Owners: Guy and Deb Lombardi and their "office dog" Toby.
You could say the folks at Midwest Marketing Associates are matchmakers of sorts. The manufacturers’ representative group brings together manufacturers who have a product to sell and retailers who want to sell that product.
“We help vendors market their products in retail,” said Guy Lombardi, who with his wife Deb, owns the company located at 3934 West River Drive in downtown Comstock Park. He said their sales and marketing firm specializes in working with suppliers to “help them understand the expectations of retail customers.”
When the Lombardi’s bought the business in January 2012, ninety-five percent of the goods they represented were pet products, said Guy Lombardi. The couple wanted to diversity their business. Guy Lombardi was a buyer at Meijer for 28 years before buying Midwest Marketing Associates. His experience at Meijer was in home and kitchen products, garden products, and electronics, and the Lombardi’s wanted to capitalize on that background. They now represent a wide array of products for inside and outside the home that includes everything from garden items such as lawn ornaments and outdoor fire pits, to small appliances such as coffee pots and slow cookers, to health and beauty products, energy drinks, and team sports items. One of their vendors is a light bulb manufacturer, and another is an organic baby food manufacturer. Pet products are now just fifty of their business. Currently their customers are in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.
The company was founded by a Meijer executive in 2000 and was located on Northland Drive near the intersection with Beltline and Plainfield. Deb Lombardi, an 18-year Meijer employee, was an administrative assistant at Meijer headquarters when she joined Midwest Marketing Associates in 2005. After they bought the company and began expanding their clients and products, the Lombardi’s needed more space for displaying those products and hosting meetings with vendors and retailers. They moved into their current building, the former Comstock Park Foods grocery store that had been revamped into office space. They rent the 3500 square foot lower level of the building where they made some changes creating display areas, meeting rooms, and office space their clients can use to conduct business. Their new digs were a perfect fit.
“The location serves us very well,” said Guy Lombardi. “Our vendors love the space…the expressway is nearby…there are restaurants for our clients.”
When the Lombardi’s bought the business there were three employees including them. There are now four full-time employees, including their son Patrick, a Davenport University graduate, who is their primary sales person and two part-time employees. Guy Lombardi is the sales manager, while Deb Lombardi is the office manager and oversees vendor relations. They rely on word of mouth for advertising.
The services Midwest Marketing Associates offer their clients involve keeping an eye on trends. They attend trade shows to learn about new products, colors, and styles that are in vogue. They meet vendors, visit vendors’ showrooms. They keep track of product sales, performance, and reviews. They also get firsthand knowledge of many of the products they market by trying them at home, said Deb Lombardi.
The Lombardi’s are both from Norton Shores where Guy’s parents owned an Italian restaurant for 42 years. They both graduated from Mona Shores High School and studied marketing in college. They live in Ada and have two grown sons. When they’re not busy working, they like to spend time with family, ski, golf and travel. Pictures they took while in Tuscany and Hawaii hang in the front windows of their building.