Execs of 2015: Retail Industry Leaders Talk Innovations

XBIZ Premiere

XBIZ Premiere is pleased to present “Execs of 2015: The Year in Review.”

Each of the executives we spoke to below has one thing in common — they are among the finalist nominees for the online industry edition of the 2016 XBIZ Exec Awards.

Of course, the teams in all departments have stepped up to the plate again and delivered exceptional results. We truly work as a team and as a family. -Larry Garland, Eldorado Trading Company

XBIZ captures the thoughts of these influential and motivational leaders as we sought their take of the year 2015.

The following question about the year in review was asked to those running for the Chief Executive Of The Year:

XBIZ: What developments, innovations do you attribute your company's success to this year?

Chris Bakker And Sjerk Wieffering
Founders, Eropartner Distribution

“2015 has been a good year for Eropartner Distribution. We attribute our company’s success to the belief that we always have held since Eropartner Distribution was founded: your success is our success. With this motto in mind, we have expanded into giving both our retail partners and brands from our assortment even more support. Moving to a new warehouse enabled us to carry a wider assortment of the brands in our portfolio. We focus on brand immersion, understanding the brands that we carry and translating that to our retail partners. We try to understand what the retailers need, what works best in their home country and to match that with the products in our assortment. Also, we are in close contact with the brands we carry. It is a constant dialogue. We want to know as much about the brand and the products as possible.”

Tom Berger
CEO, Fairvilla Megastore

“We are witnessing a collision of the past and the future as the Internet transforms shopping. In the shadow of that approaching glacier, we are re-imagining retailing in our industry. People don’t shop just because they need things, but because it is a tactile, social experience and because it’s fun. Our goal is to create a fusion between shopping and theater in our stores. Inventory optimization allowed us to reduce our inventory and increase profitability while fueling efficiency in our supply chain. We’ve created dynamic partnerships with manufacturers to share their message to customers. We’ve shifted our marketing paradigm to community development and tribe building. We are initiating mobile-first approaches that bridge online and offline customer experience.”

Susan Colvin
President And CEO, CalExotics

“We are in the midst of a company-wide rebranding strategy that has been the cornerstone of our success this year. The first step in the process was our new logo, which was officially unveiled at the July 2015 ANME show. Although this is a huge change for our company, it is only a small piece of the overall strategy. The company also moved into a state-of-the-art facility, streamlining our operations and creating a more effective work environment. Our newest products are also leading our success. New kits, Silhouette and best-selling repackage brands like Shane’s World and pumps are all popular at the retail level. Another area we’ve seen great success with is our online retail education portal, CalExotics Institute. This is getting education directly to retail employees, which then translates to consumers. CalExotics has always been at the forefront of education efforts, but the CalExotics Institute takes this to the next level.”

Mark Franks
CEO, Castle Megastore

“2015 has been a banner year at Castle Megastore. This makes our third consecutive year of double-digit top-line growth. We did not achieve this through discounting and other methods used by many retailers. Our commitment to our staff and our guests has separated us from our competition. We are the dominant adult retailer in all our of our markets. Our mission is our passion to serve our guests at a level they don’t expect — to dazzle them with a retail experience they won’t find elsewhere. We achieve this through hiring and developing exceptional, passionate leaders who in turn hire and develop exceptional, passionate staff. Our Castle University training is the best in retail. Product knowledge is at the core of our brand. When Castle guests enter one of our beautiful retail locations, they begin an experience where all are accepted.”

Larry Garland
CEO, Eldorado Trading Company

“This has been a great year here at Eldorado for many reasons. Of course, the teams in all departments have stepped up to the plate again and delivered exceptional results. We truly work as a team and as a family. We are corporate in structure but work in a family environment where everyone is important and listened to. Training and education are a big part of our ability to react quickly to changes. As we all know, change is the only constant in business and in life. We always aim for perfection. The current iteration of that philosophy is this: excellence is not a one-time event, it is a habit. We are constantly training to be the best we can be. Technology is an area we are always looking for ways to improve. This year, we implemented a scan-to-pack process that ensures accuracy. Every item is scanned and checked against the order.”

Dave Levine, A.K.A. “Sex Toy Dave”
Owner and President, CNV, Inc. and

“We launched at XBIZ 2015 and had an amazing first year. Our existing partners have shown enthusiasm and increased sales by moving to the new e-commerce marketing platform. But more importantly, our new technology has allowed us to add new partners that we couldn’t easily handle in the past. For example, we have had great success allowing manufacturers to easily add buy buttons to their B2B sites. Upgrades to our analytic systems have given us and our partners greater insight into who our customers are and what they want. Technical upgrades, extensive data feeds, additional products, more inventory and lower prices on our wholesale drop-ship distributor site have also given us access to some great new customers and sales.”

Nick Orlandino
CEO, Pipedream Products

“Year after year, Pipedream continues to innovate and create brands that fill the white space in the marketplace. We always focus on creating new lines, whether it’s for a new niche or trend we want to establish or just improving on a concept. Pipedream is the only full-service adult manufacturer with all the marketing and merchandising support at its disposal to create an impact in the industry with each release. Everyone’s fighting over space to showcase their new silicone vibrators, while Pipedream looks to create programs that don’t yet exist in the industry. It was another big year for Pipedream and our new collections: Fantasy C-Ringz, King Cock, Crush, iSex, the Mega-Bators, the Wanachi Mega Massage. Pipedream continued to expand domestic manufacturing and acquired Sir Richard’s Condom Company, broadening the Diamond Products family of brands. All of these exciting programs and milestones played a major part in Pipedream’s success in 2015.”

Justin Ross
Founder And CEO, The Screaming O

“The Screaming O celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, and one of the most important ways we have maintained steady growth and success is through loyal relationships with members of our supply chain. We strive to deliver optimal value to our distributors and retailers in order to ensure they reap generous rewards for delivering our products to those who will ultimately enjoy them. Our competitive pricing promotes premium margins, while our Top 25 list provides buyers with a visual breakdown of our most popular and fastest-selling SKUs. These helpful sales tools, matched with our free full-color signage and customized marketing kits, help make doing business with The Screaming O that much more fun and profitable.”

Tom Stewart
Founder and CEO, Sportsheets

“Sportsheets stays on top because we innovate. We can’t stand still. We’re constantly changing. Over the past five or 10 years, I’ve seen that a couple of other companies are kind of stuck in a time warp. They keep doing the same thing year after year: the same packaging, the same look. And I think that we’re still in business because we keep changing and innovating — partly because that’s who we are, and partly because we have to. So many people have copied our Sportsheets products that we have to keep coming out with new stuff. I used to get upset about other companies copying our products, but now, I get it. I took off my ‘I’m pissed’ hat and put on my ‘Let’s get creative’ hat. And having that outlook has been very good for us. We’re a tiny company, but we can go toe-to-toe with larger companies because we keep innovating.”