B A R T E R
in the Making
By Marcia Layton Turner
t e p h e n E . W e b s t e r, He accomplished this by steadily through the years,” Webster
president and CEO taking an active role in industry noted, “but the increase we’ve seen
of RTE, Corporate associations, encouraging his staff in new clients during the past year
Barter Group, is a well- to invest in their own professional has driven us to update how we do
re c o g n i z e d n a m e i n development, such as earning business. One of those updates has
the barter industry. An C e r t i f i e d Tra d e B ro k e r ( C T B ) been the name change.”
I RTA Ha l l o f F a m e i n d u c t e e , h e status, and forming long-term Consequently on July 15, 2002,
h a s h e l d n u m e ro u s l e a d e r s h i p relationships with clients. RT E o f f i c i a l l y b e c a m e A l l i a n c e
p o s i t i o n s w i t h i n t h e i n d u s t r y, As his company began an Barter, Inc. Along with the name
i n c l u d i n g p re s i d e n t o f b o t h t h e aggressive international expansion change came the establishment
In t e r n a t i o n a l Re c i p ro c a l Tra d e plan earlier this year, he felt it was of a new Canadian office in
A s s o c i a t i o n ( I RTA ) a n d t h e time for a corporate name change. To ro n t o a n d a n e x p a n d e d s a l e s
Na t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f Tra d e RTE had outgrown its roots and no s t a f f c h a r g e d w i t h g row i n g t h e
Exchanges (NATE). l o n g e r re f l e c t e d t h e c o m p a n y ’s client base in Upstate New York.
For nearly 25 years, Webster has future direction. A l l i a n c e i s h e a d q u a r t e re d i n
d e m o n s t ra t e d h i s ow n p e r s o n a l I t w a s t h e c o m p a n y ’s n e w Rochester and has offices in
commitment to the industr y, his direction that prompted the name Buffalo and Syracuse, with plans
employees, and his clients. change. “Our company has grown for future expansion.
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A L L I A N C E B A R T E R
From Barter Pioneer
formation of the International Reciprocal numerous trade exchanges had been
tephen Webster’s foray into barter
began in 1978 when he became one Trade Association (IRTA), and a acquired.
of the first members of International founding member of the National For various reasons the effort fell short.
Trade Exchange (ITE), a franchise Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE). Those involved, along with RTE, were
operating in Rochester. “In fact,” he In 1991 the company name was forced to turn their focus back to staying
disclosed, “the entire barter industry transitioned to RTE, Corporate Barter on track. Webster was unwilling to walk
started as a franchise opportunity.” away from the failed venture without
The following year, after acquiring ITE, Stephen Webster making some kind of change.
Webster changed the name to Rochester “I initially became involved in the
Trade Exchange and began operating as was an early consolidation venture as a way to
an independent. He subsequently became participant in the encourage change industrywide—change
president and sole stockholder. By 1991, that I saw as necessary and beneficial for
after solidifying the Rochester customer formation of IRTA all the participants,” Webster recalled.
base, the company had expanded to and a founding “But if industrywide change was stalled,
Syracuse, Buffalo and the New York we were at least going to rejuvenate our
Southern Tier. member of NATE. own company.”
As the firm continued to grow
under Webster’s leadership, he took an Group...both for simplicity and to
ever-increasing role within the industry, de-emphasize its Rochester connection
“I initially became
forming partnerships and alliances with which represented a smaller percentage involved in the
national barter companies, regional of the company’s total sales each year.
exchanges and corporate clients.
He also was an early participant in the A Turning Point venture as a way to
A pivotal year for RTE was 1999 as encourage change
that was when the company became a
participant in an industry roll-up. More
than $150 million was raised by venture
RTE management carefully analyzed its
capitalists to consolidate the barter
own situation and crafted a new business
industry with the goal of moving online.
plan. As a result, three major decisions
That multi-million dollar investment
were made: change the company’s name,
was used to develop proprietary software
expand geographic coverage, and
and technology to enable an online
redirect marketing efforts toward mid-
barter network, along with building the
sized and larger corporations.
infrastructure for a major consolidation.
As the dot-com craze was in full swing,
The Reinvention Process
RTE along with nearly half of the barter
industry were targeted for the roll-up By leveraging its nearly 25-year
effort. An initial public offering (IPO) association within the small business
was anticipated for 2001, once the community, RTE’s aim was to capture a
S t e p h e n We b s t e r, C E O o f A l l i a n c e infrastructure was in place and the piece of the growing amount of barter
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A L L I A N C E B A R T E R
growth potential for the company.
