Distribution and Manufacturing
Amin Rahman Ramjee
Amin Rahman Ramjee, CEO of DiscountMugs.com, has a succinct mantra: Keep it simple. The philosophy resonates throughout his promotional goods company. DiscountMugs.com’s model is based on the premise that one can consolidate the supply chain and sell directly to customers, cutting out the middlemen. While most competitors layer their invoices with multiple service fees, DiscountMugs.com offers an all-inclusive transparent price per merchandise, regardless of quantities.
The upward trajectory of the company can be attributed to bold decisions. Four years ago, Ramjee elected to borrow a large amount of capital to consolidate his production into one warehouse that was five times larger than the combined capacity of the three warehouses he operated. Defying conventional wisdom at a time when the promotional goods industry was being pummeled by the global recession, Ramjee made the decision anchored in the confidence that his operating model was more efficient and his customer prices cheaper than his competitors.
Ramjee exhibits high discipline in making purchasing and investment decisions. He only markets products that sell in high volumes and uses extensive research to buy at the lowest cost possible. His relentless search for efficiency and cost optimization has led to many profitable decisions, including buying printing equipment from China at a fraction of the price of equipment made in Germany and purchasing equipment to manufacture certain goods in the U.S. rather than import them.
The majority of DiscountMugs.com’s employees and managers have risen through the ranks through a combination of hard work and having an environment that rewards personal initiatives and loyalty. Many of the top managers have been with the company from the very beginning.
Ramjee believes that the best formula for charitable giving requires a combination of financial support and personal involvement. Ramjee and his wife have engaged in numerous charitable and philanthropic activities in the community.
Anthony Alfonso entered the contract manufacturing side of the vitamin and nutritional supplement industry in 2001 knowing he faced an uphill climb. The competitive, unregulated industry and its players suffered from a lack of credibility, so the entrepreneurial pharmacist’s first task was to gain customer trust.
He differentiated Nutri-Force Nutrition based on superior levels of safety and customer service, quality control and quality assurance. As CEO, he risked all he had, and some outside money, to build what now stands as an organic-certified, Current Good Manufacturing Practices-certified manufacturing facility fully compliant with U.S. pharmacopeia standards.
The company quickly reached profitability, allowing him to reinvest 100 percent of earnings and assemble a skilled management team, most of who remain with the company. The team’s strength lies in mutual trust and its ability to act on decisions that affect the future. In 2007, MBF Healthcare Partners purchased majority interest, positioning the company for future growth.
Alfonso leads by example, seeking employees with drive to succeed in their own right. It’s particularly true for South Florida immigrants with strong technical backgrounds in chemistry, chemical engineering and similar disciplines who rarely receive a chance to use their skills. As a result, and with a commitment to promote from within, many who were hired into entry-level spots are now managers.
In 2011, Alfonso and the team made the risky move of targeting “Tier 1” customers. Although margins are thinner and the change was costly, it enabled the company to fix its costs, a move that is now paying off. Similarly, when the FDA moved to regulate the industry, Alfonso welcomed it as a positive, raising the company profile and making the increased oversight worth it in the long run. Today, the company’s growth significantly outpaces its competitors.
Superior Uniform Group, Inc.
A fourth-generation member of the Superior Uniform Group, Inc. family, Michael Benstock started with the company working part time after school when he was 10. Since he became CEO in 2003, Superior Uniform Group’s annual revenue has more than doubled.
Superior Uniform Group provides high-quality uniforms at competitive prices to help businesses achieve a professional appearance. The company helps its clients communicate their brand through a talented, in-house design team and extensive quality control practices.
Between 1968 and 1979, the company experienced tremendous growth. As Benstock’s service in the Israeli Defense Forces was ending, he returned to the U.S. to begin a professional career just as the company relocated from Long Island to Seminole, Florida. Starting as a customer service representative, he worked his way up through the logistics, distribution and expediting department to CEO.
As an innovator, Benstock sought ways to improve efficiencies at work and use technology as a problem solver. Throughout his tenure, he has strived to marry the 94 years of rich history and experience of Superior Uniform Group with technology, innovation and a fresh spirit. He was the first person in the company to bring a computer into the business, using it for presentations and for analyses in search of ways to be efficient.
In the 1990s, the company became the first in the retail distribution industry to implement a robotic arm. It became one of the first to use a digital “eye” in the distribution process to inspect shipments and route product accordingly.
Benstock’s constant search for new ideas and innovative initiatives is a daily activity, which he finds intriguing and beneficial to the success of Superior Uniform Group. Over the years, he has invested in many initiatives to expand the company — accepting and supporting failure as a learning experience to help the company in the long run.