From curiosity to
national brand

The Ray Padula Story

Join us with Ray for an overview of how the Ray Padula company was founded and has grown into a leading, national brand

The Ray Padula Story

From curiosity to a national brand

Join us with Ray for an overview of how the Ray Padula company was founded and has grown into a leading, national brand

The Ray Padula Story

From curiosity to a national brand

Join us with Ray for an overview of how the Ray Padula company was founded and has grown into a leading, national brand

An Early Interest

Growing up on Long Island, Founder, President & CEO, Ray Padula always had an interest in landscaping - naming himself his home’s “landscaper” at a young age. On most weekends, neighbors would find him mowing the grass, taking care of the yard, and watering the lawn. Before he was tall enough to reach the lawn mower handle, Ray had a large collection of gardening tools in the shed at home.

“When I was younger, whenever report cards from school would come in the mail, good grades were always celebrated with something. Everyone would usually be excited for a Toys R Us visit for whatever the latest video game was. I couldn’t wait to go to Home Depot or Pergament, a popular hardware store that was around at the time,” said Ray.

Early on, at 13-14 years old, the entrepreneur spark hit, and Ray started his first company – Ray’s Above and Beyond Automatic Sprinklers, installing underground sprinkler systems. The company was a success, and summers were spent installing sprinkler systems across Long Island.

An Early Interest

Growing up on Long Island, Founder, President & CEO, Ray Padula always had an interest in landscaping - naming himself his home’s “landscaper” at a young age. On most weekends, neighbors would find him mowing the grass, taking care of the yard, and watering the lawn. Before he was tall enough to reach the lawn mower handle, Ray had a large collection of gardening tools in the shed at home.

“When I was younger, whenever report cards from school would come in the mail, good grades were always celebrated with something. Everyone would usually be excited for a Toys R Us visit for whatever the latest video game was. I couldn’t wait to go to Home Depot or Pergament, a popular hardware store that was around at the time,” said Ray.

Early on, at 13-14 years old, the entrepreneur spark hit, and Ray started his first company – Ray’s Above and Beyond Automatic Sprinklers, installing underground sprinkler systems. The company was a success, and summers were spent installing sprinkler systems across Long Island.

The Spark

Having used sprinklers for year’s taking care of his mom’s lawn, there was one summer several sprinklers were purchased and each one of them failed to work. Ray took the sprinkler apart and came up with what he thought would be a better design. Out of simple curiosity if his idea would work, he mailed drawings and a note to the company that made the sprinkler.

“A few weeks later, there was a packet in the mail from the brand with a note attached to a copy of their catalog, saying they rely on their own team for product development, and they were not interested in what I sent. They sent my drawings back.”

Still curious if it would work, an internet search for 'how to make a prototype' ended up leading him to a website for a company in Asia that had sprinklers listed as items they made. An email was sent to this company with a copy of his drawings, inquiring if they would be able to make a prototype.

“I had no knowledge of how prototyping worked, patents, engineering, or even what I was really asking of them – it was just a shot in the dark, with no expectations, wanting to see if what I came up with would work on the front lawn.”

He never received an email back.

"About two months later, a box was sitting at the front door. It was from overseas, I opened it up and was pretty surprised. There was a full prototype of the sprinkler I sent them, a CD with engineering drawings of it, and their company presentation.”

An idea was sparked.

The Spark

Having used sprinklers for year’s taking care of his mom’s lawn, there was one summer several sprinklers were purchased and each one of them failed to work. Ray took the sprinkler apart and came up with what he thought would be a better design. Out of simple curiosity if his idea would work, he mailed drawings and a note to the company that made the sprinkler.

“A few weeks later, there was a packet in the mail from the brand with a note attached to a copy of their catalog, saying they rely on their own team for product development, and they were not interested in what I sent. They sent my drawings back.”

Still curious if it would work, an internet search for 'how to make a prototype' ended up leading him to a website for a company in Asia that had sprinklers listed as items they made. An email was sent to this company with a copy of his drawings, inquiring if they would be able to make a prototype.

“I had no knowledge of how prototyping worked, patents, engineering, or even what I was really asking of them – it was just a shot in the dark, with no expectations, wanting to see if what I came up with would work on the front lawn.”

He never received an email back.

