He’s trekked through swampy marshlands and explored ancient Incan ruins, yet to Caro Krissman, CAS, president of Inglewood, California-based supplier Source Abroad/ROI-Line (UPIC: roiline), nothing compares to his beloved hometown: Los Angeles. “I’m an Angelino,” he says, “and I love Los Angeles.”
Born and raised in L.A., Krissman earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California. He began a career working in the freight-forwarding and customs brokerage business helping companies—including a number of promotional products suppliers—manage their Asian imports.
In 2003, Krissman switched gears and launched his company, Source Abroad. He wanted to help distributors stay competitive and manage risk in a rapidly changing global economy.
Krissman’s wife, Ellen, whom he met 11 years ago in Costa Rica, is director of operations. She recently helped broaden the company’s reach with Awareness-Line, a line of awareness products that donates a minimum of three percent of gross sales to charity.
They’re no doubt a business-savvy duo, but Krissman says the real brains behind the operation is their standard poodle, Pilot. “Poodles are really smart,” he says.
How do you like to spend your leisure time?
I am pretty compulsive and need to work at having leisure time, but spending time with my wife, Ellen, outside the business, is a priority. Doing things outdoors, such as tennis, golf, skiing, retriever training with our dog, and finding new, interesting dining experiences all top the list.
What’s a little-known fact about you?
I worked on the assembly line at Case Logic in Boulder, Colorado, attempting to get in-state residency and go to University of Colorado, but I ended up coming back to Los Angeles and becoming a Trojan.
When did you know you wanted to work in this industry?
When I was in the freight-forwarding and customs brokerage business calling on suppliers, all my distributor buddies kept telling me about what the industry needed and how I was well-suited to fill a niche. I like niches.
What promotional product do you wish you had invented and why?
The Frisbee®. It has a large imprint area, and it can fly. Game over.
What did you learn in your first job that stuck with you?
I scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins in high school, and I learned how to make a mean banana split and write on stuff with icing. I also learned to toss ice cream in the air and catch it in the cone like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but with ice cream.
If you had a motto, what would it be?
I love action.
What’s your dream vacation destination and have you been there?
My wife and I went to Peru in 2010. We went to Machu Picchu and into the Amazon. It was at the top of our list, and it was amazing. Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is very high up there, and I expect to make that happen sometime in late 2012 when I sneak out of China one weekend. Ellen may not make that one with me.
Where do you get creative inspiration?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the diversity in architecture, art and the people in Los Angeles. We get a bad rap, but it’s not deserved. We have a lot to offer.
What drives you?
I love to compete, and I really love to win.
If you had to choose a different career, what would it be?
I think there is a big need for vocational (I know that’s a dirty word.) schools for entrepreneurs to teach people how to start businesses, what to expect and some tools to help them succeed. This can’t be accomplished with a one-day seminar. We need more people starting businesses, and I love to talk to people about their ideas.
What actor would play you in a movie about the promotional products industry and why?
Jack Nicholson. He is the only actor who is as big of a Lakers fan as me, so he gets the nod.
If your typical day was a song, what would it be?
Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.