John Pulichino graduated from Lowell Technological Institute, the pre-cursor to UMass Lowell in 1967 with his degree in industrial management. After graduation, he entered Northeastern University to obtain a master’s degree in engineering management. John became the director of industrial management at the Polaroid Corporation during the 1970s. Polaroid is itself a great example of technological entrepreneurship as Edwin H. Land came up with a way to develop photographic film inside the camera rather than in a dark room. Land was a brilliant student who studied at Columbia and Harvard but was only in it for the knowledge. He would learn what he wanted and then drop out of class and the college and follow his own ideas. He never obtained an earned degree, but Harvard eventually awarded him an honorary doctorate for his brilliance. The Polaroid Camera was a huge success and the company grew rapidly. Unfortunately, the Polaroid company is also a dramatic example of Joseph Schumpeter’s principle of “Creative Destruction” -as the new technology of digital cameras quickly made the Polaroid camera obsolete and put Polaroid out of business.
After a successful career at Polaroid, and before the company met its ignominious end, John left for American Tourister Luggage in 1980 and within two years he was the President and CEO. American Tourister is still remembered for the famous advertising campaign in which a gorilla tried (and failed) to destroy a piece of their luggage. The ad was so memorable that it was included in a scene from the movie Apollo 13! During a 14 year stint as President, John grew American Tourister sales from $ 30 million to $150 million. In 1993 the company was sold to Astrum International (later Samsonite) for about $68 million. John then founded Innovation Luggage. This time, the man who had made a success of everything he had ever tried, encountered his first failure as his company went bankrupt in 2001. Along the way, one of his competitors was an up and coming firm called Group III International, founded by Joy Tong in 1984 as a boutique wholesale firm. It was a success, but not a huge success. Fortunately, they decided to team up both their professional and private lives and this was a huge success.
• John became the CEO of Group III International and Joy moved into the role of Creative Director. The rest is history.
• They went to the family in Switzerland that owns the intellectual property rights to the Swiss Army Knife brand and obtained the rights to market luggage products under the Wenger Swiss Army Knife Brand.
• John’s profile as a former CEO in the luggage industry helped the famously cautious Wenger family trust that he would not tarnish their brand –of which they were quite protective.
• They also did a licensing deal with BMW and created a “French West indies” brand.
• Today they distribute more than 60 lines of products through Target alone. Sales over the last decade exceed $ 600 million.
Group III International Ltd. ("Group III" or the "Company") is a rapidly growing designer and marketer of the highly recognized Wenger Swiss Army brand for travel gear including luggage, backpacks, computer bags, and other products. Through its design expertise, strong offshore manufacturing partnerships, and well-defined distribution model, Group III has achieved significant market share in the travel/work gear category. The Company has a diverse customer base which includes national retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Ross, Marshalls and Meijer, among many others, with a significant international presence. Founded in 1984, the Company is based in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Abacus Finance and Trivest announce an investment in Group III: • September 2011 - Abacus Finance Group, LLC (Abacus), a recently formed New York-based specialty finance company, announced today that it served as Administrative Agent and Joint Lead Arranger for $32.5 million in senior secured credit facilities to support the recapitalization of Group III International, Ltd. (Group III) by management and Trivest Partners, L.P. (Trivest). In addition to arranging the financing, Abacus, which focuses exclusively on providing cash flow financing for private equity-sponsored, lower middle-market companies nationwide, made an equity co-investment in Group III. Abacus was joined in the financing by Madison Capital Funding LLC with legal counsel provided by Goulston & Storrs LLP. • Group III, based in Pompano Beach, Fl., is a designer and marketer of the universally recognized Wenger (maker of the Genuine Swiss Army Knife) brand for travel/work gear including luggage, backpacks, computer bags, and other products. Miami-based Trivest is a private investment firm that focuses on partnering with founder/family-owned businesses across the United States and Canada.
Group III International Buys BackPacks.com Domain Name on July 16, 2015
Like many entrepreneurs, the best part was building the company, and they eventually sold it to a private equity investor.
• One of the first things that they did was to create the Pulichino-Tong Family Foundation and establish scholarships for UMass Lowell Manning School of Business students.
• Although they do not state the exact amount of their generosity, it is estimated to exceed $ 5 million.
• In gratitude for their generosity to the students, the University is naming the new Manning School of Business in their honor as the Pulichino-Tong building.
• But the story does not end there.
• In 2015, they bought the company BACK from the private investors and are running it again!
How did John Pulichino and Joy Tong overcome the handicap of having a brand, Group III International, that no one knew about? How does that fit with the two opposing viewpoints of: "An A team with a B product beats a B team with an A product" or Mark Andressen's view that product-market fit is the most important factor.
The handicap of having a brand, Group III International was trounced by John Pulichino and Joy Tong by a High level proficiency and efficiency in designing. It is also done by preparing an appropriate Product Distribution Model Through a healthy market strategies.
The product market fit is the most significamt factor that leads to affect the competitive level of the firms. Team A is able to compete with B by an effective product-market strategy that is directly related to the preferences and demand of the consumers.
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