"About two months later, a box was sitting at the front door. It was from overseas, I opened it up and was pretty surprised. There was a full prototype of the sprinkler I sent them, a CD with engineering drawings of it, and their company presentation.”

An idea was sparked.

The Start of a Brand

After receiving the prototype, Ray emailed the company, and conversations began.

“We started emailing back and forth, and then began speaking on instant messenger chat, sometimes for hours at a time. I would ask and discuss everything I could think of with them. They sent all their capabilities, products they have made in the past, products they were currently making, everything they were capable of, other factories they knew, and that they could manufacture any products that were designed and sent to them. It was a daily influx of incredible information and possibilities, where something just clicked, and all these non-stop ideas started forming.”

Ray spent the next few months speaking with the factory on an almost daily basis.

“There were times I would end up missing school the next day, after staying up all night talking and absorbing everything they would share.”

It was then that the idea to start a company to sell these innovative lawn and garden products was born.

“Almost every day a box of samples started delivering to my house. The doorbell would ring, and my mom would go into her daily panic of “What is all of this?!” “Where is this coming from?!” “Who’s paying for this?!” "Who are you talking to?!"

The Start of a Brand

After receiving the prototype, Ray emailed the company, and conversations began.

“We started emailing back and forth, and then began speaking on instant messenger chat, sometimes for hours at a time. I would ask and discuss everything I could think of with them. They sent all their capabilities, products they have made in the past, products they were currently making, everything they were capable of, other factories they knew, and that they could manufacture any products that were designed and sent to them. It was a daily influx of incredible information and possibilities, where something just clicked, and all these non-stop ideas started forming.”

Ray spent the next few months speaking with the factory on an almost daily basis.

“There were times I would end up missing school the next day, after staying up all night talking and absorbing everything they would share.”

It was then that the idea to start a company to sell these innovative lawn and garden products was born.

“Almost every day a box of samples started delivering to my house. The doorbell would ring, and my mom would go into her daily panic of “What is all of this?!” “Where is this coming from?!” “Who’s paying for this?!” "Who are you talking to?!"

First Sales Pitch

Ray began creating catalogs, packaging, and brochures for the small line of watering products that he had created with this factory.

“All of the first packaging was made playing around in PowerPoint.”

Packaging was printed out, glued onto cardboard from shoeboxes, and cut out. The first company mock-ups were made.

“I had just started college, and would be sitting in class, or just ending up skipping class, working on ideas to start this company. When I spent the entire time during a first semester final sketching product packaging on a piece of paper, instead of taking the test, I made the decision to put a pause on school and focus on this full time to give it a shot.”

With products, packaging, and catalogs created, the attempt to start selling the products started.

“I had no idea what was involved with selling products, and didn’t know anyone at the time who did, either. I started emailing every retailer, to whatever emails I could find online, their website customer support emails, physically mailed packages, letters, samples, whatever I could do to try and contact them. At the time, I had it in my head that it would just be this simple thing of them liking a product, and ordering some to put in their stores.”

About a month later, Ray received a response back and was invited to meet with the buyer of one of the top retailers in the US, who was interested in learning more.

“The day came, I had no idea what to expect, or what they even expected. I had never made a sales pitch, or ever had a meeting with anyone at that point. Walking into that conference room was nothing but nerves. I handed out the presentation, took out the samples I had, and just went for it - explaining what the goal was, why the products would be better for them and their customers, and so on. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and ended with the dreaded question - “talk to us about your current sales, where else are you selling any of this?” and pretty soon after a “we wish you the best of luck, thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.” Nothing was heard back for weeks.

That fall, Ray was invited to be included in a distributor’s exhibit that sold to independent garden centers. “We set up a booth, displayed all of our product, and showed them to anyone who would come by. It was a ton of fun, everyone that we talked with seemed to like the products. It felt like it was a success.”

First Sales Pitch

Ray began creating catalogs, packaging, and brochures for the small line of watering products that he had created with this factory.

“All of the first packaging was made playing around in PowerPoint.”

Packaging was printed out, glued onto cardboard from shoeboxes, and cut out. The first company mock-ups were made.

“I had just started college, and would be sitting in class, or just ending up skipping class, working on ideas to start this company. When I spent the entire time during a first semester final sketching product packaging on a piece of paper, instead of taking the test, I made the decision to put a pause on school and focus on this full time to give it a shot.”

