The Great American Hanger Company15
The Great American Hanger Company was founded by 25-year-old entrepreneur Devon Rifkin in 1999. Rifkin’s vision was to create a company dedicated solely to providing solutions for clothes-hanging needs. The company supplies a broad range of hanger products in both wood and metal, some with fabric overlays, to leading hotels and also sells directly to wealthy individuals worldwide. The company grew from an idea to a US$100 million firm in less than 10 years.
Design, marketing, and distribution of an extensive product line is coordinated at the company’s corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida. Manufacturing, however, takes place at several sites in Asia, initially in India and now also in China. Rifkin established his first Asian link over the internet through the sourcing website Alibaba.com. The Wooden Enterprises and Trading Cooperative in India was able to produce his wooden and metal designs with high quality at low cost, enabling Rifkin to grow his company rapidly by being highly competitive.
The Great American Hanger Company now uses Hong Kong as its sourcing hub. Rifkin is able to meet suppliers, view finished products, and schedule follow-up visits to manufacturing facilities in a time- and cost-effective manner. He was quoted in the Hong Kong Trader as crediting much of the growth and success of his company to this strategy: “The air that we breathe, so to speak, has everything to do with our suppliers and our supply from China, and our relations through Hong Kong as the door that opens for us to the rest of our supply world. I give Hong Kong and China single-handedly the credit for allowing me the opportunity to grow my business as successfully as we have thus far.”
Once the supply chain was firmly established, the key to success has been the focus on a single product category—hangers. Growth was based on marketing to selective targets—hotels, retail stores, and now celebrities and other wealthy individuals—both domestically and internationally. This is a good prescription for any entrepreneur to follow.
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