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Neal Magaziner & Hughes Enterprises
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Hughes has met these obstacles head-on, not only by keeping on top of the competition, but by shifting the idea of his business away from a simple wholesale model to a more service-oriented, customer centered philosophy.

"I think we address these challenges as much as possible by trying to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Every day I wake up, I try to think about how we are different from everyone else who does what we do, and try to develop strategies and ideas that will help us differentiate ourselves.

"We were founded as a company that sells products, but today we want to look at ourselves as having more reliance on services and solutions. Rather than walk in to a client and say `This is what we sell and we´ll quote you a price,´ we walk in with a more consultative approach and find out what areas they´re having issues with in regards to packaging and solve those problems for them. Because once we solve those problems for them, they really want to turn that business over to us. Rather than walk in and say `We want your business with supplies´ we walk in and say `We´re here to help you.´ It´s a different focus for us today."

Their ability to apply their consultative approach far beyond their back yard has been greatly expanded by their participation in a national affiliate network called Afflink. Founded in 1977, Afflink acts as both a buying and selling network that enables distributors and suppliers to more effectively transact business, develop innovative business solutions, gain new customers, and increase profitability.

"Afflink joins together a variety of suppliers which provide businesses like mine and links those people or companies with member distribution companies. There are about 400 members across America. The beauty of this Afflink relationship is that, years ago, we would walk into a company and they would say `Well, we´d love to do business with you, but we´ve got a location in Dallas and a location in Seattle-- can you handle those locations?´ and we´d have to walk away because there was no way we could handle them as a local company. Now we say absolutely! We turn it back over to Afflink and they pull in distributors from those particular areas and tie it all together through a common billing system. All the distributor members are still independently owned, so if you´re a member of Afflink, you´ve got the best of both worlds.

But even growth can come at a cost. A successful business creates new challenges-- Employees, and even the top brass, can soon find themselves overextended, as Neal found out over the summer.


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