With products, packaging, and catalogs created, the attempt to start selling the products started.

“I had no idea what was involved with selling products, and didn’t know anyone at the time who did, either. I started emailing every retailer, to whatever emails I could find online, their website customer support emails, physically mailed packages, letters, samples, whatever I could do to try and contact them. At the time, I had it in my head that it would just be this simple thing of them liking a product, and ordering some to put in their stores.”

About a month later, Ray received a response back and was invited to meet with the buyer of one of the top retailers in the US, who was interested in learning more.

“The day came, I had no idea what to expect, or what they even expected. I had never made a sales pitch, or ever had a meeting with anyone at that point. Walking into that conference room was nothing but nerves. I handed out the presentation, took out the samples I had, and just went for it - explaining what the goal was, why the products would be better for them and their customers, and so on. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and ended with the dreaded question - “talk to us about your current sales, where else are you selling any of this?” and pretty soon after a “we wish you the best of luck, thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.” Nothing was heard back for weeks.

That fall, Ray was invited to be included in a distributor’s exhibit that sold to independent garden centers. “We set up a booth, displayed all of our product, and showed them to anyone who would come by. It was a ton of fun, everyone that we talked with seemed to like the products. It felt like it was a success.”

First Orders

It was a success. A few weeks later, the results were in. Over 100 garden centers ended up ordering products. Shortly after that, the retailer that Ray pitched a few months prior also wrote back.

“They had space in their program and were going to order products to give us a 200-store test. It was a surreal moment. This was now an actual company.”

“I remember the buyer calling - we were talking about information she needed, what was required of us, things for company set-up, and at one point in the conversation she said, “I’ll need a list of the item numbers and UPC codes as quickly as you can get them to me.” Without really thinking about it, I responded “sure, what’s a UPC code?” She laughed, thinking I was joking around with her. I panic laughed back, meanwhile I was sitting there frantically googling “what’s a UPC code?” before she realized I wasn’t kidding. Ah, the barcode on the packaging, got it! I wrote down everything they needed as she talked, hung up, and had no idea what any of it really meant.”

Later that month, the first official orders were received.

“We received $123,000 in orders from the garden center show, and $200,000 in orders for our 200-store test. It was about 70,000 units total. It was this thrilling, exhilarating moment – at least for a little bit. Then, it was panic. Now what?”

First Orders

It was a success. A few weeks later, the results were in. Over 100 garden centers ended up ordering products. Shortly after that, the retailer that Ray pitched a few months prior also wrote back.

“They had space in their program and were going to order products to give us a 200-store test. It was a surreal moment. This was now an actual company.”

“I remember the buyer calling - we were talking about information she needed, what was required of us, things for company set-up, and at one point in the conversation she said, “I’ll need a list of the item numbers and UPC codes as quickly as you can get them to me.” Without really thinking about it, I responded “sure, what’s a UPC code?” She laughed, thinking I was joking around with her. I panic laughed back, meanwhile I was sitting there frantically googling “what’s a UPC code?” before she realized I wasn’t kidding. Ah, the barcode on the packaging, got it! I wrote down everything they needed as she talked, hung up, and had no idea what any of it really meant.”

Later that month, the first official orders were received.

“We received $123,000 in orders from the garden center show, and $200,000 in orders for our 200-store test. It was about 70,000 units total. It was this thrilling, exhilarating moment – at least for a little bit. Then, it was panic. Now what?”

Production & First Shipments

Having never manufactured, produced, or shipped products, the weeks that followed were a tremendous learning experience and real-world lessons in business.

“If it weren’t for the many people that I was fortunate to be introduced to around this time that had some background in parts of what I was trying to do, and even ended up providing initial capital, it wouldn’t have ended up working out.”

A few months later, the first containers of product arrived.

“My aunt had a warehouse at her office that we were able to use to unload the containers and ship out product. It was extremely exciting - product was actually here. I watched the first container pull into the parking lot, we opened the container doors, and hopped up to start unloading it.”

It was shortly thereafter that things took a turn.

“After about 10 or so cartons were taken out of the container, a feeling of disbelief sunk in. Every single carton had a typo. Not a small typo, a typo on the brand logo. Everything was printed Ray Radula. Every single carton.”

