About a year and a half ago, the father and son team of Glenn and Travis Rutherford opened the door to The Rutherford James Group, a brand extension, licensing, and strategic consulting firm. The company is an amalgamation of Glenn Rutherford’s Logan James, Ltd., and Travis Rutherford’s Travis James, LLC, companies. Both principles bring decades of experience in the licensing business to the new company, which already has offices in California, Colorado, and Dubai. Glenn Rutherford, chairman and co-founder of The Rutherford James Group, takes a moment to talk to Royaltie$ about what sets the company apart and what’s on tap for a new company run by industry veterans.
Paul Narula: What sets The Rutherford James Group apart from other firms?
Glenn Rutherford: The thing that makes us a little different is that our roots are really on the licensee side of the licensing business. We understand what the licensee goes through and what their needs are, not just the licensor. I’ve been working in this industry since the 1950s and I’ve worked on both sides of the business. I’ve even been in manufacturing, so I know the struggles that a manufacturer has to go through as well. We also have a great deal of experience on Travis’ side from the businesses and companies that he worked for (which include MGM, DreamWorks, and Disney). We can put his experience and mine together as an all-around offering to our clients that proves we can pretty much do anything.
P.N.: You have a wide variety of clients on your roster, ranging from home furnishing brands such as Claire Murray to baby brands such as Trois Moutons. What is your approach to licensing such different types of brands?
G.R.: We always keep our profile in the background. We will always push the client and make sure that it’s their name that comes to mind first when it comes to licensing. We will work to establish a brand and a licensing program and then make sure that all the focus is on our client’s success, not ours. In addition, when we put together a project, we don’t hand things down to junior executives or assistants—all of our licensing deals are overseen by one of the company’s principles.
P.N.: From your point of view as a veteran of the licensing industry, what do you feel are the most important factors in licensing right now?
G.R.: I think the biggest and most recent change is the concern about ownership. When I first started, everything was modeled after the agent. I used to say that I was the “landlord of the brand”—I looked after the property and then I collected the rent. But now, I’m really more like a marriage broker. I get [a licensor and licensee] engaged, get them married, and hope they go the distance (because if they don’t go the distance, nobody gets any money!). Licensors are much more concerned about maintaining ownership and control of a brand these days. I’ve seen this happening more and more as companies in the business of licensing work to establish their own properties and Travis has seen it happening since his days at Disney.
P.N.: What’s on the horizon for The Rutherford James Group?
G.R.: We’ve got several new things in the works. One of them is Dorothy of Oz, the upcoming sequel to The Wizard of Oz. Travis will be handling that, with his experience in the entertainment side of the business. We are also partners with Greenscreen Animals (GSA) in developing a licensing program for the use of their green-screened footage of animals in film, television, advertising, and more. We’re also expanding our international business. South Korea has an absolutely huge consumer market and we’re looking for brands that will do well in that new environment.