Mark picks up the narrative. “We look at this in terms of the end user. What does the customer really need? And then we figure out how to do it. There’s been a few times when we look at something and say, ‘No that’s not where we want to go.’ For instance, credit or debit cards. We looked around and saw a lot of other companies doing that, and, frankly, doing it quite well.” The grin returns as he continues, “Besides, we need to leave something for someone else in the industry to do.”
They had no such hesitation when it came to gift cards—which presented a new set of challenges.[quote float=”right”]“With gift cards, the orders can become complicated,” Peter says. “We do all the personalization, the specialty packaging. We even do the distribution, the logistics of getting it to all their retail stores.”[/quote] “With gift cards, the orders can become complicated,” Peter says. “We do all the personalization, the specialty packaging. We even do the distribution, the logistics of getting it to all their retail stores. So we’ll do a drop shipment to every one of their 1100 or 800 locations, whatever it is. We just did it for the craft store Michaels, for Victoria’s Secret stores, things of that nature.”
Beyond the logistics, Mark says the gift cards pose their own complications. “We produce different versions of the same card for a client. They’ll give us a variety of designs and have us run a million of each of them. It was a big transition for us when we went from hotel key cards to adding in the gift and loyalty. In the key cards we’re making millions and millions of the same thing. In the gift card market we’re making millions and millions of unique items. So there’s a huge amount of data and logistical management behind it. The basic key card costs about five cents to produce. But when you add all those elements in, a five-cent product becomes a 12-cent product.”
Considering the growth, the worldwide sales, the multiple products and services, one is tempted to conclude that Goldberg and Krauss never stop working, but they both confess to a number of outside interests.
Mark and his partner have recently sold their house in the Montford area of Asheville and are building a home in the Ramble. An enthusiastic cook, Mark says the new house is designed around the kitchen—which will include a pizza oven. Asked if he has any hobbies other than cooking, Mark says, with a straight face, “Eating.” He admits, “I probably have more food photos on my iPhone than family photos.” When the conversation turns to his reading preferences, the straight face dissolves into a sardonic grin. “My email,” he says. “I get about a thousand a day.”
Peter also manages to mix an outside life in with his PLI commitments. Until a recent back injury curtailed his athletics, he was an active soccer player. He moved to Asheville three years ago with his wife and daughter. “International travel is a huge passion of mine,” he says. “And I’m fortunate that my job takes me to different parts of the world.”
At this point it might be easy for the company to sit back, rest on its laurels, simply maintain its current position. But Mark and Peter are still going full speed ahead. “It’s really the thrill of the ‘what next,’ ” Peter says. “Mark and I are always looking around the corner. We’re always talking to our customers, asking, ‘What are you looking for? Forget what you need today; what is your need for tomorrow?’ And we’re trying to stay ahead of that curve. That’s the stuff that excites me. If I just came in here every day and sold cards, that wouldn’t be very exciting.”
Mark nods along with Peter’s thoughts. “This is going to keep getting bigger,” he says. And how long will they keep pushing the envelope? “As long as we’re having fun.”