That was just the beginning.

“We picked a carton, opened it up, and it didn’t get much better. The product was attached to the cards with a tiny twist tie, not a zip tie - more like something you'd see on a loaf of bread, with half the products having fell off the card. The packaging was printed incorrectly. Some products didn’t even have packaging – they were just lying in the carton. Products that were supposed to be a in a display tray were not. Some products were random colors. Pretty much every single product and carton was wrong. All of this product, all of these orders, and we couldn’t ship any of it. I’ll never forget the email we received back about this, basically saying “you should have been clearer on the specifications.” That was a very fast, hard lesson.”

Replacement packaging and cartons were printed and sent.

“We ended up unpacking every single carton, zip-tied and re-packed every product to new packaging, new displayers, and repacked cartons. There were mountains of products laying everywhere. For a good three weeks, every single day, family, friends, everyone, and anyone that I knew all spent every night and weekend re-packaging thousands of products, until 2, 3, 4 in the morning. If it weren’t for that, those would have been our first and last orders. More than 10 years later, it’s something that’s still talked and laughed about. It wasn’t too funny at the time.”

Everything was corrected, and product was finally able to be shipped. The first Ray Padula products arrived in-stores that Spring in 2009, and when they did, sales took off.

“Once our products finally made it in-store, sales were really great. We ended up out-selling projections, and other competitive products in the store.”

Production & First Shipments

Having never manufactured, produced, or shipped products, the weeks that followed were a tremendous learning experience and real-world lessons in business.

“If it weren’t for the many people that I was fortunate to be introduced to around this time that had some background in parts of what I was trying to do, and even ended up providing initial capital, it wouldn’t have ended up working out.”

A few months later, the first containers of product arrived.

“My aunt had a warehouse at her office that we were able to use to unload the containers and ship out product. It was extremely exciting - product was actually here. I watched the first container pull into the parking lot, we opened the container doors, and hopped up to start unloading it.”

It was shortly thereafter that things took a turn.

“After about 10 or so cartons were taken out of the container, a feeling of disbelief sunk in. Every single carton had a typo. Not a small typo, a typo on the brand logo. Everything was printed Ray Radula. Every single carton.”

That was just the beginning.

“We picked a carton, opened it up, and it didn’t get much better. The product was attached to the cards with a tiny twist tie, not a zip tie - more like something you'd see on a loaf of bread, with half the products having fell off the card. The packaging was printed incorrectly. Some products didn’t even have packaging – they were just lying in the carton. Products that were supposed to be a in a display tray were not. Some products were random colors. Pretty much every single product and carton was wrong. All of this product, all of these orders, and we couldn’t ship any of it. I’ll never forget the email we received back about this, basically saying “you should have been clearer on the specifications.” That was a very fast, hard lesson.”

Replacement packaging and cartons were printed and sent.

“We ended up unpacking every single carton, zip-tied and re-packed every product to new packaging, new displayers, and repacked cartons. There were mountains of products laying everywhere. For a good three weeks, every single day, family, friends, everyone, and anyone that I knew all spent every night and weekend re-packaging thousands of products, until 2, 3, 4 in the morning. If it weren’t for that, those would have been our first and last orders. More than 10 years later, it’s something that’s still talked and laughed about. It wasn’t too funny at the time.”

Everything was corrected, and product was finally able to be shipped. The first Ray Padula products arrived in-stores that Spring in 2009, and when they did, sales took off.

“Once our products finally made it in-store, sales were really great. We ended up out-selling projections, and other competitive products in the store.”

National Distribution

Continuing with the momentum of the launch of the brand, Ray continued to attempt to meet with other retailers, hired some of the first team members, opened a small office, and began participating in industry trade shows to market the company.

“We exhibited in our first industry trade show in 2009, which opened a lot of doors to meet many significant people in the industry and retail. On the second day of the show, there were a few people in our booth, and I was approached with a quick “tell me about all this, what’s the vision?” It was a great 20 minute conversation. We shook hands, they took my business card, and left. A few minutes later someone from the booth across the aisle came over to ask how I knew them? I said I didn’t, and realized that throughout the whole conversation, I blanked, and never ask where they worked, or for a card. Turned out, they were executives for the seasonal department at a national retailer we really wanted to meet with.”

