Bill Georges, Active International

Bill Georges

Editors' Choice

As President of Sales and Operations, Bill Georges is responsible for revenue growth at Active and brings more than 17 years marketing, advertising, and sales leadership experience to the company. Prior to joining Active in 2007, he was Senior Vice President, Advertising nd Affiliate Sales for Comcast Networks.

Company Brief

Pearl River, New York-based Active International (www.activeinternational.com) is recognized as the global leader in corporate trade, providing financial benefits to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry. Founded 27 years ago, the company acquires excess assets – including surplus inventory, real estate, and capital equipment – at up to full wholesale value in exchange for cash and/or a trade credit, which is used to offset future operating expenses. Active has led the industry in the development of new standards of excellence for the acquisition of assets, the effective remarketing of those assets, and the provision of an efficient means for its clients to use their trade credits. With offices in 16 countries, Active has created more than $1.5 billion in cash savings for its extensive client base since 1984.

Does the market understand the range of solutions that Active offers and how the business has grown?

When you talk about offerings, there’s the product side, which includes media, travel, freight and logistics, and retail marketing, and the solution side where we can help people with business needs such as driving incremental sales, financing capital expenditures, exiting sponsorship obligations, and decreasing carrying costs. Our model enables us to offer solutions for all those things.

I don’t think the marketplace is as aware of what we have beyond media. Some of that is because those areas are still growing for us and some of it is because whenever you talk about corporate trade or barter, people like to put it into that media box since historically that’s what corporate trade companies, including Active, have focused on. But it has changed. Every day, we’re looking at opportunities to partner with digital, hospitality, freight, and retail marketing; companies that will take and can utilize trade credits as payment for services.

Do you need to be dealing high up in those companies for that relationship?

Our business would not be what it is if it weren’t for our ability to drive results. Having relationships with the people who have total P&L responsibility and can share a company-wide view of what they need allows us to change the dynamic from a transaction to a relationship, and that’s when companies see the most value.

You provide value both in boom times and down times?

Certainly during difficult times, people are looking for a short-term solution and we help them with those needs. However, our value is not limited to short-term solutions. When we can become part of our client’s business planning, that’s when they are able to gain incremental benefits. For example, one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face is determining how much to produce. We helped one of our long-term clients, a leading lawn and garden company, address this issue by functioning as a “safety net” for them. They produce what they need in a best case scenario and if the weather impacts the sale of a particular product, we take that excess off their hands. In return, they place a portion of their media through us. This goes well beyond the transactional barter model and is effective in a good or bad economy.

How much of a focus is overseas growth?

In the states, some of the largest growth opportunities are in industries that haven’t typically looked at barter, such as insurance and finance. Globally, we are growing our existing footprint and expanding into the BRIC countries, with the most focus on Brazil and China, and we’re keeping our eye on Russia and India.

Is the competitive landscape changing?

New companies are entering the space as people finally recognize the value of corporate trade or barter, and that is helpful. The difficulty is when you have a lot of companies joining the space that don’t fully understand how to trade or create that value. I worry that the real corporate trade model might get diminished and I worry about companies that say they’re a corporate trade company but are not really trading. But with competitors, products tend to improve and that’s good for the industry.•