Execs of the 2017: Retail Biz CEOs Talk Top Innovations

Execs of the 2017: Retail Biz CEOs Talk Top Innovations

The most demanding and responsible person in a company must not only oversee every aspect of an enterprise, but must also serve as its vision. The buck truly stops at the CEO’s desk.

As part of XBIZ Premiere’s “Execs of the Year: The Year in Review,” these top decision-makers share their take on the most innovative developments of the year.

I would say the main developments are simple. We have spent more time developing relationships with our suppliers and customers and have invested more in our human resources and technology. -Joe Casella. Owner and CEO, Entrenue

Each of the executives we spoke to below is among the finalist nominees for Chief Executive of the Year in the retail industry edition of the 2018 XBIZ Exec Awards.

What developments, innovations do you attribute your company’s success to this year?

Frank Alde
CEO, EPI24/Womanizer

“The incredible effect of The Womanizer and the rollout of its revolutionary patented PleasureAir Technology continues to be the key driver of our explosive growth in 2017. It has steadily increased its market share in the traditional toy market and will continue to do so. Womanizer has created a new product category that will continue to convert customers from traditional off-center motor vibrators to suction-based toys. The significant investment in producing real innovation and serious spend on brand development that winning engineering-based companies such as Womanizer are willing to risk will be rewarded if it produces unique and relevant products, such as the Womanizer 2Go and the Womanizer Plus. We are firmly committed to continue to drive real innovation in our industry and have a strong, unique product pipeline in place for 2018 and beyond. Do expect some very exciting new developments from us next year.”

Justin Ross
CEO, The Screaming O

“Starting with development of the very first Screaming O ring, one of our team’s greatest strengths has been the ability to identify needs in the marketplace. We take stock of the things we’ve learned from our research, in our relationships with retailers and consumers, and from generally keeping our ear to the ground in the industry. Then we apply that knowledge to the thoughtful development of our products. We saw the need for quality, affordable, rechargeable toys; so, this year, we debuted our Charged line. Working from scratch, we designed cost-effective, durable and safe products that have been very well-received by all. Our applied knowledge makes our products profitable for all partners throughout our distribution chain.”

Mark Franks
CEO, Castle Megastore

“2017 has been a record year for Castle. We have continued to remain true to our core values. We are a customer-centric company. We place an extremely high value on consistently delivering a superior retail experience to our guests. We achieve this by attracting the best staff we can find and train them to be experts on the products we stock and sell. We train our staff to be good listeners so they can help our guests make the best choices. We invest heavily in both individual and team development. We provide the best retail tools available in software and hardware. We differentiate Castle from our completion with our exclusive brands and extensive product assortments in all categories. Castle is always a market leader.”

Nick Orlandino
CEO, Pipedream Products

“I want to thank XBIZ and all of our customers for the nomination and for their continued support. This recognition only validates Pipedream’s vision and hard work. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished. 2017 was our best year ever, and we will continue to set the standard and lead the way in product and industry innovation.”

Neal Slateford
Co-Founder, Lovehoney

“We have had great success with our licensed brands this year — particularly, our partnership with E.L. James and the Fifty Shades of Grey brand, which continues to set sales records. Another highlight has been the launch of Lovehoney Broad City Pleasure Collection, a partnership with the U.S. hit Comedy Central TV show. The packaging and POS are eye-catching and bright, with the range being very popular in stores in college towns and with Millennials online. Lovehoney’s continuing success is a result of the great people we have at all levels of the business.”

Ron Braverman
Founder and CEO, Doc Johnson

“We have invested much time and energy over the years into developing the Doc Johnson brand so that it represents the quality and assurance that we have built into our company, but there is another brand level — the pleasure products industry’s brand — that drives customers’ perception of sex toys and the pleasure products industry as a whole. There is an old saying that rising tides lift all ships. Our partners are the backbone of our business, and we place enormous importance on working together to make the entire pleasure products industry a successful and mainstream business. When one company raises the bar and makes it a point to help raise the bar with their partners, the entire industry gains success. We all need to work together to define and promote the pleasure product industry brand we want because regardless of how much we invest in our individual brands, our futures are inexorably tied to our industry’s image.”

Susan Colvin
Founder and CEO, CalExotics

“Innovation has been at the core of our business from the beginning. This year, you can see our latest innovation within our newest products. We’ve worked to bring only the best to our customers, and CalExotics has brought so much excitement and thrills to the market. One example is our Jack Rabbit Signature collection. This collection embodies everything CalExotics is about. It’s fun, exciting and provides an elevated experience every time with its advanced technology and premium materials. Another example is with our Tiny Teaser collection. We worked hard to ensure our bullet would be the best. We wanted it to be small, powerful, with a long-lasting USB-rechargeable battery. With that goal in mind, we created Tiny Teasers — and it has been widely successful as the smallest USB-rechargeable bullets and massagers on the market. Overall, our success hinges on our ability to help people find joy in their lives through our innovative products, and in 2017, I believe we did just that.”

Joe Casella
Owner and CEO, Entrenue

“I would say the main developments are simple. We have spent more time developing relationships with our suppliers and customers and have invested more in our human resources and technology.”