throughout the Intermountain West as a go-to establishment for custom-made details. David Sargis has been at the helm since 1970, nearly half of the company's 115-year history.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Home sales remain steady in Bonneville County

The numbers haven't been posted yet for May, but looking at sales statistics from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service for the first four months of this year shows clearly that the COVID-19 pandemic has had no effect on the market for residential properties in Bonneville County.

The number of units sold was up 3.7%, while the number of new listings rose 7.3%. Homes spent an average of 45 days on the market, the same as in 2019. Median price rose 11.7%, from $204,237 to $228,234.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Coffee and Business | Chip Langerak, Villa Coffeehouse

Chip Langerak
Becoming a business broker wasn't what Chip Langerak saw himself doing, but joining Arthur Berry & Co. four years ago allowed him the opportunity to help business owners sell their businesses and move into retirement. “Building the package, marketing the business, fielding the questions, pitching it to people, that's my specialty,” he explained.

In looking at what the coronavirus pandemic has done to businesses who are ready to sell Langerak says we have to see what happens going forward. “It won't have a huge impact on business evaluation unless it effects your business beyond now. Some businesses have been propped up by a vibrant economy.”

Langerak and his wife, Alexis, own The Villa Coffeehouse in downtown Idaho Falls (with another location in the lobby of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center) and have been directly impacted by the pandemic. “We will survive. It may put us behind but we'll survive,” he said

When advising business owners who are looking to sell he suggests that at least three years prior the business owner should be thinking about the sale and what needs to be put in order to get the highest valuation. “The financials of a business are that business' curb appeal,” he said. About half the buyers he encounters are coming here from out of state. They are looking at financials, which means a business owner needs the financials to look as good as possible.

Asked what the number one mistake business owners make, he said, “I see not enough detail in financial reporting.”

The Langeraks have owned The Villa for eight years. Chip describes his wife as “the perfect operator” and attributes any success of The Villa to her.

“What drew us to The Villa was a love for the place. Ultimately we asked ourselves the question of is this something we could do for several years, and we knew it was,” he said. So many in the restaurant industry are focused on turning around tables but at The Villa they are happy to provide a space for people to spend time and feel comfortable. “It's built around the idea of community, and that's the part that's rewarding and we love about being here,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a dramatic decrease in sales. “The advice I would give to anyone in this position right now is adapt and adapt quickly and consider that change to be permanent,” he said. One of the adaptations they have implemented is a delivery service to Idaho Falls and Ammon.

Langerak admits to feelings of self-doubt, and thinks it's a common thing with business owners. “I think some of that comes from making entrepreneurship sound sexy,” he said. “We have to shift that thinking. We have to realize that those that are successful are closer to us that we realize. We are closer to that success than we know.”

A couple of thoughts he has for all business owners is to be thinking about their businesses and how they will transition no matter where they are. Start that process earlier than you need to. The second thing is to ignore the naysayers but don't let anyone talk you out of something that will bring you joy.

For more information on Arthur Berry and Co go to their site https://www.arthurberry.com/.
For more information on The Villa Coffeehouse visit their site at http://villacoffeeandcafe.com/. Remember, free delivery on orders over $10.