33_Bob Page

CEO, Replacements, Ltd
McLeansville - NC US

Dishing Up Results

Bob Page gives sterling service. At least he did on August 30, when he tracked down an Old Atlanta cream spoon to complete an heirloom set for a couple in Tennessee. Launched as a weekend hobby, Replacements Ltd. helps people round out their sets of silverware, crystal, and china. Those spoons add up. Page's company is now a $73 million business with a warehouse the size of five football fields, inventory of more than 10 million pieces, and a staff of 600.

From Bob's original entry:

Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.

In the 1970's, Bob Page, founder and owner of Replacements, Ltd., began collecting china and crystal on weekends while working as an auditor for the state of North Carolina. In 1981, he left his auditing career and began Replacements out of his attic with one part-time assistant. Twenty-two years later, with an inventory of over 10 million pieces, a staff of over 600, and a website selected by Internet Retailer Magazine as a "Top 25 Web Site For 2002," Replacements, Ltd. fulfils its company purpose statement by helping over 5 million customers "create, honor and preserve traditions by connecting them with their most cherished memories." Bob set out to make Replacements, Ltd. one of the nation's most progressive companies, offering a casual, dog friendly, and gay friendly workplace. Replacements, Ltd. is one of thirteen companies nationwide to receive a perfect score in two consecutive years from HRC's Corporate Equality Index.

What was your moment of truth?

Replacements, Ltd.'s sales were flat in the year following September 11, 2001. The company had developed into a size and scope we could not have imagined 20 years ago. Rather than laying off employees, we analyzed our staffing ratios and realized that we had too many people in some areas and not enough in others. We talked with the managers and supervisors in the areas in which we needed to make changes and offered those folks a menu of new opportunities in the company. This flexibility was made possible by the extra cash flow that was generated when we decided to change the way we communicate with our customers. By focusing on email as the main form of customer correspondence we were able to save money on postage. In addition to those savings, the increase in faster and more efficient communication led to an uptick in sales. Changing the way we communicate and having the right people in the right places was a critical step in Replacements, Ltd.'s restructuring, and allowed us to continue to offer our customers world-class service.

What were the results?

Replacements, Ltd. ended this fiscal year by growing sales to just above $73 million. We continue to experience year-over-year growth while many in the tableware industry are in decline. We were featured on the Today Show and helped Katie Couric find pieces for her grandmother's dinnerware pattern. Rand McNally ranked us as one of the top 25 free attractions in the United States. We reinvest in Replacements, Ltd so that we may provide to our employees, give back generously to our community, and create, honor and preserve traditions by connecting our customers to their most cherished memories.

What's your parting tip?

We spend so much of our time at work, it is very important to love what you do for a living.