“We’re forming alliances with other As vice president of operations, Meranto
companies, enabling us to create and helps ensure that the business functions
smoothly by overseeing the internal
service major accounts.” workings. During his more than 16 years
with Alliance, Meranto has worked in most
conducted with larger corporations. history, alliances have made our growth operational areas of the company from
But in order to service existing and possible and we believe they will be the marketing and information technology
larger clients, RTE needed to have a direct key to our future success as well.” to sales and planning.
or indirect presence in the cities where He was most recently involved in
the corporations were operating. Secrets Of Success upgrading the firm’s technology
Webster elaborated, “We’re forming infrastructure, expanding staffing, and
One of the reasons Webster believes his developing the business’ strategic plan.
alliances with other companies, enabling
trade exchange has been so successful Despite the rapid new client growth,
us to create and service major
through the years is the longevity of the Meranto has expertly handled the
accounts...many of which are located
staff. Many of the senior brokers have transaction processing and resource
in major cities.”
been with him for more than 15 years; the management so that operations run
Although regional history and locations
of head of the Syracuse branch, Trade seamlessly.
were a strong base for its existing small to
Director Sandy Giannuzzi, has achieved Robin Maini, newly appointed vice
mid-sized business clientele, pursuing
the milestone of 25 years in the industry. president of business development, has
larger corporate business would require
“We have brokers who have represented taken on the responsibility of cultivating
additional locations and increased staff.
us for years, developing long-term corporate business, as well as continuing
As a result, RTE made the commitment
relationships with our clients. Those to expand the company’s retail base in
to hire the experienced sales and
relationships help generate more business Canada and the United States.
marketing staff necessary to succeed in
for our clients because we really get to A Canadian citizen, Maini operated one
the targeted corporate market as well as
know them over the course of several of the largest exchanges in Canada and
to expand geographically. Hence, the new
years,” declared Webster. most recently held executive positions
Canadian operations were formed from
Webster has recently handed over the with a European-based barter company.
which international trading can be
responsibility for day-to-day operations During his 15 years in the barter
managed and encouraged.
and new business development to industry industry his expertise was honed in
veterans Ralph Meranto and Robin training and business development. One
Many of the senior Maini. By relying on the expertise and of his responsibilities at Alliance will
brokers have been knowledge these managers bring to the include acquiring mid-sized clients,
table, Webster anticipates tremendous internationally.
with the company
for more than 15
The Name Change
“As we considered what name would be
right for the next phase of our company’s
development, the word alliance seemed
to keep coming up,” Webster reflected.
“We felt it was an accurate description of
how we do business on a daily basis, and
how we want to work in the future.
“We want to create alliances with
our clients, other barter companies,
corporations, real estate ventures, and
financial institutions. Throughout our Webster often deals with the press on behalf of Alliance Barter.
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A L L I A N C E B A R T E R
L-R: Ralph Meranto, Robin Maini, and Stephen Webster.
The Future transforming Alliance, just as it is involve real estate, stock, corporate
transforming the barter industry as a assets of all types, as well as future
Alliance Barter currently has 1,500 whole. Increased computing power and rights. Moving beyond pure product and
clients and expects that number to information flow is making trading service trades is opening-up entirely new
quickly grow to 2,000 by the first quarter quicker and easier. avenues of growth for the company.
of 2003. Management is evaluating
acquisition candidates in mid-sized “Our latest expansion plan is really a
and larger markets to enhance and
complement its growth strategy. testament to the power of alliances.
Target companies that benefit most Whether they’re with employees, clients,
from joining a trade exchange include
those with under-utilized capacity, such associates or suppliers. This is where our
as printers, restaurants and airlines; future lies.”
those with excess inventory, such as
manufacturers and distributors; or those It is also heightening interest in the use “Our latest expansion plan is really a
with new product or service introductions. of secondary capital...which includes testament to the power of alliances,”
“Our growth in 2002 will also be non-traditional forms of money such as affirmed Webster, “whether they’re
propelled by a major investment in new stocks, scrip, and notes. with employees, clients, associates or
technology,” reported Webster. “We’re While the economic doldrums suppliers. This is where our future lies.”
continue, companies will be forced to BN
“Our growth this year explore new sources of revenue, with
barter being one very viable option.
will also be propelled Webster sees this as a prime Corporate name:
by a major investment opportunity for clients of the barter Alliance Barter, Inc.
industry. “Wherever you see capital
in new technology.” constraints, excess inventory, or a need
Year established: 1978
for market penetration, barter can be a Number of clients: 1,500
currently evaluating new software to valuable solution.” Number of employees: 25
better link our offices and clients as Alliance is positioning itself to Web site: www.alliancebarter.com
well as facilitate larger transactions.” facilitate those transactions and is
I n f o r m a t i o n t e c h n o l o g y is actively pursuing corporate deals that
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