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January 08 69 When Jay Chryst founded the Jay Group in 1965, he focused on creating and delivering point-of-sale promotions and he targeted some of the biggest brand names in the consumer products world. Chryst had previously worked for Armstrong Cork Company, now Armstrong World Industries, where his job required him to call on the world’s top automakers and original equipment makers. “So he was comfortable working with Fortune 1000 companies,” says Dana Chryst, Jay’s daughter and now the owner and CEO of the company. Before long, Jay Chryst had convinced executives at companies such as Campbell’s Soup, Goodyear Tire, Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and Scott Paper to entrust him with the job of boosting their promotional efforts. More than four decades later, that approach has proved to be the foundation of years of strong growth. “That’s been our charter from the start. We’ve always targeted large companies,” says Dana Chryst. “That decision contributed to our ability to grow rapidly, not only because the customers have great purchasing power, but because we were servicing best-in-class companies we had to be best at what we do well. Serving the best has The Jay Group began targeting top-tier corporations right out of the gate more than 40 years ago. That approach continues to pay dividends for this fast-growing promotions firm, as Keith Regan learns from owner and CEO Dana Chryst TheJayGroup Topshelfservice

70 Janurary 08 made us a better company.” Today, 42 years after Jay Chryst began peddling promotional materials from the trunk of his car, the Lancaster, Pennsylvaniabased Jay Group is a $65 million-a-year operation that provides marketing services through three business units. One operates a contact center to provide customer service and support through both telephone and e-mail. A second is a specialty packaging division that creates promotional packaging and in-store displays to help attract consumer attention. The third offers fulfillment services to handle collateral and product to support field sales organizations and dealer networks, as well as fulfilling requests for other consumer and/or retail promotional offers. The Jay Group is also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), as defined by the US government. Chryst says the company prides itself in providing invaluable assistance to a corporation’s sales machine, help that a variety of consumer companies have sought out, from iRobot Corporation to Heineken USA, CertainTeed to Absolut Spirits Company and Reebok International to Lindt & Sprungli Chocolates. Because it offers a turnkey solution, and has developed an expertise in working with advertising and marketing agencies to ensure that creative campaigns can be executed in the real world, The Jay Group has benefited from the trend among major corporations to outsource non-core functions. “The outsourcing trend has been going on for years. Now we’re seeing the second cycle of the outsourcing experience, where companies are coming to us after experiences that weren’t necessarily good,” Chryst says. “We are fully integrated into our client’s marketing databases in many cases,” says Chryst. The company maintains a dedicated, c l i m a t e - c o n t r o l l e d information technology center with emergency backup capabilities. “We have the ability to seamlessly manage a variety of consumer and trade programs in real time through our leading business management systems. Timeliness, accuracy and care of that data are critical. The people that just have their toes dipped into this business as a sideline haven’t kept up with the investment necessary to deliver that top shelf service.” The Jay Group has invested heavily to attract and retain the best employees. After being a well-kept secret in Lancaster County for decades, the company launched a public relations campaign about five years ago to boost its profile. “We knew we were seeing rapid growth and would need to recruit a lot of people,” Chryst recalls. Before long, the firm was winning awards, including being named one of the best places to work in Pennsylvania, four years in a row. “We became a top-of-mind company for people thinking of places to go to work. We were able to create some real buzz about the positive things we stand for.” Once it finds good workers (the company employs about 500 people full-time) The Jay Group works to keep them through training and career pathing. Its Jay University offers a range of classes, recently adding an accredited course in supervision and management. In 2008 the company will move into a new facility,