Business-to-business e-commerce site MadeToOrder.com today announced the acquisition of Harwood Co., a brick-and-mortar advertising specialty distributor. MadeToOrder.com bought the Oakland, Calif.-based company, which had 1999 revenues of about $17 million, for an undisclosed amount that included cash, stock and debt relief. Harwood's clients include IBM and Cisco Systems.
MadeToOrder.com, launched last September, sells logo-branded merchandise. The advertising specialties industry is fragmented but huge, with revenues estimated at $20 billion this year.
Wes Rose, MadeToOrder.com president and CEO, said the combined businesses will blend high tech and high touch. "Harwood's sales representatives already have relationships with the clients and know their needs and wants," he said. "We're marrying that with the unique attributes of our e-commerce site."
Before launching MadeToOrder.com, the Redwood City, Calif., business operated as a software vendor under the name Austin James Inc. The site includes a Web-based version of that software, called LogoMaster, which lets businesses securely store corporate artwork, and also provides directions for correct placement and usage.
Sara Lee Corp., a major supplier of T-shirts for this market, is an investor in MadeToOrder.com, and its Hanes and Champion brands are featured on the site. Other brands there are Swiss Army, Cross, Leeds, Outer Banks and Port Authority.
"Large companies don't do business with any one vendor that serves all their needs," said Maurice Voce, vice president of marketing at MadeToOrder.com, "so this is a step forward. There was no chance of aggregating your power as a customer, assuring quality and optimizing the relationship."
The merger should help clients by giving them more control, said former Harwood president Rod Brown, who becomes senior vice president of field operations for MadeToOrder.com. "They can't afford to have their logo printed in the wrong color or shaped like the state of Texas," Brown said. Customers also will save time and may see cost savings on each item.
Harwood's Oakland facility will become the national corporate sales headquarters for MadeToOrder.com.