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What He Did To Make Millions

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it.

What He Did To Make Millions

By P.J. Malone

It’s not often that we get an inside look at what someone did to turn their business from failing into a fifty-year, multi-million-dollar business. Fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s story is a fascinating one especially considering that not many people go from poor boy to multi-millionaire.

Shortly after Nygard bought into Jacob Fashion in 1968, it’s owner, Nathan Jacob, passed away without training his protégé. Though disappointed by the lack of training, on reflection, Nygard felt it was probably best ‘not to have learned the bad habits of the industry’. Nygard was forced to figure out how to make the business a success on his own.

He took a series of steps that includes, conducting a survey of their customers in 1968, when such things weren’t done; he also researched and asked the perspective of his sales people during the design process—something that was also not a common practice.

Additionally, Nygard moved up his ‘line schedule’ so he would be the first to source materials, get the best price, and be the first to market. He also made moves to protect company accounts—those purchasing his products and selling them in their stores—which helped to establish him as an ‘honest broker’ in an otherwise not so honest industry at that time.

These things all helped to catapult him towards increased sales. Nygard took the company from a manufacturing company to a fashion house that became Canada’s largest women apparel company.

A major transformative step Peter Nygard took in his company was to become technology focused in the 1980s. Nygård was the first in the industry to develop and use technological tools to advance his business. He began with adopting a new slogan for the company—‘Where fashion meets technology’.

His technological implementations were so advanced in the industry that Nygard was always known to say, “We are a technology company that happens to do fashion.”

The New York Women’s Wear Daily (trade journal sometimes called “the bible of fashion”) did a feature on Nygard’s 35th anniversary and presented some of his technological implementations:

1980 – 1990​Peter invests initial 16M in information Technology to build a streamline computerized operation, with the goal of eliminating traditional paper-based manufacturing methods.

1990 – 2000​Peter invests an additional 50M to implement web based communication with retailers and suppliers. Code name NS2000 uses the internet to make Nygard’s operations transparent, providing an automatic ability to field every commercial transaction – electronic supply chain management.

1995​Nygard opens the premier manufacturing facility in Canada – called ARTS2 (Automatic Re-order to Sales). This is the most technologically advanced manufacturing facility in the world. It represents the total integration of computer information systems with CAD/CAM systems. By being electronically connected to the cash registers of Nygard’s biggest customers, the system receives a download of the retailer’s weekly point-of-sale data and generates re-orders automatically based on sales.

Nygard International was said to be an industry leader in the use of technology in its business—so much so that their successful inventory and warehouse fulfillment systems have created an additional logistics business for Nygård.

As a result of one of his implementations, the company won a Microsoft award in 2002 with respect to building ‘next generation applications’ using Microsoft tools.

Nygard’s smart use of technology allowed him to streamline processes, increase efficiencies, improve overall productivity, and increase his bottom line.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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