On Thursday, May 13th, hosts Meredith Moore and Pat Romboletti were honored to welcome Maxine Burton, president and founder of burton + BURTON™, a family-owned and -operated business since 1982 based in Bogart, Georgia that is one of the largest suppliers of balloons and coordinating gift products in the world. With husband Bob serving as CEO and with son and daughter working in the business, Maxine’s company offers more than 15,000 products including latex and foil balloons, ribbon, floral supplies, plush ceramics and baskets.
burton + BURTON™ is imbued with family. It is the essential characteristic of its corporate culture. “The business is important because it supports us, but family is the main thing,” said Maxine. Very early, she realized that since her customers were mostly family-owned businesses, they liked knowing her family. So her children often traveled to gift shows with her and Bob. Now her two grandchildren do. The children greet customers at parties and hand out cookies to them. Their pictures appear in catalogues and they inspire product design. And not to be out-done by the younger generations, her mother still works at the company—arriving every morning at 6:00!
This total family approach permeates the relationship with employees. “I want to know all my employees and their families,” Maxine said. “We like to say that we work hard and play hard.” She is a big proponent of in-house wellness programs, like high-blood pressure checks and mammograms. burton + BURTON™ also has had an in-house beauty salon since 1987. “It’s important for our employees to feel beautiful. They’re on the front lines—the clients are not only talking to me. Besides, any company can have a product. Our people are actually the number one thing we’re selling,” she said.
Because of Maxine’s collegiate background preparing to be a teacher, she is a big believer in education, even to the point of developing a Balloon University held each July at the Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago gift markets. “It’s where we educate our customers on how to use our products. We also hold business and design classes. It makes sense to us because we need our clients to be profitable. I see it as a big circle,” Maxine explained.
During the current recession, burton + BURTON™ had to make changes, like every other business. “We had to do more with less,” she said. “But we do see the recession coming to an end. We had tremendous January shows, especially compared to last year.” One tactic Maxine pursued throughout the downturn, though, was to continue to develop new products. “Our customers want to see what’s new, regardless of the economic climate,” she said.
There is so much more to the story—from philanthropy to the story of how Maxine and her company dedicate themselves to continuously designing new and exciting products. So please download the hour-long discussion. We are certain Maxine’s enthusiasm for her business, her family, her employees and her customers and her commitment to her community will inspire you.
Maxine Burton, President and Founder, burton + BURTON™, 325 Cleveland Rd., Bogart, GA 706-548-1588