Components of a garment can come from several countries. So what to do when one mismatched
button or inconsistent shading keeps an entire clothing order from meeting the brand standards of a
major fashion retailer? That’s where third-party inspection, fulfillment and liquidation companies
Renee Claxton saw a tremendous opportunity to raise the quality standards she observed in the
industry as overseas production manager for The Limited.
“We were sending jobs out at The Limited; their quality wasn’t great,” she said. “I thought, ‘I
could do that, and I could do it better.’”
Claxton started Sort & Pack in 1996. The company provides fulfillment, warehousing, direct
shipping, packaging, kitting, gift-set assembly and related services for national and international
retail brands. Her companion company, Catch of the Day, liquidates excess or below-quality items in
the secondary retail market.
Claxton spoke with Columbus CEO magazine about her company and why Columbus is a prime location
to provide services to the fashion industry, its buyers and suppliers.
Q: What led you to start your business?
A: I was traveling overseas tremendously. I really wanted something where I would
not have to travel as much. I was still at the Limited when I started the company. For a while, I
would go to the Limited all day and work. At night, I would go to my warehouse.
Q: How many employees do you have?
A: On a regular day, we have about 40 to 45. If we need to ramp up, we can pretty
quickly ramp up to 75. We do not use any temp agencies, which differentiates us from many of our
competitors. We have a call list of flexible associates who like working here. A lot of them have
been with me for 10-plus years.
Q: What services does Sort & Pack provide, and who are your clients?
A: We service major retailers: Victoria’s Secret, Eddie Bauer, Pier 1. What we
offer now is not just clothing. We offer kitting and packaging. We do a lot of packaging, kitting,
putting things together. Maybe components come in from four or five different countries and need to
be put together in one kit for a customer.
Everything comes in here, is centralized and sorted until we’re ready to put together the
We buy the shipments that are canceled or, for whatever reason, they’re up for purchase, and we
sell them to T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, all these companies are large customers for us. We process
buyback programs for Macy’s … preparing (products) to be sold off to the secondary market.
Q: How has the industry changed since you began your company?
A: It’s a very competitive business. It seems like there are more companies
offering these services every year. A lot of people who are in warehousing are now adding these
services to the menu.
It’s very price-competitive. If someone offers a penny less, sometimes we lose the opportunity.
It’s a very tight margin. It wasn’t always this way. I started the company 20 years ago, and we
were making more money then on the same projects we do today for less money. The expenses have just
skyrocketed across the board, and what we charge has gone lower.
Q: How will you sustain business in that competitive environment?
A: We are looking at other services that we can start offering over and above the
companies we primarily focus on. We’re looking at going outside the central Ohio area, possibly a
West Coast presence so that we can try to bring in business from customers (there).
Q: What are the benefits of being headquartered in Columbus?
A: Being in Columbus, we are central to a tremendous amount of large retailers and
their distribution centers. That’s what we care about. Location-wise, Columbus is very strategic
for what we do. We try to stay close to I-270 and convenient for our customers. The whole
Columbus-Cincinnati-Indiana (area) has been great for distribution.
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