Awards & Engraving

December '17

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10 • A&E DECEMBER 2017 Inside the Integration Efforts of PDU CAT Inc. Plastic Dress-Up Company (PDU) and Continental Awards & Trophies Inc. (CAT) have both been an established presence in the awards and engraving industry for approximately 50 years. Now, the two com- panies are combining forces to create PDU CAT Inc., creating a stronger, more com- petitive and efficient international organiza- tion to better serve customers, PDU and CAT announced Friday. "The market is challenging," says PDU CAT National Sales Manager Ed Hunt. "We want to be stronger and we know we can be stronger together than we can be apart." According to Hunt, PDU CAT COO Dennis Funk and President Derrick Cal- cote have entertained the possibility of a full merger of the two companies to make a stronger force in the industry since entering a strategic alliance in 2008. For the past nine years, PDU and CAT have stocked each other's respective prod- ucts in warehouses across the country. "It was always something we thought about," says Calcote. "We cryptically referred to it as, 'The Big Project.' The timing never felt right, but we built up a lot of trust and respect over those nine years." The companies began discussing the merger in earnest about a year and a half ago, he tells A&E magazine. "The firm decision to proceed on this path was made in late 2017." It was a natural fit, adds Funk. "It just made too much sense not to do it," he explains. "As separate companies, there is too much duplication of efforts. By working together, we can meet our mutual goals much more efficiently." There are three areas where PDU CAT customers will see the benefits of this deci- sion: price, a combined and expanded product offering, and convenient shipping. "Despite the weakening of the U.S. dollar abroad, the increased buying power of PDU CAT can help us mitigate potential price increases from our suppliers and, therefore, be able to protect our cus- tomers," Calcote claims. With the merger, the new company will also expand its pres- ence with 17 facilities in the U.S., offering customers same-day or next-day services from the fully-combined and expanded product line under PDU CAT. The company aims to accomplish these goals within the next year as they take the steps toward full-integration. At a corporate level, the merger is com- plete, but that is just one small drop in the bucket. "On a practical level, there seems to be a thousand different things that need to happen to get the two companies com- bined into one," Calcote explains. "(Every step) has to be broken down by larger versus small, quick versus time-consuming, important versus preferential, and urgent versus non-time-sensitive. The first step is simply building a road map where we figure out which of those 'buckets' each project falls into and prioritizing accordingly." According to Hunt, one of the big- gest hurdles so far has been combining the companies' computer operating sys- tems. "Some features of PDU's order entry system is better than CAT's and vice versa," he says. "We're looking at what will work best for the customer and go with that." The timeline for the complete integra- tion into PDU CAT is one year. "While we'd like it to go quicker, realistically speaking, we expect full integration could take up to 12 months," explains Funk. "We want to make sure we are considering each and every customer, so we want to take the time to do it right." All new products will be released under the PDU CAT brand starting with the 2018 catalog, Hunt notes. "We hope to have everything ironed out by the first of the year when the combined catalog comes out." Headquartered in Memphis and with corporate offices in California, the com- pany also plans on adding personnel and unveiling a new website. In the meantime, current orders will not be affected and customers are advised to continue to interact with each brand as they always have, placing orders through their channels of preference. "We're not going to make any drastic changes soon. We're just trying to improve our service at this point," Hunt explains. Throughout the transition, PDU CAT is hoping to keep any negative affect on customers at a minimum. "There will be small inconveniences that seem unavoid- able," Calcote stresses, adding that while customer service is being maintained in both Memphis and Los Angeles, the pri- mary number some customers call may change. Customers also may be given a new account number and other similar logistical changes. Any emails or ques- tions to will quickly route to the appropriate party, Funk adds. In light of the recent news, both Funk and Calcote agree that the future looks bright for PDU CAT Inc. and hope the inte- gration will reflect greater success for its customers. "It is a time of growth and a time of learning," Funk notes. "Both companies have different areas of greater strength. By learning from each other, we can truly offer the best of both worlds." It's an exciting time for everyone, Cal- cote adds. "Everyone here seems to be working crazy hours trying their best to get the integration fully complete. While there will be incremental improvements along the way, we look forward to when everyone will reap the full benefits this merger promises." ON THE MOVE News R

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