Bob Marino, vice president and chief operating officer of Café Press, is tall and slender. He has dark hair and a goatee. While he may not look a lot like jolly old Saint Nick, he has several of the same characteristics: He is full of charisma and energy, has a band of merry elves who keep his factory running, makes gifts for all those who are naughty and nice and most importantly… has a big brown “sleigh,” better known as a UPS truck, there to support him.
Café Press is a unique company founded in October 1999 that specializes in providing its customers “self-expression through merchandise.” According to the company, “it’s not about wearing a shirt or drinking from a mug, it’s about what’s on it and what it means.”
Café Press has come a long way from two people in a dusty garage to 6.5 million customers and nearly 400 employees. From its storefront on the Internet, the company sells everything from T-shirts to ornaments… all personalized. They offer a unique network of artistic entrepreneurs who become shopkeepers and sell over 250 million unique gifts. As Bob puts it, “we put the YOU in unique.”
Café Press is much like UPS in that during gift-giving season, its business will spike. In fact, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Café Press’ business will increase anywhere from 50% to 150% above a normal day. This can mean as many as 30,000 shipments a day.
How does UPS handle this increase in volume? Very skillfully, of course. We do whatever it takes. During the holidays, we fill five large truck trailers a day with Café Press shipments. Many are bound for Worldport®, just minutes away, where they will be sorted and flown on UPS jets to customers in mere hours.
Now back to Bob…Bob is charged with the task of overseeing the daily activities of Café Press and shepherding new initiatives. He says he enjoys walking through the operation and looking at all the unique products. According to Bob, Café Press must match the quality and delivery times of mass-produced items. He has an incredible team of engineers and inventors who create what they need on the fly.
Bob says, “You would think after all the ingenuity that gives me all this, I could have what the guy at the North Pole has, right? We can make the red suit and black boots…but I don’t have the sleigh. So for that, we’re going to rely on UPS.”
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