2023 Top Suppliers: How Ariel Premium Maintained Deep Stock to Stay Resilient
As part of Print & Promo Marketing's 2023 Top Suppliers list, we asked some of the top-ranked suppliers about how they managed to continue their growth throughout the uncertainty that has still loomed over 2021 and 2022.
Read on for our conversation with Yuhling Lu, co-CEO of Ariel Premium Supply, the No. 11 supplier on our list. Or, download the full Top Suppliers resource for the complete interviews, detailed stats and analysis for the Top Suppliers list, and results of our 2023 Supplier Excellence Awards
Ariel Premium Supply - No. 11
2022 sales: $90,424,484
480 employees, two locations
Established in 1993
If there were any silver linings during the pandemic, one of them was that it gave businesses ample time to plan and assess their weak points and strong points, and become more aware of variables that had never popped up before.
Yuhling Lu, co-CEO of Ariel Premium Supply, says the pandemic years prompted the supplier to really plan for the future and position itself in a way that inventory would seldom, if ever, be a problem for its distributor customers. Part of the planning also entailed looking at what products worked and what customers would want when marketing budgets returned to full strength. What they found were the two ends of the cost spectrum.
“We have seen a growth combination of product sales where the sales of inexpensive ‘promotional’ items and also higher-end ‘gift’ items are growing at the same time for us,” Lu says. “For example, we have seen the sales of both our stress relievers and our electronic items grow specifically.”
Some distributors and suppliers might think that it was an either/or thing, where people either move on from the “cheaper” handout items in favor of more bespoke gifting, but Lu and Ariel’s findings point to an industry where there is room for both ideas.
What They Focused On: Lu says that, like many other suppliers, having inventory stocked was a major difference-maker. It was sometimes as simple as having the product a distributor wanted. So, Ariel made sure it could provide that. From there, Ariel wanted to bolster its production capacity, reflecting on the staffing and labor issues from 2020 and beyond.
“Like many suppliers, quality labor is in short supply,” Lu says. “And while inventories have improved, we still had to focus on people to do the work. … We have continued plans for facilities expansion, improved sustainability efforts, and new brands introduction.”
A Greener Future: Environmentalism is the topic of many an industry conversation anymore. Lu says that a focus on sustainability and environmental friendliness in promo has become a main focus for Ariel.
“Other focus areas for us have been on more sustainability efforts, including production efficiencies, reducing or reusing packaging materials, and improving the facilities. In addition, we have a new focus on more sustainable products, which are selling and growing.”