Independent, national sales rep group Continental Sales Inc. has jut finished celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary.
Headquartered in Barrington, Ill., CSI was founded in 1997 by Terry Wybel, a veteran of Kroch’s and Brentano’s bookstore in Chicago who also established the Midwestern regional Wybel Marketing Group in 1972. CSI employs 25 reps and account managers throughout the U.S., and offers clients access to 101 gift and specialty market sales reps for sideline buys. The group fulfills orders through its distribution partner, the National Book Network.
Ron Prazuch came to Wybel Marketing Group in 1990, stayed for the transition to CSI, and is now president and Midwest regional sales manager. He has seen CSI' s growth from the ground up. “We originally wanted to be a national sales force, and we started getting knocks on the door from people overseas,” Prazuch says. “A lot of accounts were looking for a conduit to the U.S.” The group’s eclectic offerings now include Langenscheidt, U.K.-based indies Blackspring Press Group and EnvelopeBooks, Italian stationery publisher Cartiere Paola Pigna S.p.A., Paperblanks, and Dingbats Notebooks. They also deal in Carousel Calendars, Marco Polo Maps, New In Chess products, and Scientific Publishing flashcards.
“Our goal is to grow a bit more and maintain our relationships with small and midsize publishers,” Prazuch said. “We manage a relatively small corral of publishers, and we can spend a lot of time handholding and consulting right now” in bookstores and museum shops.