22 Aug 2014
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CEO of Enumclaw-based PartyPail Says Acquisition Brings in Strategic Partner for Growth

PartyPail this week announced it was selling its e-commerce operations to Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group, a large manufacturer and supplier of disposable tableware including paper plates, cups, napkins, decor, and more.

CEO of Enumclaw-based PartyPail Says Acquisition Brings in Strategic Partner for Growth CEO of Enumclaw-based PartyPail Says Acquisition Brings in Strategic Partner for Growth CEO of Enumclaw-based PartyPail Says Acquisition Brings in Strategic Partner for Growth

In the five years since Enumclaw-based first began its operations, it has grown from being run by family members in the garage of CEO Edward Hechter's home to a 29-employee company housed in an 11,000-square-foot office complex on the north side of the city.

The warehouse is in many ways at capacity and business continues to thrive, so much so that last October, PartyPail was No. 9 on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of fastest-growing private companies in Washington state. According to The Journal, the company totaled $4.43 million in sales in 2011.

That recognition was a seminal moment in the course of the company's history, according to Hechter. The business had been relatively low-key up to that point and financed completely internally; then the investors and venture capitalists starting calling.

Rather than turn them away, Hechter took a hard look at his company and came to realize that it was time to look outside if PartyPail were to continue to grow. "The larger we got, the more competitors we had competing with us, instead of us competing with them," he said.

As an e-commerce business located completely in the Pacific Northwest, PartyPail's resources were limited when it came to competing with large-scale party supply companies -- particularly those who ship from massive distribution centers in the Midwest, Hechter said.

“We've grown beyond where we really can't competitively grow the company without a strategic partner like Hoffmaster," he said.

PartyPail began in 2007 by providing supplies solely for baby showers; it currently carries 74 themes, Hechter said. In studying consumer habits, Hechter said he found that people wanted to celebrate life occasions like births and were enthralled by the chicness of Martha Stewart but wanted to pay dollar store prices.

PartyPail sought to find a medium ground. It also put together a customer care team based on the buyer's experience, which is typically a woman planning the event for another woman, Hechter said. PartyPail's 'mom squad' is comprised of trained party planners who can provide a complete and unique shopping experience for the customer.

From there, PartyPail expanded its product offerings into other event niches, including bridal and wedding showers, baby's first birthday and then adult-for-adult occasions like over-the-hill birthdays and other tongue-in-cheek products.

What they skipped over, on purpose, was the large children's birthday market because Hechter said he wanted PartyPail to focus on niches and do them well.

In a issued this week, Hoffmaster CEO Rory Leyden said, “PartyPail is one of the fastest growing retailers of specialty party supplies, and their niche approach to serving their clients, combined with outstanding customer service, makes them a great match for our product distribution needs.”

After the dust settles from the acquisition, Hechter said the adult-themed items will likely be the jumping off point for PartyPail's product expansion. Customers should not notice any difference in shopping experience from any of PartyPail's websites.

Through the end of the year, Hechter said he doesn't expect any changes to the existing office both in terms of personnel and facilities. In the long-term, the company is looking to Hoffmaster for an optimal shipping model which may affect operations and staffing at the Enumclaw location.

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