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Reading Eagle Interview

Mail Shark Sees Exponential Growth

As featured in the Reading Eagle, August 27th, 2012

Mail Shark President, Brian JohnsonFour years ago, Brian H. Johnson, 32, Birdsboro, had a discussion with an Allentown pizzeria owner who expressed what he thought was wrong with marketing in the pizza business.

Johnson then developed a marketing program for the pizza shop and soon began to sell the idea to other pizzeria owners.

At the time, Johnson owned a marketing and advertising franchise, Money Mailer.

But the unique marketing niche led Johnson to start his own company, now known as Mail Shark.

The company is poised to take in over $4 million in revenue in 2012.

Brian Johnson and John John DackweilerWith numbers like that, it should come as no surprise that Inc. magazine ranked Mail Shark as No. 368 on its 2012 Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

Johnson attributed the amazing success and growth of the company to two factors.

The first is the unique marketing approach.

“Studies have shown that direct mail outperforms social media marketing when it comes to pizza shops,” Johnson explained. “Pizza-shop owners want to mail out their menus to local residents but find the task too expensive.”

Mail Shark makes it easier for the pizza shops to do that.

Rather than mail 10,000 pieces all at once in one huge mail blitz, Mail Shark takes the menus and spreads out the mailing over a 10-week period.

MailersThe pizza shops get the benefit of new business from weekly mailings, and payment for the service also is spread out over the 10 weeks.

Mail Shark has more than 1,000 pizza shops from 42 states as clients.

“We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, as there are 75,000 pizza shops in the United States today,” Johnson said.

Although the marketing technique could work for other industries, Johnson said the company remains focused on its niche.

“We’ve become experts in their particular marketing needs,” he said.

Mail Shark Building 2012The second growth factor came in October, when the company relocated from a house in Mount Penn to a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Cumru Township.

Until then, the company had outsourced all of its printing to Houston. But with the added square footage, it had the space for printing equipment. It purchased $1 million worth to begin production of its marketing materials in-house.

Along with the new printing presses came new jobs.

“Our goal was to add 17 jobs within three years,” Johnson explained. “But we actually added 17 jobs in six months. We went from six employees to 23.

“I am a graduate of Exeter High School, and it’s a really cool thing to be able to bring jobs back to this area.”

New Press 2012Cumru Township Manager Jeanne E. Johnston said Mail Shark is doing a great thing for the community by creating jobs.

“Investment by the business community is an investment in the local people,” she said.

Johnson said he credits his staff for the company’s success.

“I really have to give credit to our team,” he explained. “I took on a whole production side in which I had no experience. A great team allows us to grow.”

Johnson said he likely will be adding another 15 employees as the business grows.

He estimates the company will realize $10 million in revenue in 2013.

“I am still surprised by this every single day,” Johnson admitted. “It’s so hard to believe that this could happen in three years.”

Contact David A. Kostival: 610-371-5049 or money@readingeagle.com.