Guts Lead to Glory at Usborne Books & More

by Barbara Seale

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Company Profile

Founded: 1989
Headquarters: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Executives: Founder and CEO Randall White and Vice President Heather Cobb
Products: Educational children’s books

 Randall White and Heather Cobb

Randall White and Heather Cobb

It was a David and Goliath decision—one that would make any direct seller proud. More importantly, it set the stage for growth for Usborne Books & More, one of the direct selling industry’s few book sellers.

Usborne Books & More (UBAM) is the direct selling division of Educational Development Corp. (EDC), which has been in business in the United States since 1978. It sells children’s educational books primarily at parties, and some of the consultants also sell at book fairs, as well as to libraries and schools. UBAM has always been a bit of a rebel-with-a-cause, gaining its first steady market of home schoolers and being led by outspoken EDC CEO and Usborne Books & More Founder Randall White. The thorn in its side:

Amazon was buying EDC’s books primarily from a wholesaler and slashing the retail price to the bone, including large orders sold to libraries and schools. If you’ve ever thumbed through a book at a retail store but then purchased it online at Amazon to save a couple of bucks, you have done what some Usborne Books & More customers have also done—much to the chagrin of UBAM consultants.

When the Usborne Books & More consultants who sold to schools and libraries—about 20 percent of the company’s business—encountered the practice, it didn’t just frustrate them. It threatened their business. The consultant might have gone through layers and layers of administration, making repeated presentations on book collections, getting enthusiastic, positive feedback, only to have the library make its final purchase through Amazon. It’s not a situation that leads to consultant retention. By 2012 the practice hit the company hard. Consultants started quitting, and sales dropped 20 percent.

By early 2012 White had had enough. He asked the wholesaler, which at the time accounted for 20 percent of EDC’s sales, to stop selling the company’s books through the online retailer. The wholesaler refused, but White was determined. He cancelled its account, all but eliminating the sale of EDC’s books directly from

Usborne Books & More has now recorded 19 consecutive months of growth, with the past six months each posting monthly gains in excess of 40 percent over the same months in 2013.

Growth Genesis

The action was bold, and it spoke loudly to UBAM’s consultants. They loved it. It told them that White had their backs. Even though slinging a stone at giant Amazon was a risky move, as White told The New York Times in his characteristic style, “You never have the chance to make 7,000 women happy in one day.”

White calls it the most important action he, as the company’s founder, has ever taken. Consultants were energized to hold more parties and approach more schools and libraries, knowing that consumers would purchase from them, rather than online. That confidence led to recruiting, as well. Fueled by additional incentives from Usborne Books & More, selling and recruiting have increased, creating a snowball effect. Growth has hit an all-time high. Since its low point in 2012, the company more than doubled its number of active consultants by the end of 2014 and now has 8,000 active consultants. More importantly, growth has continued.

From February to June 2014 revenue grew more than … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.


Fortune Ranks Tupperware among World’s Most Admired Companies

Photo: Flickr/PeacockModern

Tupperware Brands has once again landed on Fortune’s annual ranking of the World’s Most Admired Companies. The global brand has now spent eight consecutive years on the list, where it falls under the Home Equipment, Furnishings category.

To compile its report card on corporate reputation, Fortune ranks nine key attributes such as use of corporates assets, social responsibility and long-term investment value. Tupperware ranked highest in its category for global competitiveness, and second for innovation and use of corporate assets. The company markets its kitchenware, beauty and personal-care products through an independent salesforce of 2.9 million in nearly 100 countries.

“The strength of our mission and our people propels us as a company to continue our success,” Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO, said of Tupperware’s work to empower and support women. “Global competitiveness is one of the priorities of the business, along with the other categories the list is derived from, and we are honored to be ranked on the World’s Most Admired Companies list for the eighth year in a row.”

Tupperware’s efforts on behalf of women extend beyond promoting financial independence. As a natural extension of its business model, the brand also aims to impact lives through opportunity, support and relationships—a philosophy embodied in its Chain of Confidence program. Goings and his wife, Susan, Global Ambassador for the program, recently accepted the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum’s Voice for Women Award in recognition of their work. U.N. Women also tapped Goings to represent Tupperware on its Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council, an initiative focused on economic and political advancement for women.

Nu Skin Ranked among Fortune’s Fastest-Growing Companies

Fortune recently published its annual roundup of the fastest-growing public companies in American business, and direct selling powerhouse Nu Skin came in at No. 68 on the list.

In a testament to America’s booming shale business, a quarter of this year’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies represent the oil and gas industry. Household brands such as The Hunger Games and Divergent distributor Lions Gate Entertainment (No. 15), K-Cup maker Keurig Green Mountain (No. 48) and Apple (No. 88) also appear. Fortune’s ranking reflects profit, revenue and stock growth over the preceding three-year period.

Nu Skin, a seller of skincare and nutrition products, grew its business by half in 2013 alone. The Provo, Utah-based company reported sales of $3.18 billion, a $977-million increase over 2012. With industry-leading growth in 2013, Nu Skin earned DSN’s Bravo Growth Award based on revenue and the No. 7 ranking on the DSN Global 100. For 2014, the company reported revenues down 3 percent to $650.0 million in the second quarter.

