StrombergBrand (asi/89955), the family-owned-and-operated umbrella supplier in Valley Cottage, NY, has a new vice president, but she’s someone clients will already recognize. Jennifer Stromberg, granddaughter of the company’s founder, has long been the “face of the brand” – appearing on the cover of catalogs, in product shots, ads and email blasts for years.
Jennifer Stromberg has acted as the face of StrombergBrand for several years, appearing on catalog covers and in advertisements. Now, she’s joining the family-owned-and-operated brand formally as vice president.
Now, she joins the family business in a more formal capacity, in charge of strategic planning and setting growth objectives.
“Jennifer has always been informally involved in the business,” said Helen Stromberg, president of StrombergBrand’s parent company The Hudson Valley Umbrella Co., of her daughter. “We felt this was the right time to have her join us full time. We have seen considerable growth over the past several years, and with Jennifer helping to take our operations to the next level, the sky’s the limit.”
Jennifer Stromberg spoke with ASI about what it’s like to represent the third generation of a family company and how her experience working in marketing for Fortune 500 firms has helped prepare her for this new role.
Jennifer Stromberg, vice president of StrombergBrand, and her mother, Helen, StrombergBrand president, collaborate during a product development meeting.
Q: How does it feel to be formally joining the family company?
Jennifer Stromberg: This company was started by my grandfather back in 1942, and my father worked with him until my grandfather passed away. My mother joined my father later, and she helped build the business into what it is today. I sometimes tell people that I was “born onto a pile of umbrellas,” but even if that’s not exactly true, I definitely was rolling umbrellas at 8 years old (it’s all in the wrist!) and attending trade shows when I was 10. So, the business has always been a big part of my life. I feel privileged to have spent the past 15 years of my career at some fantastic companies, but I always believed I could add value by returning to the company after learning how business and marketing was done elsewhere.
Q: How has your experience up to this point prepared you for this role?
JS: My career thus far has been in marketing and advertising global corporations, such as PepsiCo and HP. I’ve held U.S.-based as well as international roles and worked across brand management, product management and all areas of the marketing mix.
Brand and product should always be in the forefront of our minds in the promotions business. Our jobs are to help our customers develop a deeper brand relationship with their customers and to create beautiful, innovative products that people need and love. The possibilities through the digital world, progress in manufacturing and technology make this an amazing time to be in our industry.
Q: What kind of perspective do you bring as the third generation of family executives in the company?
JS: I think the third generation of a family business has a unique responsibility: to push the envelope for growth and innovation, while also respecting the company’s traditional values. By taking control of the strategic planning for company, I’ll be looking at where there’s opportunity to change and be better – whether that’s the products we manufacture or the systems we use daily. While all that is very important, it’s equally important to me that our company continues with what it has provided for decades: the best quality, prices and customer service.
Q: What does the future hold for StrombergBrand?
JS: Our business has seen amazing growth in recent years, and we are implementing strategies to continue on that path. Umbrellas have never been more in demand. We’ve had a leadership role in raising awareness about their strength and perceived value in our promotional market, and we continue to build and maintain our strong working relationships in the industry.
I also believe in staying ahead of the curve. I’ll be keeping an eye toward trends in marketing, commercialization, manufacturing and technology as the future of our dynamic industry unfolds.