The Philosophy Behind BAMKO’s Phenomenal Growth
Promo is a growth story. Industry sales climbed 15.6% year-over-year to a record $25.5 billion in PPAI’s 2022 Sales Volume Estimate. It’s a robust market and promo companies are doing well. And then there’s BAMKO (PPAI 242148, D11), which is moving at warp speed.
Los Angeles-based BAMKO is No. 4 on the inaugural PPAI 100 distributor list. It earned its spot for a range of accomplishments – revenue, innovation, employee happiness and more – as well as a blistering pace of growth. Over the past three years, BAMKO’s sales have grown almost three-fold, at a rate almost twice that of the company that came in second.
What’s the secret sauce behind that growth? PPAI Media spoke with Joshua White, head of strategy and general counsel at BAMKO, about what’s going on at the company. He shared a window into the attitude and philosophy behind the promo success story.
PPAI Media: Generally speaking, how has BAMKO grown so rapidly?
Joshua White: To me, it always comes back to philosophy. It’s the only thing about our business that hasn’t changed in the last 10 years.
We’ve been militant in how consistently we’ve applied our core business principles to the growth and management of this company. For us, that means focusing on the process and recognizing that if we build really great things, the scoreboard takes care of itself.
We’ve never been focused on outcomes. Instead, we’ve been obsessed with the inputs that make for a great business. We trust that clients will be eager to give their business to a great company that does great work. To do that well, we’ve needed to attract world class talent in an industry that often struggles to do so. The best way to do that is to create a culture that talented people want to be a part of and provide them with the opportunity to work with other A-players.
Great talent does great work. Great work attracts great clients, and the cycle perpetuates itself from there.
PPAI Media: Where have the biggest gains come from? Acquisitions and attracting independents to the network? How many sellers are there now compared to where you were three years ago?
White: The growth has been a healthy mix of organic business growth, acquisitions and new sales reps coming into the fold. People would be very surprised to learn how small our sales force is relative to our overall revenue.
PPAI Media: How do you help them grow their businesses once they’re in the fold?
White: At BAMKO, the biggest challenge new sales reps have is figuring out how to spend all of the time that we put back into their day. Seriously. The default structure for most companies in this industry essentially forces most sales reps into a reactive order taking role. That dog don’t hunt here.
We have to be very selective about who we allow to come onboard, because a typical industry sales rep can come face to face with a near-existential crisis when presented with the opportunity to spend their time selling only to realize that’s not actually who they are or what they want to do.
We combine a fundamentally different and better support structure with a team-based approach to selling that allows our reps to lean on a deep bench of subject matter experts to go attack and win opportunities that are the right fit for our business.
PPAI Media: What’s the outlook and trajectory from here?
White: This year, we’re laser focused on bolstering the core capabilities and building the infrastructure we need to continue to create competitive advantages well into the future. We’re going deep into tech in ways that no one else is. We’re making sizable capital investments into critical infrastructure. We’re investing in critical high-level hires that will make every part of the business better.
We are in the very fortunate position to be able to take a long-time horizon approach to building our business. That allows us to make infrastructure and technology investments whose benefits compound over time. We trust that by putting the work in today, we’re going to be thrilled with the results we see tomorrow.