NICHE SERVICES HELP BUSINESSES PREPARE FOR HOLIDAYS

For most retailers or many companies, December is the season for hiring extra employees, working longer hours and meeting the highest revenue goals of the year.

There are a few niche businesses, though, for whom Black Friday marks the slowdown of their busy season, not the onset.

These Christmas service companies have a distinctive business model. They sweat through the spring and summer to sell, and spend the fall producing and shipping, earning their profit by getting others prepared for the season.

Holiday Foliage

One such Christmas-centric business is Holiday Foliage, which is headquartered in Otay Mesa.

Holiday Foliage is a direct manufacturer of custom-designed holiday decorations and displays for malls, retail stores and business centers all over the United States. With dozens of corporate clients which include Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Nautica, Brooks Brothers and others, the company has become a leader in its industry.

“Thanks to our ability to produce any decoration in any size and any color, we continue to be successful,” said Kristine VanZutphen, the company’s president.

Holiday Foliage began in the early 1970s when VanZutphen’s father, William, an immigrant from Holland, was unable to locate holiday trim his employers at a Sears store asked for. He decided to create his own, and the rest is history.

Today, the company has 40 employees in the corporate office and more than 300 in its Mexico-based production facilities. In addition to all of its retail clients, Holiday Foliage also produces all of the decorations for the Mall of America in Minneapolis and at all of the Disney theme parks.

“Christmas decorations account for at least 60 percent of our overall revenue,” said VanZutphen, who, along with her siblings, took over the company in 1994. “We have a small fixture operation and do some springtime decorations, but custom designing for Christmas is really what we are still all about. We start production of the decorations as early as April, and we wrap up a couple of weeks before Black Friday.

We are thankful that the Christmas season comes every year, and we enjoy being in the business of bringing the joy of the holidays to others,” VanZutphen said.

Snowglobe Christmas

A Snowglobe Christmas was developed by San Diego resident Ron Ranson. The 50-minute DVD features close-ups of handmade snow globes in action.

Back in 2007, Ranson, a theater lighting and set designer and a theater instructor at the University of California San Diego, had been searching for just the right niche format to create a unique holiday video, something that would enhance an environment such as the videos of roaring fireplaces do. After watching a documentary about a man who repairs snow globes, he thought, “This could be it.”

After a bit of research and leg work, he and his wife, Nicola, were off to Austria to secure more than 30 of the world’s finest holiday-themed snow globes. There are some with Santa Claus and snowmen, a nativity scene, sugar plums and Christmas trees, and even a replica of the famous globe from the movie “Citizen Kane.”