Tupperware Ranks among Fortune’s ‘Most Admired Companies’

For the seventh consecutive year, Tupperware Brands Corp. has been recognized on Fortune’s annual list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. The 68-year-old brand’s corporate reputation ranks second in the Home Equipment and Furnishings category.

Within the category, Tupperware leads its competitors in global competitiveness and ranks second in innovation, social responsibility and quality of products/services. Those attributes align with the company’s key business priorities, notes Tupperware Chairman and CEO Rick Goings.

The rapidly changing face of the Tupperware consumer reflects the extent of the company’s global competitiveness. In the fourth quarter, emerging markets accounted for 60 percent of sales, and Goings projects that figure will grow to at least 80 percent by 2019. For 2013, the company posted strong growth in Indonesia (33 percent); South Africa (28 percent); Turkey (24 percent) and China (20 percent).

A recent infographic from Tupperware showcases the impact of its direct selling opportunity in Indonesia, its fastest-growing market. Tupperware surveyed women who have spent at least three years in the company’s salesforce, and their responses provide insight into the increased skills, self-confidence and financial security that have resulted from their experiences with the company.

Read more on Tupperware’s global recognition.

Avon CEO among Fortune’s Most Powerful Businesswomen

FORTUNE recently named Avon CEO Sheri McCoy to its list of “The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business: Global Edition.” McCoy ranks No. 19, followed by Google SVP Susan Wojcicki at No. 20. GM’s Mary Barra, IBM’s Ginni Rometty and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi hold the top three spots on the list.

Following a distinguished 30-year career at Johnson & Johnson, McCoy joined Avon in April 2012 with a focus on stabilizing the business and driving long-term growth initiatives. In a third quarter report that showed revenue down 7 percent, McCoy stated that the company is nevertheless “headed in the right direction,” with progress toward its long-term financial goals. Avon will report later this week on fourth-quarter and full-year 2013earnings.

FORTUNE’s inaugural global ranking evaluates executive power from an international perspective, taking into account the leader’s standing in the worldwide business community. Other assessments include the size, importance and health of the business, as well as the leader’s career arc.

View the full profile from FORTUNE.

Avon CEO among Fortune’s Most Powerful Businesswomen


Sheri McCoy

Sheri McCoy


Fortune has named Avon CEO Sheri McCoy to its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, among a lineup that includes IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. McCoy holds the No. 20 spot on the ranking, which considers the size, importance and outlook of the woman’s business in the global economy, as well as her career arc and social and cultural influence.

Since joining Avon in April 2012, McCoy has implemented a comprehensive strategy to restructure the company’s lagging business. Avon has sold its Silpada jewelry business to the former owners and is currently in the midst of exiting several underperforming markets.

“Our second-quarter results reflect continued progress in stabilizing Avon’s business,” said McCoy in a report detailing the company’s second-quarter 2013 performance, which saw total revenue decrease 2 percent to $2.5 billion. “There is still significant work to be done to deliver sustainable performance in the near and longer term, but I’m pleased with the progress to date. We will succeed by continuing our focus on better serving Avon Representatives, creating a compelling consumer proposition, and simplifying our business to drive both top- and bottom-line improvements.”

View the full ranking from Fortune.

Medifast on FORTUNE’s Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies List


Every year FORTUNE Magazine posts its annual list of movers and shakers, called the Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies.

It’s easy to understand why companies like Apple and Cirrus Logic are leaders on this prestigious list. Looking down the list we found something great for the direct selling industry—recognition of Medifast as No. 46 on the list. Medifast is a manufacturer and provider of clinically proven, portion-controlled weight-loss products and programs and parent to Take Shape for Life. According to FORTUNE’s report, over a 3-year average Medifast realized 40 percent revenue growth, 59 percent profit growth and a 20 percent total return. For fiscal year 2011, revenue increased by 16 percent to $298.2 million over the previous year.

To qualify, a company—domestic or foreign—must be trading on a major U.S. stock exchange; report data in U.S. dollars; file quarterly reports with the SEC; have a minimum market capitalization of $250 million and a stock price of at least $5 on June 29, 2012; and have been trading continuously since June 30, 2009. Companies must have revenue and net income of at least $50 million and $10 million, respectively, for the four quarters ended on or before April 30, 2012; and have posted an annualized growth in revenue and earnings per share of at least 20 percent annually over the three years ended on or before April 30, 2012.

Companies that meet these criteria are ranked by revenue growth rate; EPS growth rate; and three-year annualized total return for the period ended June 29, 2012. (To compute the revenue and EPS growth rates, FORTUNE uses a trailing four quarters log linear least square regression fit.)

The overall rank is based on the sum of the three ranks. Once the 100 companies are identified, they are then re-ranked within the 100, using the three equally weighted variables. If there is a tie, the company with the larger four-quarter revenue receives the higher rank.

Excluded are real estate investment trusts, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, business development companies, closed end investment firms, companies about to be acquired, and companies that lost money in the quarter ended on or before April 30, 2012. In addition, FORTUNE excludes companies that have announced intentions to restate previously reported financial data, if these errors appear to have a significant impact. Also, FORTUNE excludes companies that lost money in the quarter ended May 31 or June 30, if the loss represents a deterioration in business conditions. The data are provided by Zacks Investment Research. The data process was aided by information provided by S&P Capital IQ, Hoover’s; Thomson Reuters, and Morningstar Document Research.

Congratulations to our friends at Medifast!

See the entire list and details on each of the companies here.