They ended up emailing, and an invitation was given to make a pitch.

In the Spring of 2010, the Ray Padula brand and 34 products were launched nationally in 1,300 stores in partnership with Kmart.

“The email from Kmart saying that we were awarded their business for the 2010 season and would be the only watering brand in the store is still in my office today. It was one of the most exciting days. That program truly launched us as a company and brand, and their great support and partnership for the many years that followed is something that’s a significant part of our success and sparked what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.”

The products sold much better than expected, and the Kmart program continued to expand to include an entire aisle with over 80 products in-store, expanding the brand across many garden categories as the Ray Padula company continued to grow.

Over the years since, Ray Padula has continued to grow into a leading lawn and garden brand across the United States in close partnerships with many of the nation's leading retailers.

National Distribution

Continuing with the momentum of the launch of the brand, Ray continued to attempt to meet with other retailers, hired some of the first team members, opened a small office, and began participating in industry trade shows to market the company.

“We exhibited in our first industry trade show in 2009, which opened a lot of doors to meet many significant people in the industry and retail. On the second day of the show, there were a few people in our booth, and I was approached with a quick “tell me about all this, what’s the vision?” It was a great 20 minute conversation. We shook hands, they took my business card, and left. A few minutes later someone from the booth across the aisle came over to ask how I knew them? I said I didn’t, and realized that throughout the whole conversation, I blanked, and never ask where they worked, or for a card. Turned out, they were executives for the seasonal department at a national retailer we really wanted to meet with.”

They ended up emailing, and an invitation was given to make a pitch.

In the Spring of 2010, the Ray Padula brand and 34 products were launched nationally in 1,300 stores in partnership with Kmart.

“The email from Kmart saying that we were awarded their business for the 2010 season and would be the only watering brand in the store is still in my office today. It was one of the most exciting days. That program truly launched us as a company and brand, and their great support and partnership for the many years that followed is something that’s a significant part of our success and sparked what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.”

The products sold much better than expected, and the Kmart program continued to expand to include an entire aisle with over 80 products in-store, expanding the brand across many garden categories as the Ray Padula company continued to grow.

Over the years since, Ray Padula has continued to grow into a leading lawn and garden brand across the United States in close partnerships with many of the nation's leading retailers.

Hello Canada!

In 2017 the Ray Padula brand grew across the border and was officially launched in Canada in 2017 in partnership with Lowe’s.

Since then, the brand has enjoyed great success and favor across the country. Gardeners across Canada can find the largest selection of Ray Padula products today at Walmart.

Hello Canada!

In 2017 the Ray Padula brand grew across the border and was officially launched in Canada in 2017 in partnership with Lowe’s.

Since then, the brand has enjoyed great success and favor across the country. Gardeners across Canada can find the largest selection of Ray Padula products today at Walmart.

Ventures in eCommerce & Brand Expansion

In April 2021, Ray Padula Holdings announced the launch of its DTC (direct-to-consumer) ecommerce division, with the unveiling of the all new raypadula.com.

“This initiative has been in development for quite some time, and we’re extremely excited and optimistic for this expansion of the brand. During the past year, like many other national brands, we have seen an explosion of growth in our online retail channels. Even more exciting is that there has been a tremendous amount of new people actively participating in the lawn and garden category with millions of new millennial gardeners. We're very eager to connect, engage, and partner with these new gardeners and provide the solutions needed to grow their dream yard.”

The new site and division have been created to further extend the brand relationship the company enjoys with current as well as future customers.

“Whether you are visiting our site to shop, visiting for lawn and garden inspiration and advice, or visiting for product support, the site was engineered as an immersive experience to meet your complete needs of everything lawn and garden.”

Ventures in eCommerce & Brand Expansion

In April 2021, Ray Padula Holdings announced the launch of its DTC (direct-to-consumer) ecommerce division, with the unveiling of the all new raypadula.com.

“This initiative has been in development for quite some time, and we’re extremely excited and optimistic for this expansion of the brand. During the past year, like many other national brands, we have seen an explosion of growth in our online retail channels. Even more exciting is that there has been a tremendous amount of new people actively participating in the lawn and garden category with millions of new millennial gardeners. We're very eager to connect, engage, and partner with these new gardeners and provide the solutions needed to grow their dream yard.”

