Photo by Steven Swanson
It’s a good thing that Dan Casterella is passionate about Christmas. Because at American Christmas in Mount Vernon, a custom holiday-display design firm, it’s Christmas year-round. While your Christmas decorations are gathering dust in the attic, Casterella is working around the clock to make sure stores across the country will have beautiful, festive storefront displays come the holiday season.
Casterella joined American Christmas nine years ago as a production assistant, sorting ornaments and installing holiday sets at stores in the New York region. American Christmas designs and sells customized displays for clients including Radio City Music Hall and the New York Stock Exchange.
After moving up the ladder to logistics director during his first holiday season there (just one of four promotions he’s had), Casterella couldn’t bear the post-holiday lull. So, in 2007, he went out and established relationships with huge national retail chains. “In February, I started callin prospective clients, and I built a personal business plan that established sales goals for the next three years.” It paid off. Today, thanks to Casterella’s efforts, American Christmas teams up with national retailers like Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Cartier. The work earned him his biggest promotion to date: senior director of national retail sales and client services.
To fulfill the demands of their new national retail clients, Casterella traveled to Asia, where he established relationships with factories in China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines. He calls it “international sourcing and development,” but regardless, the effect has been, in his words, educational. “When we meet with clients, I can say, ‘I have a factory in X that can do that for you; no problem.” It seems to be working: National sales for American Christmas have doubled since Casterella was promoted.
“I wish I had more people in my office with his hunger and his desire,” says American Christmas CEO Fred Schwam. “He’s an integral part of my future business plans.”