Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Marisa Anne Edmund
"We'd just figured out how to play Pac-Man," Marisa Edmund says of the era's children. "The fact that she was laying out a comprehensive digital print catalog in the late '80s, in Japanese, was a huge accomplishment."
The next enchantment occurred while watching her father, president and CEO Robert Edmund, spend two and three days examining reams of paper—files and reports spread out all over the conference room table—to find matchback data for catalog analysis. (A process that is now much quicker and involves fewer paper cuts.)
"When you ultimately couple that with the creative—to decide who got which cover, or what messages were going to work the best, or what message would you send to which rental file," she says, "I think it all started to come together for me."
Goodbye, Edmund Scientific
It's tempting to think Marisa Edmund had it easy walking into a job at the family business, but that ignores the obvious—the EO of today sits atop an entirely different marketing environment than that of 1942.
Marisa Edmund's grandfather, the late Norman W. Edmund, majored in accounting at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. But that wasn't a lifelong passion for the amateur photographer who liked to tinker with lenses. In 1942, he started selling surplus optics to fellow hobbyists, and he was a direct marketer by 1943—sending out the first Edmund Scientific catalog.
In 1984, Robert Edmund separated Edmund Scientific—the B-to-C division—from what was then called Edmund Industrial Optics.
By the late '90s, it was clear the B-to-B division was driving most of the revenue.
In 2001, the company sold the Edmund Scientific name to Science Kit & Boreal Labs in Tonawanda, N.Y. Edmund Optics then concentrated on B-to-B optics sales.
"The roots of our company really [are in] direct marketing," Marisa Edmund says. "We just happen to be a direct marketing company that now specializes in B-to-B industrial optical components."