After a stint in public accounting, Whetzel went to work for Fleming Packaging Co., a firm that duplicated and distributed videotapes. After taking some losses on a couple of projects, the owners of Fleming didn’t see the potential for video duplication and distribution, so Whetzel and business partner Charlie Seldon bought the company in 1991.
Doing the deal wasn’t easy.
“I borrowed from family, refinanced the house, and took everything out of savings,” he said. “I was dead broke and up to the wazoo in debt.”
Whetzel didn’t have a formal business plan, but he had projections and an idea of what he thought he could do. He worked with Indiana National Bank to develop a presentation to local banks to help raise additional capital.
With a small group of employees, Whetzel and Seldon set up Full Perspective Video Services Inc. on Guion Road and started looking for ways for the struggling company to break into direct marketing and order fulfillment.
From there, the company grew to include a third-party logistics unit with a call center designed to electronically feed orders and process payments.
“There was a lot of competition in those early days and we weren’t well-known,” said Whetzel, 57. “Our marketing was all word of mouth, which worked out great. Now, we do trade shows and are members of the electronics retail association … and we are constantly looking for ways to optimize the Web site.”
Business has fluctuated over the years. Revenue hit $20 million at one point, but in the last eight years sales have settled in at a steady $5 million to $7 million a year, said Whetzel, who bought out Seldon in March 2006. He said the company is starting to grow again thanks to aggressive marketing.
Whetzel said competition still continues to be a challenge, but that having a fulfillment center, call center and video/DVD dubbing capabilities makes his firm a onestop shop.
Other challenges include looking for efficiencies to offset falling prices that companies pay for fulfillment services. Staying compliant with the payment card industry also requires constant attention. With a rise in identity-theft cases, Whetzel said his company has to stay on top of secure technology to give customers peace of mind.
“We have an outside auditing firm that constantly tries to get into the system and break through the firewalls,” he said.
Andrea Downing, vice president of home entertainment and partnerships at PBS in Virginia, said Full Perspective Services has been fantastic in manufacturing VHS and DVD products and has responded and evolved as digital needs have evolved.
“They have been surprisingly agile from the fulfillment perspective for such a small company,” she said.
Bill Ranta, senior salesman with Little & Co. in Lowell, Mass., said he appreciates the lack of red tape when working with Whetzel on order processing.
“We are a payment processing center, but when we are asked about a fulfillment company, I tell clients that [Full Perspective] works well with others and can provide efficient service and shipping,” Ranta said.
Whetzel hopes the business will continue to grow as more companies see the firm as an attractive alternative to trying to fulfill orders and payments themselves.