In 1966 Max Scharf founded Incentives Corp. a promotional products/sales promotion agency.Mr. Scharf was the sole shareholder of that company.In 1968 he sold 60% of the company to D’Arcy Advertising, a 400 million dollar advertising agency, and an additional 20% was sold to them in 1969.Mr. Scharf served as Chairman & CEO of that subsidiary, working with D’Arcy’s nationwide offices and clients such as Anheuser-Busch, McDonalds, Cadillac and Southwestern Bell.In 1969 Scharf, through Incentives Corp., purchased K-Studio, a screen-printing company that supplied printed T-shirts.It was in that year that Max Scharf introduced printed apparel as a supplier to the promotional products market and produced Budweiser’s first Bud-Man t-shirts.
In1972 Mr. Scharf led an asset purchase of Incentives Corp. from D’Arcy Advertising.Following the purchase, Incentives Corp. was renamed Max Scharf, Inc. and subsequently renamed Diversified Graphics, LTD. Mr. Scharf served as Chairman & CEO. At that time the D.G. Sportswear division was created to serve the mass merchant and department store markets and the company became a multi million-dollar supplier to Sears of imprinted shirts for their boys departments.The promotional products/sales promotion agency was sold in 1976 to concentrate on the supplier manufacturing business (K-Studio & D. G. Sportswear) serving the promotional products and consumer printed apparel markets. During this time frame the company became the largest supplier of printed shirts, jackets and caps to Anheuser –Busch. Mr. Scharf was the lead company contact to Sears and Anheuser-Busch. During the period of 1972 through 1990, the company grew from $600 thousand to $17.8 million in annual sales (USD), 60% in promotional products and premium areas and 40% to retail customers (department stores and mass merchants) selling screen printed T-shirts and activewear. In 1981 the company purchased a cut and sew facility in Columbus, Georgia to take control of both quality and delivery of its primary products (T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, etc.).The acquisition was a good strategic fit since it gave Diversified Graphics the flexibility and cost advantage it needed to compete in its markets and maintain its margins.The sewing operation was also trained in fleece products (tops and bottoms) and infant-wear that improved the company’s ability to service its customer base. In 1982 the company partnered with a Chinese company to open a trading firm in Hong Kong to service promotional products customers worldwide. One of Mr. Scharf’s functions in the venture was to negotiate, with his Chinese partner, quotas with Chinese government officials. Mr. Scharf maintained a high profile in the promotional products market.He served on the Board of Directors of the Promotional Products Association International.Mr. Scharf was also a member of the Long Range Planning Committee, C.A.S. Committee and Sales Institutes Committee. He was Chairman of the Education Committee and the Premium Education Committee, and taught for twelve years on Program Selling in the Certified Advertising Specialist Program for the trade association at the University of Wisconsin.He was a keynote speaker at many regional associations and distributor functions. In 1985 Max Scharf received the highly coveted Counselor Magazine “Person of the Year” award.He was credited with starting the imprinted wearable segment of the promotional products market, which now consists of 30% of the 18 billion dollar market. In 1986 Mr. Scharf graduated from the Owner President Management Program at the Graduate School of Business, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1989 the company sold K-Studio (its supplier division to the promotional products market), at a profit, to Penn Corporation, a subsidiary of Western Publishing.The asset purchase of inventory and some equipment left the company with excess capacity in both plants and a two-year non-compete provision, as a supplier, in the promotional product market.Mr. Scharf’s non-compete provision in the promotional products marketplace expired in November 1991. The sale appeared to be sound, in that it relieved the company of substantial debt, inventory and operational costs allowing the company to expand i presence in the department store and mass merchant markets with its patented product.Unfortunately the company was forced to close operations at the end of 1990 when its lender, the Bank of New England, became insolvent and called in the company’s loans. Since 1991 Scharf has operated a successful Management and Marketing consulting practice, Scharf & Associates.www.scharfandassociates.com . He is also an accomplished Impressionist Painter with his paintings selling in the $10,000-up range. (Elected a Signature Member and a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society in 1994).
Max Scharf has continued to maintain a high profile in the promotional products market through serving on PPAI committees and interaction at trade show functions.
Consulting clients of Mr. Scharf, for the promotional products market have included a large branded children’s wear company, a major branded t-shirt manufacturer, a holographic products supplier, a multi-product supplier, a key chain and pen supplier, a Hong Kong cap company, a Japanese calendar company, a “Fortune 200” company and a Cayman Island holding company. In addition to clients in the promotional products market, Mr. Scharf has helped an insurance company with preparing a 5 year business plan and a capital funding request, identified joint venture partners for an Asian company, started successful U.S. corporation, hired personnel, developed product line for a large Cayman Island holding company and assisted a large screen printing company in the acquisition of a 150 million dollar competitor. Additional Achievements ·Certified Advertising Specialist ·Served as a St. Louis Ambassador (Mayor’s group) ·Served as a U. S. Delegate, People to People Economic Development Conference in Beijing, China ·Cited in publications and other media such as Impressions Magazine, Counselor Magazine, Promotional Products Magazine, St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal, Screen Printing Magazine, ABC ·TV, NBC TV, The Book of Inventions and Discoveries (1994 French edition), U.S. Art, Art Business News, and the nationwide wire service ofthe Associated Press. ·Named “One of the Industry’s 50 Most Influential People” (Counselor Magazine – April 2004) ·Credited with creating “One of the Five Innovations That Changed The Industry” (Counselor Magazine– April 2004) Imprinted T-Shirts. ·Honorable Discharge – U.S. Army, Korean War ·Married (42 years) – 2 Sons ·Missouri State Racquetball Champion & Ranked 6th in U.S. Masters, Gold Medal, Senior Olympics in Racquetball (1980’ & 1990’s) ·Recipient of the United Cerebral Palsy 1997 Gratitude Award ·University Lecturer – “The Business Part of The Artist’s World”
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