Ron Bushman founded Info Retail in 1995. He admits that his company’s services are so distinctive, it is hard to categorize it within a particular industry group. Bushman used his background in advertising, design and brand management to start a company that connects customers to a brand and its products at the retail level.
He says they refer to themselves as a “consumer experience integration company.”
With a degree in industrial design, he left his job as director of advertising with mattress manufacturer Simmons to start the company 17 years ago.
“We started with no clients,” Bushman said. “Sometimes you have to decide that you are going to do what you want to do.”
While at Simmons, he realized that the company placed a lot of resources into advertising to build the brand, but it stopped at the retail level.
“We were not focusing on connecting with the consumer in the store,” Bushman said. Simmons is now a client.
He says initially he used freelance workers, and then hired employees as he gained clients.
Bushman said he didn’t envision the company where it is today.
“I’m happy with the way we have evolved, because we have followed the needs of our clients and the consumers,” he said.
Within 18 months of inception, the company moved into its first 12,000-square-foot office building in the Interstate North Office Park off of Windy Hill Road.
Bushman said that because the company prototypes full-size displays for clients, they outgrew their first offices and in 2002, doubled their space in the same complex. The current 24,000-square-foot office includes warehouse space, a mock-up area for prototype displays, and photo and digital areas.
Bushman believes in an open office concept. All of his 30 employees work in one large open room, rather than individual offices.
“It brings another level of interaction between people,” he said. His employees include a mix of graphic and industrial designers, project managers, account managers and construction people who build and install the displays in stores.
He says at first, a typical job was product posters for stores. Today, they create “meaningful branding displays.”
“It is a planned approach to understand all the contact points,” he said. “It brings the digital and the real life, three-dimensional spaces together in a more meaningful way.”
One recent project was a Tempur-Pedic mattress display the company created and installed in 70-plus Haverty’s furniture stores. The mattress manufacturer realized that because of the lack of privacy in the retail environment, customers were not testing their mattresses for any significant length of time.
Info Retail’s solution is a private in-store bedroom-like space that keeps customers on the mattress for eight minutes while viewing product information on multimedia applications within the room.
For client Home Depot, Info Retail has created in-store displays that allow customers to compare products from different manufacturers side-by-side.
“That is what retail should deliver,” Bushman said. “Before we started working with Home Depot, you couldn’t compare products in the same category because they did not have the same information on the different products.”
Bushman says that the company grew at an annual rate of 25 percent steadily until 2008, when they had a 20 percent downturn. Business picked back up in 2010, he said, and for 2012, the company will report in excess of $10 million in revenues.
Tom Cramer, founder and chairman of Woodstock-based executive coaching company The Brain Trust, is in a networking group with Bushman.
“Ron Bushman is a consummate business professional and a thought leader in his field of strategy and solution management for retail store merchandising and the retail customer experience,” he said.
Said Bushman: “We are working constantly to be better strategic partners with our clients and implement more intelligent solutions.”