Making Money With Technology

Hughes Enterprises Combines Technology With the Human Touch

October 2, 2008

  • Adrienne Szewczyk Adrienne Szewczyk

How does a family company that started in 1950 keep pace with changes in its industry and adapt the way it does business to serve a nationwide market? Ask Neal Magaziner and Stephen Polin, who today run Hughes Enterprises, the company their uncle and founder Max Polin started more than five decades ago. Hughes Enterprises is a wholesale supplier of packaging materials, equipment and systems to businesses across the country. That wasn’t always the case, though. Before the firm adopted new technologies, they were more limited in their ability to reach distant clients.

Hughes adopted a couple of strategies to become successful in a national marketplace. First, they became a member of Afflink, a sales and marketing organization that helps create links between distributors and suppliers of packaging supplies (among other things). Afflink’s electronic resources made it possible for Hughes, based in Trenton, New Jersey, to work efficiently with a customer on the West Coast. They simply turned to the electronic network at Afflink to find a local distributor who can handle the job. Magaziner says that the common billing system at Afflink kept the books straight, and throughout the process, Hughes was able to provide personal service for their customer.

Although Magaziner does lay much of the credit for his firm’s success at the doorstep of technology, the company doesn’t jump up to adopt every new technological gadget on the market, assuming it will improve sales or relations with their customers. Today, the company uses a cutting-edge e-commerce website to maintain close electronic ties with their business-to-business customers. Hughes’s emphasis on customer service and solutions, rather than on sales alone, makes this electronic communications link a vital component of the firm’s success.

Magaziner considers his company’s consulting services to be the detail that sets Hughes Enterprises apart from their competitors. For customers who take part in their Alliance program, company representatives will take a look at the customer’s packaging needs, help the customer put an appropriate packaging system in place, and ensure that they have necessary supplies in inventory all the time. They save their customers money, which helps to strengthen the relationships Hughes has developed with their clients.

Today, Hughes maintaines sales offices in 10 regional offices throughout the country, while their online sales system allows customers to review an order history, place an order, and track or cancel a current order. Customers have access to an efficient catalog ordering system, combined with the attentions of Hughes’s skilled staff, which makes for a virtually unbeatable arrangement. In addition, Hughes hosts a Packaging Expo annually to showcase the latest innovations in packaging technology.