As 2012 winds down, it means the magical time of the year is right around the corner. The holiday season began with Halloween, which according to a National Retail Federation report says a record 170 million people celebrated this year, with the average person spending $79.82 on decorations, costumes, candy and cards.
While Thanksgiving takes place next week, every retail outlet is loaded with merchandise for the December trio of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. But for Hallmark Cards, business is not limited to the holidays. The world’s undisputed leading greeting card company recognizes life’s special occasions, 365 days every year. Whether it’s a card to remember a birthday, wedding, anniversary or graduation, express sympathy or gratitude, they have a product to honor all the milestones in life.
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Hallmark keeps building on its success and tradition that began 102 years ago in 1910. Not only do they issue 10,000 new and redesigned greeting cards each year, Hallmark makes available a stunning 49,000 products at any given time. That includes offerings for their Keepsake Ornaments, which introduced more than 100 new holiday ornaments at Ornament Debut last month.
Award-winning partnership for over 30 years
When you produce products in 30 languages and sell them in 100 countries around the world, it takes some help to stay on course and get the job done. That’s where a relationship with The MATLET Group fits into the picture, with Central Florida Press (CFP) in Orlando and NOVA Marketing Services in St. Louis managing a large amount of award-winning work across multiple product lines. The MATLET Group is a minority-owned supplier that has the firepower to compete, which led Hallmark to honor CFP with its Supplier Diversity Award in 2011.
“Over the past decade, The MATLET Group and Hallmark Cards have developed a strong business relationship that is focused on delivering value, driving competitiveness and providing consistent execution of Hallmark’s marketing print requirements,” said Tom Ferrell, Global Procurement Director – Indirect, for Hallmark Cards.
The MATLET Group’s history credits Hallmark with the creation of the company known today as NOVA Marketing Services.
“In 1981, we were known as Sayers Printing Co., doing fulfillment kits for merchandisers when Hallmark approached us,” recalled Clay Loomis, Senior Account Executive at CFP. “Back then, we originally did the greeting cards work by hand and Hallmark opened the door for us to get clients like Budweiser and Upper Deck. We needed a larger building to accommodate the machines and the extra people we hired to handle the overflow work, so NOVA Marketing Services was born. Quebecor then bought Sayers, and in 2005 The MATLET Group made NOVA Marketing Services one of its divisions.”
“Through the years, the MATLET Group has assisted Hallmark on a variety of marketing projects in support of their ever-changing business and marketplace demands,” continued Ferrell. “Their model combines lithography from CFP in Florida and fulfillment at NOVA in Missouri to deliver seamless execution of a wide range of marketing product formats.”
Printing and fulfillment that balances the bottom line
Both companies get involved in the two Dream Book versions for Keepsakes Ornament Club members (KOC) and an in-store version for all consumers. The Dream Book work dates back to 1981. CFP prints a larger size, high-end perfect bound book for KOC members. A number of the books are mailed to KOC members while the others are shipped to Hallmark distribution centers. More than one million copies are printed of the in-store version, which is smaller in size and saddle stitched. CFP also provides support for a variety of KOC collateral materials.
NOVA provides the back end support with Ornament fulfillment for KOC members. NOVA has been involved with the highly successful Keepsakes Ornament Club for 14 years.
“NOVA does a fantastic job in keeping postage and fulfillment costs to a minimum for our Keepsake collectors,” remarked Sherry Ratcliffe, Operations Manager for KOC. “The Keepsakes Ornament Club members are Hallmark’s best ornament customers. Due to NOVA helping us keep our costs down, we haven’t had to increase KOC membership fees for many years.”
The program integrates NOVA with a call center that accepts orders. NOVA then picks, packs and ships unique and decorative ornaments to the KOC membership with steadfast consistency. This is a great example of The MATLET Group’s end-to-end solutions.
The Date Book requires a more extensive effort. It too has an illustrious history, originating in the mid-1990s when Hallmark needed a solution to move order processing work from its Leavenworth, Kansas production center. The MATLET Group is the first and only company to create all the solutions for the Date Book.
CFP now ships weekly orders and reorders to 8,000 locations, including big box customer Walmart, Walgreens and CVS stores, and 2,800 Hallmark Gold Crown stores. This process includes fulfillment and tracking responsibilities.
“CFP also produces direct mail with newsletters, gift guides, catalogues and flat-piece bag stuffers, even some promotional pieces and postcards tied in with sales specials,” said Kent Shore, an Account Executive at CFP. “All of the mailings are national, which Hallmark distributes either to stores or direct to consumers. A typical run can be anywhere between 20,000 to 8 million; the largest orders require us to involve every department and every press at CFP. When you combine everything, we’re printing between 50-60 million pieces a year for Hallmark.”
Each year Hallmark recognizes key minority-owned suppliers as well as members of their buying team who demonstrate outstanding commitment to supplier diversity. CFP won Hallmark’s Diversity Supplier Award in 2011 when it was cited for efficiently combining press runs in 2010 for the Datebooks and pocket calendar work. Hallmark indicated various suggestions, CFP’s attention to detail and a willingness to go the extra mile in terms of service factored heavily in the award decision.
“In 2011, The MATLET Group received Hallmark’s distinguished Diversity Supplier of the Year award recognizing their superior quality and customer service,” said Hallmark’s Ferrell. “The MATLET Group is among a select group of Hallmark’s top performing suppliers that consistently delivers superior print and fulfillment services.”
Rock solid credentials
NOVA’s success with Hallmark is built on people and precision-like effort, but also includes several other avenues. The MATLET Group is a member of the prestigious National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMDSC) Corporate Plus® group of Minority Business Enterprises (MBE). NMDSC is a non-profit agency of national and local major corporations that provides an important link for procurement between corporate America and MBEs.
NOVA also has a lengthy track record in fulfillment efficiency, says company President Kathy Abbett.
“We earned our Quality Certification in the 1980s and that has kept us on the path to meeting tight deadlines and producing quantifiable results for a number of Fortune 100 companies. In 2011, we were proud to be designated ISO 9001:2008 certified. Being recognized for establishing and applying a Quality Management System for the management, order fulfillment, packaging and shipping of customer programs and products is proving to be a huge advantage to us.”
The MATLET Group works hard behind-the scenes to provide superior quality, outstanding services and products, which is just one example of what makes Hallmark Cards truly special.