JC Sales, led by CEO Sesilia Song and Chairman James Shim, a one-stop-shop wholesaler with annual sales exceeding $200 million, marked its 30th anniversary on September 27.
JC Sales has consistently held its position as the top company in the wholesale industry and earned recognition as the No. 12 Minority Business Enterprise by the Los Angeles Business Journal in both 2021 and 2022. With 240 employees, it stands as a mid-sized enterprise.
The company’s clientele comprises over 3,000 discount stores, small retailers, and major retail chains, including prominent names like 99 Cent and Dollar Store. JC Sales has particularly established a strong presence in the wholesale market, excelling in categories such as detergent, health and beauty products.
JC Sales had humble beginnings as a small retail store. In 1990, Chairman James Shim launched his venture with a single retail store in Van Nuys. As the business expanded to three locations, Shim made a daring move into the wholesale sector. In 1995, the company relocated to its current headquarters in Vernon, laying the foundation for its growth as a full-fledged wholesale entity.
Sales experienced rapid growth thereafter, with annual revenue skyrocketing by 500 to 600 percent in the early years, ultimately reaching $10 million by the late 1990s. According to the company, its annual sales reached $201.8 million last year, continuing to grow at an average annual rate of 3%.
At the heart of the company’s sustained growth, even in the face of economic downturns, is Sesilia Song, JC Sales’ fourth CEO. A lawyer and former partner at Ernst & Young, as well as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Song joined the company in 2021.
Song attributes the company’s rapid growth as a wholesale specialist and its resilience during the 2008 financial crisis to a customer-centric approach to management. “The company’s fundamental business philosophy revolves around providing highly customized services to our customers,” she emphasized. “Prioritizing customers over profit has been the key to our success.”
JC Sales’ customer-centric approach has been groundbreaking. In the 1990s, in response to customer needs, the company increased its workforce to expedite order pickups, enhancing convenience for customers. During the pandemic, when customers were reopening their businesses, JC Sales introduced same-day pickup, allowing customers to purchase and retrieve goods on the same day.
Despite its origins as a company founded by first-generation Korean immigrants, JC Sales’ ability to adapt to changing times, business landscapes and its own growth has played a significant role in its prosperity. With the aim of expanding its presence in the mainstream market, including retailers like Walmart, JC Sales progressively adjusted its management structure to align with contemporary practices. To venture into the mainstream market while preserving its organizational culture, the company gradually recruited CEOs familiar with American corporate culture.
“We now plan to break through the entry barriers of large retail chains with a two-pronged strategy, offering not only cost-effective products but also high-quality items,” Song said.
JC Sales also remains dedicated to Chairman Shim’s philosophy of giving back to the community. Each year, the company donates 10 to 15 percent of its annual earnings to charitable causes. Beneficiaries include nonprofit organizations such as Gloria World Mission, TASSEL (which provides English education to Cambodian children), Lifeline, and the Korean Family Counseling Center.
BY EUNYOUNG LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]