Get To Know The Man Behind BDA
Caring seems to come naturally to Jay Deutsch, CEO and co-founder of Woodinville, Washington-based distributor Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, LLC. When longtime BDA employee Susan Brockert was murdered as a result of domestic violence on a BDA company trip to Hawaii in May 2012, Deutsch was one of the first people who arrived at Brockert’s hotel room.
Deutsch describes how it would have been easier to back away from the situation, to run away from it; however, he and his childhood best friend and co-founder Eric Bensussen have what they call a “run into it” philosophy. “The ‘run into it’ philosophy means facing challenges head on and viewing obstacles as opportunities,” Deutsch says.
“While Susan’s death was an unspeakable tragedy, it created an opportunity for us to come together and work toward eradicating domestic violence for good.”
The incident moved Deutsch and others at BDA to found the BDA Cares Foundation, whose mission is to develop partnerships and programs with fellow nonprofits that share the commitment to ending domestic violence and to finding a cure for ovarian cancer.
In 2013, Deutsch was featured in an episode of ABC’s reality TV show, Secret Millionaire, in which self-made businesspeople spend a week in the country’s poorest areas and ultimately gift unsung community heroes with donations. Deutsch was dispatched to Phoenix, where he spent six days volunteering and learning about community organizations that care. He even volunteered as a barista for a coffee shop whose profits go toward helping survivors of domestic violence.
The only bad part about the experience was having to be apart from his family for six days. “I miss my family terribly,” Deutsch said on the TV show. “The fact that I can’t talk to my family bugs me the most.” Clearly, Deutsch is a man who cares deeply—about his family, his company and his employees. What goes around, comes around for Jay Deutsch.
BDA In The Big League
Founded in 1984 by Deutsch and Bensussen, BDA now has more than 500 employees worldwide, including domestic branch offices in Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and New York City as well as overseas offices in Manila, Philippines; Shenzhen, China; and London, England.
“Eric and I started BDA with an idea and a phone call to the Seattle Seahawks back in 1984,” Deutsch says. “What started as a hobby turned into something bigger once we understood the power of branded merchandise. I don’t think we could have grasped then that BDA would become a global merchandise company. But we knew that our passion for this business was something that couldn’t be ignored.”
Today, Fortune 100 brands like AT&T, ExxonMobil, Bank of America and FedEx—along with major sports leagues like the NBA, MLB and NFL—come to BDA for help in developing their branded merchandise campaigns. What’s the secret behind BDA’s success?
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” Deutsch says. “When Fortune 1,000 companies, major sports organizations and entertainment properties trust you with their brands, there is no cutting corners. What I realized along the way is that a good leader surrounds himself or herself with a great team. It makes daily operations better and fosters an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Staying ahead of the competition is part of what makes BDA such a legend in success. In 2008, long before most companies in the industry, BDA attained the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certification and launched the non-profit Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) organization in support of the industry’s advanced quality assurance practices for importing products overseas.
Differentiating In The Marketplace
Today, nine years later, this C-TPAT certification has become one of the distributor’s key differentiators in the marketplace. How did Deutsch realize that investing in things like compliance in social responsibility and product safety would pay off in the end? “For BDA, this was a no-brainer,” he says. “Part of what we love about branded merchandise is the positive, impactful experience consumers have with the brand. If quality becomes a concern, we all lose. When we became C-TPAT certified and founded QCA, we knew that it was an investment in the future of our company and the future of the industry.”
This year, BDA is once again growing its revenue, attributing much of the success to organic growth with new client acquisitions and contract extensions—some of which include the NBA, NFL, PACCAR [a diesel engine manufacturer], GM and MLB. “2017 is off to a momentous start with many opportunities in the works,” Deutsch says. “Looking to 2018, we believe we are well-positioned for more profound hyper-growth than ever in our history.”
In July, BDA acquired distributor SwervePoint, a Boston-based promotional merchandise firm. With the acquisition, BDA significantly expanded its Boston operations and extends service offerings for both company clients. The acquisition is the latest in BDA’s strategic expansion efforts in the U.S., Europe and overseas markets. “We identified SwervePoint because their business philosophies and client relationships directly aligned with BDA,” Deutsch says. “This opportunity will provide us with the ability to grow our business while better serving our East Coast-based clients, such as the Boston Red Sox. This marks the beginning [of new growth] as BDA looks toward other opportunities in the U.S. and Europe as a path toward continued expansion.”
On The Horizon
Deutsch sees a number of trends influencing the promotional products industry in the future. “Technology is always on the top of my mind as I consider the future of BDA,” he says.
“In our constantly connected world, BDA is factoring in how technology can impact the future of branded merchandise.”
Owning such a successful business has taught Deutsch about himself and others as well. “You can’t be everything to everyone all the time,” he says. “Success is really about identifying the right people to partner with and giving them the tools to succeed. Your business is only as successful as the team you build.”
If you could boil down this business owner’s essence into one word, it would be passion. He is passionate about his family, his business, his employees and all the people whose lives he touches. His advice for others who want to live their dreams as an entrepreneur is inspiring. “Find your passion and do whatever it takes to make it a reality,” Deutsch says. “Regardless of what you are doing, if you do it with passion, everything else will follow.”
Brittany Glenn is a Dallas, Texas-based writer and a former PPB associate editor.