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Big Deal

Landing the sole distribution rights for a foreign product.

A random sighting of unique Italian sandals poolside in Miami Beach, Florida, turned into a successful exclusive distributorship for Joseph Reina, co-owner with wife Laurie and son Mike of Sensi Inc., a footwear distributor in Tempe, Arizona.

A friend of Reina's first noticed the sandals on the feet of a sunbathing American Airlines pilot in the summer of 1983. Upon further inquiry, Reina discovered the distinctive plastic sandals were produced by Sensi & Co., a footwear manufacturer in Italy. Convinced the sandals could take the U.S. market by storm, he flew to Italy to meet Lorenzo Sensi, owner and creator. There he formed the foundation for a healthy partnership and obtained the exclusive distribution rights for North America. In March 1984, the first shipment reached American shores.

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Big Deal.

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