FUND RAISING Rotary turns out big sales

The company's highest sales occurred during an international convention.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A business venture by the Rotary Club of Youngstown has resulted in about $40,000 in sales during its first year of operation.
The club established a fund-raising corporation called Royco LLC, an abbreviation of Rotarians of Youngstown Company, to raise funds for the group's charitable endeavors by selling gift items bearing the Rotary Club symbols.
Each keepsake item is created by craftsmen from Wendell August Forge of Grove City, Pa., a well-known producer of hand-hammered metal gifts.
At its debut during several conventions in 2004, the company originally sold coasters, hand mirrors, coffee mugs, bookmarks and ornaments.
"Every Rotarian should have one of these products," said Eric Caspary, Rotary of Youngstown president-elect.
New products
In preparation for the 2005 Centennial Rotary International Convention and centennial celebration in late June, the company expanded its product line to include a second type of ornament, a commemorative plate and a metal tray.
At the convention in Chicago, Royco representatives sold more than $30,000 of the Rotary keepsake items, about half of the inventory they took with them, said Scott Schulick, Royco board member and club past president. The sales also comprised about 75 percent of total sales in the first year. The company hopes to expand further into the worldwide market, targeting the consumerism of 1.2 million Rotarians in 166 countries, Schulick said.
Though other clubs have similar ventures and are licensed by Rotary International to produce goods bearing Rotary logos, products sold by Royco stand out because they are American-made and handcrafted by a local metalworking company, he said.
Schulick noted that the company must sell about $30,000 worth of remaining inventory to compensate for its start-up costs before earning any profit, but said the business venture could serve as a strong source of funding for Rotary projects in the future.

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