"We like to say we're nationally known but locally owned," said Magnets USA founder Dale Turner.
"There were three cheers for Magnets USA
at the trade show," Dale Turner
said, "because there were three of us working there."
In 1990, Dale Turner
took a fascination with flexible magnetic material and transformed it into a small operation that made business card magnets.
"Instant Magnets" around the East Coast, selling mostly to real estate agents, and a year later he
ventured west on a monthlong trip to Phoenix, selling magnets the entire way.
In 1992, he
developed what was at the time a unique, magnetic padded calendar with a greeting card on the front that could be mailed cheaply.
"I tested it at a real estate show and Realtors loved it as it was the first inexpensive magnetic calendar on the market," he
The calendar doubled Magnets USA's
sales to $1 million the next year, and propelled them to $1.6 million the year after that.
While a consummate salesman -- his
first job was selling educational books and Bibles door-to-door -- Dale Turner
felt that in running a multimillion-dollar business he
"flew from the seat of my pants."
In 1996, he
brother, who had a Master's of Business Administration degree from Virginia Tech and 14 years at IBM
, to join Magnets USA
as a co-owner.
Today, Alan Turner is president and in charge of operations while Dale Turner is vice president of sales and marketing.
Catering mainly to real estate agents -- but increasingly to restaurants, schools and the medical industry -- Magnets USA
annually produces more than 20 million magnets and posts sales ranging from $7 million to $12 million, Turner
"Since the real estate market was facing a downturn, we expanded our business to address the needs of other markets such as food and hospitality, outreach and the fundraising industry," Dale Turner
Sales stabilized in 2009, and through June of this year Magnets USA's
sales are up 36 percent over the same period in 2009, said Turner
, who declined to release specific sales figures.
said that the first half of 2010 has witnessed the best January-to-June sales period in the company's 20-year history.