Advertising, Marketing & PR and Retail

Lynch Sales Co. marks 100 years of consulting with clients

Despite a global reach, family ownership remains the company’s foundation.

May 2, 2014
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JP Lynch
In the early days, the company promoted its “retail sales engineers.” Courtesy Judson Lynch

This year marks a century that Lynch Sales Co. has been in business.

The Grand Rapids promotional sales firm, known nationwide for its accomplishments for its furniture-based clients, celebrated its 100-year anniversary in March — a feat that has made Judson Lynch, the company’s co-CEO, proud of his family and his staff.

Even with 100 years of history under its belt, it’s still a fight for every deal, he said. Lynch Sales has kept up the good fight by always staying one step ahead of its clients by using new technology and listening to the perspectives of its younger employees, he said.

“We feel that we need to be a step ahead of our clients, and we always have been. It’s amazing how many retail stores are behind the times in the furniture industry, and simple business protocol,” he said. “We like to set people up so, when we leave, they’ll stay in business for a while, and we have a list of repeat clients.”

The story of the Lynch family’s long-lasting business, which works in helping retailers conduct and promote sales, began in 1914 when it was founded at 154 Louis St. NW in downtown Grand Rapids by family patriarch Joseph Patrick Lynch.

Lynch, nicknamed JP, used to come from New York to Grand Rapids for furniture shows when it was known as the furniture capital of the world, Lynch said.

“He just had this knack for telling people at the shows about good ideas and merchandising, and he found there was a niche for doing this kind of thing on a full-time consulting basis,” Lynch said. “The business model was very similar to what we’re doing now. It’s just we’ve modified it as times changed, especially with our marketing and advertising principles.”

During the Great Depression, the company saw a huge expansion as retailers needed to have sales to reduce inventory. Lynch began working his national contacts. After World War II, Judson Lynch’s father, Daniel Lynch, joined the company. Judson joined the family business in 1979, and his older brother, Dan Jr., joined the company about a year later.

Under this third generation of Lynch brothers, the company has gone global, with offices in California, Florida and London.

Interestingly enough, a major factor in the enduring success of the company is that despite its global reach, the family ownership hasn’t changed, Lynch said.

“We make a big deal about our family ownership for 100 years in our market for our business-to-business marketing. I think we would lose a lot of that if it wasn’t family owned,” he said.

“In our business, there’s an area of trust that’s very important. A retailer is trusting us to come into their store, telling them what to do for a certain amount of time. We’re doing all their marketing and advertising for them, changing the store around … that takes quite a bit of trust. So we pride ourselves on trust and integrity. Being a family-owned business, you can put your money where your mouth is.”

Lynch said he hopes the company continues to be family owned. His daughter Megan works with the company. Although he has no intention of retiring any time soon, Lynch said he hopes when the time comes, he’ll step down as gracefully as his father did.

“My dad stepped aside and said, ‘OK, boys, have at it,’ which is pretty cool,” he said. “A lot of second generations don’t do that. We have clients where they were failing because the older generation in charge would not let the younger generation come into the business and have the say that they should.”

Unfortunately, Dan Lynch Sr. didn’t get to take part in the anniversary celebration. On March 1, only a couple of weeks before the company’s birthday celebration on St. Patrick’s Day, he passed away. He would have been 92 later that month.

“It was hard that he was not able to witness the actual birthday and the fun, but he was always a part of it,” Lynch said. “The business was his life. He grew up with it, and he passed away with it. … I know he’d be proud.”

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