owner of Cumberland Fulfillment
Q: Tell me about starting the company.
A: In late 2009, I met (my colleague) out in California and we started discussing me taking the work and creating my own company out of it. I have a fulfillment system, I have tools, I have software, I have experience. Why don't we look at bringing other companies into my purview? This would relieve some stress on the publisher for having to foot the entire cost of fulfillment, and it would give me the opportunity to look for some other clients and grow the business.
Do you have a particular niche?
I'm looking for small to medium-sized businesses. … I've made it my mission to look for companies that were doing it themselves, most likely, (but are) on the edge of it being an inconvenience to do the fulfillment. …
My vision is to help small companies hopefully become bigger. … My idea is, help companies get started and then the returns will come later, and when they do get big, I can go with them.
Does the type of product matter?
It really doesn't, but I've found that if I don't have a niche, a customer is not as confident that I can handle their particular product line. I wasn't doing food — I do DVDs and books, primarily — and (food producers) didn't see a fit. Since then, I've acquired a small food company here in Mechanicsburg that sells hot sauce. I wanted to "get my feet wet" in dealing with food, to see how that goes and get a little bit of a track record, a little bit of credibility that I can handle foodstuffs.
Another client sells paint on the Home Shopping Network. I'm an authorized drop shipper.
A lot of people let Home Shopping Network do the fulfillment side, (but) it's fairly expensive. … Home Shopping Network will allow third-party vendors such as myself to be authorized to ship on their behalf. So when I ship out products for this client, they have Home Shopping Network stickers on them, but they're coming from me.
Why does a company choose Cumberland Fulfillment?
A smaller company, if they go to a large organization, those large organizations will take a percentage of the sales price of their products; they will take a larger cut in the cost for doing this business. I don't take percentages from your product sale. I take a cost-plus. I'm only charging you for the service that I'm providing.
And I don't have minimums, either. If you go to some larger fulfillment houses, you have to ship a certain amount for them to even want to talk to you. Or if you're only shipping 50 things a month, your fee is still $1,000, whether you ship two (items) or 200. There's a minimum fee structure. I don't do that, because with a smaller company, that's death.
If you're the CEO or the salesperson or whoever's on the frontline for your small company, and you're spending the day putting things into boxes or on the back end of it, who's on the front end boosting sales and growth? Nobody. So I take that burden off your shoulders. Yes, you're going to pay a little for it, but the time savings that you as a business owner get will allow you to drive revenue instead of just doing the back end of what you've already sold. That's what I sell: I sell that time.
Bob Costello worked for a number of years as a video producer for Amp Inc., the Harrisburg-area electronics manufacturer that Tyco Electronics, now TE Connectivity, bought in 1999.
In 2005, he began doing packing and shipping for a medical publishing company run by a colleague from his Amp days. After several years, the two decided that Costello’s work should be spun off as an independent business.
Cumberland Fulfillment began operations in January 2010. Costello is the only employee, though he hopes to add staff soon.
Costello, 52, was born and raised in Mechanicsburg. He and his wife have three children; two recently graduated from college, while one is a rising high school junior.