People of Holiday: Ken Sahn

Kenny

Holiday Products President Ken Sahn tiptoed his way into the adult world in the ‘80s with five trendy, risqué retail locations in major malls, which he co-owned in suburban Detroit. With retailer experience and natural people skills, Sahn’s career in wholesale distribution burgeoned as a jack-of-all trades during a long stint an adult novelty distributor.

Now as an executive at Holiday Products, Sahn employs his wealth of knowledge and industry relationships to methodically rebrand and rebuild the company as a solid distribution channel for retail stores, websites, and home party planners.

Sahn obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in business from Wayne State University before entering the retail business.

“[I graduated] never realizing that my psychology degree would be more valuable to me in business than the business degree,” Sahn said. “Even in this technological age, people are still the number one resource for businesses. Managing them properly can be the key to success or failure.”

Sahn recalls another event, in which a software company CEO spoke at a seminar on the importance of human resources that further validated his belief that business relationships are key.

“Managing employees and relationships can be very trying and difficult at times,” Sahn said. “However, it can also be extremely rewarding. Anyone can read management books and regurgitate proper techniques. To be successful you have to execute those strategies. I am lucky because it actually comes easy to me. You have to be a really good listener, have tremendous patience, treat your coworkers and employees with respect, be honest, to the point, don’t play games and most importantly lead by example through action and integrity.”

Sahn began his 19-year run at a Michigan-based adult distributor in 1990, where he served as division manager and vice president of sales and marketing. He said he was given the freedom to decide which route to take in moving the company forward after legalities restricted the sale of smoking accessories.

“I took a look at our product mix and just started adding more and more product to each category,” Sahn said. “We carried sunglasses, mugs, T-shirts, Zippo lighters, some risqué novelties and a small line of adult items. Our timing was perfect, and we rode the wave of the adult industry growth. At one time we had three catalogs: adult, risqué and gift. Our sales motto was ‘Adulting the gift world and gifting the adult world,’ and the combination worked.”

In 2009, a friendship that began as a business relationship led to an opportunity for Sahn at Holiday Products, based in Chatsworth, California.

“At the International Lingerie Shows [Holiday Products Founder and CEO] Moe Levy’s booth was always near ours and we immediately had a great, fun relationship,” Sahn said. “At some point we started talking much more. I had a lot of respect for him and what he had created with Holiday and Classic Brands but our personal friendship and camaraderie became even stronger than the business. Eventually, our wives got involved and that just solidified the relationship. I had also become very close with his son Loren who is now President of Classic Brands. So when we seriously talked about me joining Holiday Products, it was very quick and easy to make the deal.”

While spearheading the restructuring and growth of Holiday Products, Sahn said it felt like déjà vu.

“Although the times and challenges are different, this is exactly what I had done in the past,” he said. “I came into a company with a nice foundation, and I was brought on to improve upon that. In the first six months we made great strides in many areas, and but there was still a long way to go.”

Since then, Holiday has grown to stock over 8,000 items showcasing the Best of the Industry. Other changes Ken has overseen are onboarding additional Account Managers, expanding both the Purchasing and Graphics departments, implementing systems changes to streamline operations, creating a regular published catalog program, and the update to Holiday’s state-of-the-art website.

“Ultimately, I am responsible for everything that happens with Holiday Products. Specifically, I oversee the sales, purchasing and graphic arts departments. I have very competent people working with me and every day is new and fun for me.”


Excerpted from On Holiday by Ariana Rodriguez, which originally appeared on XBIZ

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