The new site and division have been created to further extend the brand relationship the company enjoys with current as well as future customers.

“Whether you are visiting our site to shop, visiting for lawn and garden inspiration and advice, or visiting for product support, the site was engineered as an immersive experience to meet your complete needs of everything lawn and garden.”

The Ray Padula Company Today

Today, the Ray Padula Company has grown to become one of the leading brands and suppliers of innovative lawn and garden products across multiple categories throughout North America. Ray Padula products can be found at leading in-store and online retailers, as well as raypadula.com.

“It’s been quite the journey so far of great successes, many stumbling blocks, tons of lessons, and we’re just getting started! All of us here are tremendously grateful for all the opportunities and support that has been shown to us along the way. We're looking forward to continuing our mission to provide innovative lawn and garden products, become every gardener's choice of brand, and inspiring people everywhere to dig in and grow their dream yard. We can’t wait to see all of the growth and success the future holds.”

The Ray Padula Company Today

Today, the Ray Padula Company has grown to become one of the leading brands and suppliers of innovative lawn and garden products across multiple categories throughout North America. Ray Padula products can be found at leading in-store and online retailers, as well as raypadula.com.

“It’s been quite the journey so far of great successes, many stumbling blocks, tons of lessons, and we’re just getting started! All of us here are tremendously grateful for all the opportunities and support that has been shown to us along the way. We're looking forward to continuing our mission to provide innovative lawn and garden products, become every gardener's choice of brand, and inspiring people everywhere to dig in and grow their dream yard. We can’t wait to see all of the growth and success the future holds.”

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An Early Interest

Growing up on Long Island, Founder, President & CEO, Ray Padula always had an interest in landscaping - naming himself his home’s “landscaper” at a young age. On most weekends, neighbors would find him mowing the grass, taking care of the yard, and watering the lawn. Before he was tall enough to reach the lawn mower handle, Ray had a large collection of gardening tools in the shed at home.

“When I was younger, whenever report cards from school would come in the mail, good grades were always celebrated with something. Everyone would usually be excited for a Toys R Us visit for whatever the latest video game was. I couldn’t wait to go to Home Depot or Pergament, a popular hardware store that was around at the time,” said Ray.

Early on, at 13-14 years old, the entrepreneur spark hit, and Ray started his first company – Ray’s Above and Beyond Automatic Sprinklers, installing underground sprinkler systems. The company was a success, and summers were spent installing sprinkler systems across Long Island.

The Spark

Having used sprinklers for year’s taking care of his mom’s lawn, there was one summer several sprinklers were purchased and each one of them failed to work. Ray took the sprinkler apart and came up with what he thought would be a better design. Out of simple curiosity if his idea would work, he mailed drawings and a note to the company that made the sprinkler.

“A few weeks later, there was a packet in the mail from the brand with a note attached to a copy of their catalog, saying they rely on their own team for product development, and they were not interested in what I sent. They sent my drawings back.”

Still curious if it would work, an internet search for 'how to make a prototype' ended up leading him to a website for a company in Asia that had sprinklers listed as items they made. An email was sent to this company with a copy of his drawings, inquiring if they would be able to make a prototype.

“I had no knowledge of how prototyping worked, patents, engineering, or even what I was really asking of them – it was just a shot in the dark, with no expectations, wanting to see if what I came up with would work on the front lawn.”

He never received an email back.

"About two months later, a box was sitting at the front door. It was from overseas, I opened it up and was pretty surprised. There was a full prototype of the sprinkler I sent them, a CD with engineering drawings of it, and their company presentation.”

An idea was sparked.

The Start of a Brand

After receiving the prototype, Ray emailed the company, and conversations began.

“We started emailing back and forth, and then began speaking on instant messenger chat, sometimes for hours at a time. I would ask and discuss everything I could think of with them. They sent all their capabilities, products they have made in the past, products they were currently making, everything they were capable of, other factories they knew, and that they could manufacture any products that were designed and sent to them. It was a daily influx of incredible information and possibilities, where something just clicked, and all these non-stop ideas started forming.”

Ray spent the next few months speaking with the factory on an almost daily basis.

“There were times I would end up missing school the next day, after staying up all night talking and absorbing everything they would share.”

It was then that the idea to start a company to sell these innovative lawn and garden products was born.

