WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — There’s a good chance each shopping trip you make is affected in one way or another by Inmar and its CEO, David Mounts.
Inmar (which is a combination of the words “innovation” and “marketing”) started in Winston-Salem nearly 35 years ago by the son of a Reynolds Tobacco executive, John Whitaker, who realized there were problems and tension between manufacturers and retailers when it came to the handling of coupons.
“John recognized there were a lot of defects in the way the industry handled coupons,” says Inmar CEO and Chairman David Mounts. “There was fraud, pretty inefficient.”
So Inmar — using computer technology — essentially became the liaison between manufacturers and retailers when it comes to processing or “clearing” coupons.
Mounts describes the process this way: “You walk into the store. Instead of giving money for the product you give (the cashier) the paper coupon. The coupon goes into the cash drawer. Then, it’s sent to Inmar, which validates the coupon, notifies the manufacturer and takes the money from the manufacturer, sends that money to the retailer and makes the retailer whole for the money that you, as a consumer, did not pay.”
Inmar does that with 2.5 billion coupons every year.
Inmar may also be involved on the other side of your transaction — especially if you don’t like the item and return it. The store then sends that item to one of Inmar’s 30 return centers across the country. Inmar makes sure the retailer’s reimbursed and the item’s returned to the manufacturer or sold to low-cost dollar stores or overstock stores.
Inmar’s Healthcare Division or “Network” is also helping drug manufacturers and pharmacies process purchases and returns.
Inmar currently employs 4,500 people nationwide and 900 in Winston-Salem. Mounts says finding qualified, local people is his company’s biggest challenge.
“We’re still having to recruit people from outside of the community to come in. That makes it more challenging to get the talent in,” he says. “I would love for all of those positions to be here in Winston-Salem.”