A Resilient Group of Experts
A Unique Service Not Available at Retail
Say your organization needs two dozen sunglasses to give out at an annual incentive trip, or you are looking for a creative gift for a fund-raiser, conference, or other event being attended by two dozen or more. Where would you go to find the right items and brands to select based on the demographics of the audience? Who would you seek to help ensure the items will be delivered when needed or drop-shipped to individuals with a personal note? Who will take the time to answer your email or phone calls to make sure your needs are met? Amazon? Target? Walmart?
Incentive representatives provide a service available almost nowhere else. They act as the sales arm for leading brands seeking to take advantage of the corporate marketplace for brands while minimizing internal sales and staff requirements. It is their job to know the particularity of the brands and their products and stories and to represent them to almost any other business marketplace other than retail.
To catch up with Tom Edgette (top photo), son of the founder of the Hoffman & Edgette manufacturers rep firm founded in 1972, where Edgette went to work after college, is to understand how the incentive representative business has survived enormous marketplace change and why it’s a business with significant upside opportunities if it wishes to or can make itself better known to American businesses. It’s trade organization, IMRA (Incentive Manufacturers Representatives Association, a Special Interest Group of the Incentive Marketing Association) has recently launched an effort to bring more visibility to incentive representatives. See RRN: IMRA Launches Campaign to Spotlight Reps.
Edgette’s firm represents over 30 name-brand lines with several dozen active customers of which about half are incentive and recognition companies, and the other half mostly promotional distributors active in the market and suppliers of casino programs. These companies come to Hoffman & Edgette on a regular basis for ideas and presentations for brands, items, price quotes and specifications his team rapidly accesses and selects by using the incentive representative industry’s Replink product database platform. While the company does business with an increasing number of promotional distributors, a smaller percentage of them are active customers truly focused on brands, he observes.
How has the business changed since his father ran the business back in the 1980s? “When I started in 1982, we had 12 lines and 100 active customers. That was the hey-day of the incentive business when there were still bank premium and consumer trading stamp programs.”
In terms of pricing, Edgette says the corporate channel is almost always competitive with even the most aggressive retail pricing when programs are planned in advance through the IRR trade, whose services also include expertise on brand selection, stories, and extensive hand-holding, starting with the initial product selection process that Hoffman & Edgette prides itself in turning around usually within a day for most of its active customers.
The Hoffman & Edgette name is a storied brand in the IRR field. “Back in 1955, my father answered a help wanted ad in a New York City paper for a sales rep position. He ended up becoming a retail housewares salesperson. The company morphed into Hoffman & Edgette in 1972 and began to increasingly focus on the “premium” business after it closed a sale supporting a supermarket continuity program offering a set of steak knives with proofs of purchase.” By the early 1980s, his father, John, had transformed the company to focus on the incentive industry. “I think my dad found it more interesting,” he said of his father who passed way in the 1990s. His father helped found and was a leader of IMRA, the field’s trade association.
Today, Hoffman & Edgette supports customers in the states of New York and New Jersey and works with several other regional incentive representatives to run the Metro Incentive Show, which usually takes place in northeastern New Jersey near New York City in spring.
In addition to Edgette, Hoffman & Edgette today consists of his wife and active business partner Terri Edgette, industry veteran Greg Canose (lower photo), whose Award Marketing Services company Edgette purchased, and Katie Lugas, who handles inside sales and marketing and who brings a fresh perspective to selecting brands and products for clients, Edgette says. “One of things important to us is having younger people with different skills, interests, and who are following the trends. She spots things I will miss, which is a great asset.”
For More Information
Hoffman & Edgette
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Education, Certifications, and Information to Activate
Brand Media and Enterprise Engagement
A complete learning, certification, and information program and a course syllabus for educators.
Resources: The Brand Media Coalition, the only guide to the story-telling power of brands and where to source them for business, event, promotional gifting, and rewards and recognition. Enterprise Engagement Solution Provider Directory. The only directory of engagement solution providers covering all types of agencies and tactics as well as insights on how to select them.
Communities: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance and Advocate and the Brand Media Coalition free resource centers offering access to the latest research, news, and case studies; discounts, promotions, referrals, and commissions, when appropriate to third-party solution providers from participating coalition solution provider members.
Training and Certification
Enterprise Engagement Alliance Education: Certified Engagement Practitioner; Advanced Engaged Practitioner, and Certified Engagement Solution Provider learning and certification programs on how to implement Stakeholder Capitalism principles at the tactical level.
International Center for Enterprise Engagement: The only training and certification program for ISO 30414 human capital reporting and ISO 10018 quality people management certification.
The EEA offers a complimentary course syllabus for educators.
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10-minute short course: click here for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards from the Coggno.com learning platform.
• The Engagement Agency at EngagementAgency.net, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
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• Speakers Bureau—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
• Mergers and Acquisitions. The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777.
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here to access the tools.
• ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy.
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For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheEEA.org, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.