“Almost every day a box of samples started delivering to my house. The doorbell would ring, and my mom would go into her daily panic of “What is all of this?!” “Where is this coming from?!” “Who’s paying for this?!” "Who are you talking to?!"

First Sales Pitch

Ray began creating catalogs, packaging, and brochures for the small line of watering products that he had created with this factory.

“All of the first packaging was made playing around in PowerPoint.”

Packaging was printed out, glued onto cardboard from shoeboxes, and cut out. The first company mock-ups were made.

“I had just started college, and would be sitting in class, or just ending up skipping class, working on ideas to start this company. When I spent the entire time during a first semester final sketching product packaging on a piece of paper, instead of taking the test, I made the decision to put a pause on school and focus on this full time to give it a shot.”

With products, packaging, and catalogs created, the attempt to start selling the products started.

“I had no idea what was involved with selling products, and didn’t know anyone at the time who did, either. I started emailing every retailer, to whatever emails I could find online, their website customer support emails, physically mailed packages, letters, samples, whatever I could do to try and contact them. At the time, I had it in my head that it would just be this simple thing of them liking a product, and ordering some to put in their stores.”

About a month later, Ray received a response back and was invited to meet with the buyer of one of the top retailers in the US, who was interested in learning more.

“The day came, I had no idea what to expect, or what they even expected. I had never made a sales pitch, or ever had a meeting with anyone at that point. Walking into that conference room was nothing but nerves. I handed out the presentation, took out the samples I had, and just went for it - explaining what the goal was, why the products would be better for them and their customers, and so on. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and ended with the dreaded question - “talk to us about your current sales, where else are you selling any of this?” and pretty soon after a “we wish you the best of luck, thanks for coming in, we’ll be in touch.” Nothing was heard back for weeks.

That fall, Ray was invited to be included in a distributor’s exhibit that sold to independent garden centers. “We set up a booth, displayed all of our product, and showed them to anyone who would come by. It was a ton of fun, everyone that we talked with seemed to like the products. It felt like it was a success.”

First Orders

It was a success. A few weeks later, the results were in. Over 100 garden centers ended up ordering products. Shortly after that, the retailer that Ray pitched a few months prior also wrote back.

“They had space in their program and were going to order products to give us a 200-store test. It was a surreal moment. This was now an actual company.”

“I remember the buyer calling - we were talking about information she needed, what was required of us, things for company set-up, and at one point in the conversation she said, “I’ll need a list of the item numbers and UPC codes as quickly as you can get them to me.” Without really thinking about it, I responded “sure, what’s a UPC code?” She laughed, thinking I was joking around with her. I panic laughed back, meanwhile I was sitting there frantically googling “what’s a UPC code?” before she realized I wasn’t kidding. Ah, the barcode on the packaging, got it! I wrote down everything they needed as she talked, hung up, and had no idea what any of it really meant.”

Later that month, the first official orders were received.

“We received $123,000 in orders from the garden center show, and $200,000 in orders for our 200-store test. It was about 70,000 units total. It was this thrilling, exhilarating moment – at least for a little bit. Then, it was panic. Now what?”

Production & First Shipments

Having never manufactured, produced, or shipped products, the weeks that followed were a tremendous learning experience and real-world lessons in business.

“If it weren’t for the many people that I was fortunate to be introduced to around this time that had some background in parts of what I was trying to do, and even ended up providing initial capital, it wouldn’t have ended up working out.”

A few months later, the first containers of product arrived.

“My aunt had a warehouse at her office that we were able to use to unload the containers and ship out product. It was extremely exciting - product was actually here. I watched the first container pull into the parking lot, we opened the container doors, and hopped up to start unloading it.”

It was shortly thereafter that things took a turn.

“After about 10 or so cartons were taken out of the container, a feeling of disbelief sunk in. Every single carton had a typo. Not a small typo, a typo on the brand logo. Everything was printed Ray Radula. Every single carton.”

That was just the beginning.

“We picked a carton, opened it up, and it didn’t get much better. The product was attached to the cards with a tiny twist tie, not a zip tie - more like something you'd see on a loaf of bread, with half the products having fell off the card. The packaging was printed incorrectly. Some products didn’t even have packaging – they were just lying in the carton. Products that were supposed to be a in a display tray were not. Some products were random colors. Pretty much every single product and carton was wrong. All of this product, all of these orders, and we couldn’t ship any of it. I’ll never forget the email we received back about this, basically saying “you should have been clearer on the specifications.” That was a very fast, hard lesson.”

