HOW WE GOT STARTED
Mandalay's founder and Managing Director, Lynn Thomas, had been importing anything from kids' meal toys to white satin slippers for nearly 20 years when a woman in American Fork, Utah approached him about importing $5,000-$10,000 worth of supplies such as toothbrushes, soap, and combs used to assemble humanitarian kits.
"I was a doubting Thomas; I was skeptical about how long it would take me to get rid of that much product," said Thomas, referring to that first order. To his great surprise the products sold quickly, almost exclusively to people in American Fork interested in assembling humanitarian kits.
WHY WE KEEP GOING
Today we sell to thousands of people all over the United States. Most customers being a direct result of one person telling another about what great prices Mandalay has to offer on humanitarian products. For example, during 2005 all that word-of-mouth advertising helped Thomas sell nearly 1.5 million imported toothbrushes to benefit people in need throughout the world.
With offices, full-time employees, and contacts in China, Bangledesh, and India, Thomas is able to cut out the middleman in the supply chain. Over the years, he and his employees have developed the kind of contacts worldwide that enable him to buy an item like a toothbrush straight from the factory, import it to the United States and sell it for 14 cents. Many of Mandalay's customers have found that thanks to his ability to cut a notch out of the supply chain, they are able to assemble three to four times the number of kits at the same price.
"We have no minimum sale. We do anything from five-figure sales to a small order for a woman assembling two to three kits on her pension funds," Thomas said. "The best business is one where the customer wants what you have as bad as you want to sell it, and I have customers thanking me every day for selling them things they are going to give away. It gives me lots of warm fuzzies and lumps in the throat to see people doing so much good for others." Thomas knows that his products are blessing the lives of people around the world, but the real payoff comes when he gets to see the products in use, first hand. Last year, Thomas was able to watch children in Bangladesh practice their alphabet letters on chalkboards purchased from Mandalay. "It was an amazing thing to be in this little village watching these kids use the school kits," Thomas said. Thomas is also happy to know that through these humanitarian efforts, mothers in third world countries who are often forced to wrap their babies in newspapers may now have the option of receiving their new baby in a warm receiving blanket. Humanitarian efforts are a great cause, and one which enlightens both the giver and the receiver!