Replacement packaging and cartons were printed and sent.

“We ended up unpacking every single carton, zip-tied and re-packed every product to new packaging, new displayers, and repacked cartons. There were mountains of products laying everywhere. For a good three weeks, every single day, family, friends, everyone, and anyone that I knew all spent every night and weekend re-packaging thousands of products, until 2, 3, 4 in the morning. If it weren’t for that, those would have been our first and last orders. More than 10 years later, it’s something that’s still talked and laughed about. It wasn’t too funny at the time.”

Everything was corrected, and product was finally able to be shipped. The first Ray Padula products arrived in-stores that Spring in 2009, and when they did, sales took off.

“Once our products finally made it in-store, sales were really great. We ended up out-selling projections, and other competitive products in the store.”

National Distribution

Continuing with the momentum of the launch of the brand, Ray continued to attempt to meet with other retailers, hired some of the first team members, opened a small office, and began participating in industry trade shows to market the company.

“We exhibited in our first industry trade show in 2009, which opened a lot of doors to meet many significant people in the industry and retail. On the second day of the show, there were a few people in our booth, and I was approached with a quick “tell me about all this, what’s the vision?” It was a great 20 minute conversation. We shook hands, they took my business card, and left. A few minutes later someone from the booth across the aisle came over to ask how I knew them? I said I didn’t, and realized that throughout the whole conversation, I blanked, and never ask where they worked, or for a card. Turned out, they were executives for the seasonal department at a national retailer we really wanted to meet with.”

They ended up emailing, and an invitation was given to make a pitch.

In the Spring of 2010, the Ray Padula brand and 34 products were launched nationally in 1,300 stores in partnership with Kmart.

“The email from Kmart saying that we were awarded their business for the 2010 season and would be the only watering brand in the store is still in my office today. It was one of the most exciting days. That program truly launched us as a company and brand, and their great support and partnership for the many years that followed is something that’s a significant part of our success and sparked what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.”

The products sold much better than expected, and the Kmart program continued to expand to include an entire aisle with over 80 products in-store, expanding the brand across many garden categories as the Ray Padula company continued to grow.

Over the years since, Ray Padula has continued to grow into a leading lawn and garden brand across the United States in close partnerships with many of the nation's leading retailers.

Hello Canada!

In 2017 the Ray Padula brand grew across the border and was officially launched in Canada in 2017 in partnership with Lowe’s.

Since then, the brand has enjoyed great success and favor across the country. Gardeners across Canada can find the largest selection of Ray Padula products today at Walmart.

Ventures in eCommerce & Brand Expansion

In April 2021, Ray Padula Holdings announced the launch of its DTC (direct-to-consumer) ecommerce division, with the unveiling of the all new raypadula.com.

“This initiative has been in development for quite some time, and we’re extremely excited and optimistic for this expansion of the brand. During the past year, like many other national brands, we have seen an explosion of growth in our online retail channels. Even more exciting is that there has been a tremendous amount of new people actively participating in the lawn and garden category with millions of new millennial gardeners. We're very eager to connect, engage, and partner with these new gardeners and provide the solutions needed to grow their dream yard.”

The new site and division have been created to further extend the brand relationship the company enjoys with current as well as future customers.

“Whether you are visiting our site to shop, visiting for lawn and garden inspiration and advice, or visiting for product support, the site was engineered as an immersive experience to meet your complete needs of everything lawn and garden.”

The Ray Padula Company Today

Today, the Ray Padula Company has grown to become one of the leading brands and suppliers of innovative lawn and garden products across multiple categories throughout North America. Ray Padula products can be found at leading in-store and online retailers, as well as raypadula.com.

“It’s been quite the journey so far of great successes, many stumbling blocks, tons of lessons, and we’re just getting started! All of us here are tremendously grateful for all the opportunities and support that has been shown to us along the way. We're looking forward to continuing our mission to provide innovative lawn and garden products, become every gardener's choice of brand, and inspiring people everywhere to dig in and grow their dream yard. We can’t wait to see all of the growth and success the future holds.”

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