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Vector Marketing

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Vector Marketing
Industry Sales
Founded 1981
Headquarters Olean, New York, US
Key people
  • Albert DiLeonardo (CEO & President - Vector West)
  • Bruce Goodman (Vector East)
  • John Whelpley (COO)
Parent Cutco Corporation

Vector Marketing is a multi-level marketing subsidiary company and the domestic sales arm of Cutco Corporation, an Olean, New York-based cutlery manufacturer.[2][3] Vector Marketing Corporation is the company’s sales division. ALCAS Corporation is the parent company.[4]


Vector Marketing Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cutco Corporation. The firm originated in a joint venture between Alcoa and Case Cutlery known as Alcas Corporation.[5] In 1947, It completed a factory in Olean, New York, and shipped the first set of Cutco Cutlery that year. In 1974, Alcoa purchased Case Cutlery's share of Alcas.[6]

In 1982, members of Alcas management purchased the firm in a management buyout, and in 1985 they acquired Vector Marketing,[citation needed] originally an independent distributor of Cutco Cutlery founded in 1981.[7] In 2009, Alcas changed its name to Cutco Corporation, with Vector its domestic sales subsidiary.[5]

As of 2011, Vector has more than 200 offices throughout the U.S. and contracts about 60,000 student workers each year to perform entry-level sales work.[7]

Entry-level program[edit]

Vector offers a program every summer that primarily consists of students and is set up to pay it's employees by commission. This program is designed to provide students with real-world skills and a more marketable job.[8] Employees sell CUTCO cutlery by providing in-home personal demonstrations.[9]

Business model[edit]

Vector Marketing is a multi-level marketing company that builds its sales force through advertising via newspapers, direct marketing, word-of-mouth, posted advertisements, letters and various media on the internet.[2][10][11][12] They recruit sales representatives from high schools and college campuses in the United States and Canada, sometimes through misrepresentation of affiliation with the school.[7] Students are employed as independent contractors to sell Cutco products (mainly kitchen knives) to customers, typically their friends and family members, via one-on-one demonstrations.[7][13]

Some of Vector's former independent contractors have accused Vector Marketing of deceptive business practices.[14][15] The firm frequently advertises in newspapers and on fliers posted on bulletin boards at college campuses, but seldom do those advertisements explain the nature of the job.[16]

In addition to vague job descriptions, Vector Marketing's compensation policies are often criticized. Vector Marketing previously required sales representatives to make a refundable security deposit to procure a set of knives for demonstrations. However the practices have changed and representatives are no longer required to make a security deposit. They are loaned knives as well as given some as prizes for their "Fast Start" sales achievements.[14][15][17][18] Students who work for Vector Marketing as independent contractors are not reimbursed for transportation expenses and other common business expenses while working, or for the time they spend at training sessions.[11][14]


Vector Marketing has been sued several times. In 2003, a recruit who was successful in a lawsuit against Vector for failing to adhere to labor laws in New York, co-founded a group, Students Against Vector Exploitation (SAVE).[19] In 2008, Alicia Harris filed a federal class action lawsuit against Vector. Harris alleged that Vector violated California and federal labor law by failing to pay adequate wages and illegally coercing employees into patronizing the company.[20] The case, Harris v. Vector Marketing Corporation, is pending a final settlement approval for US$13 million before Judge Edward M. Chen.[21][22] Vector was sued in 1990 by the Arizona Attorney General.[23] Arizona and Vector agreed to a settlement that punctuated a series of state actions against Vector's Tucson manager that spanned seven years. Vector agreed not to misrepresent its compensation system as part of the settlement.[24][dubious ] In 1994, Wisconsin ordered Vector to stop providing dishonest information to recruits.[7]


  1. ^ "Our Leadership". Vector Marketing. Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  2. ^ a b Moret, Darrin (September 6, 2013). "Did I Participate In A Pyramid Scheme?". Popular Science. Retrieved May 31, 2017. 
  3. ^ Behm, Carly (October 19, 2016). "Students Question Company's On-Campus Recruiting". Loyola Phoenix. Retrieved May 31, 2017. 
  4. ^ Crittenden, Victoria L.; Crittenden, William F. (July 2008). "Building a capable organization: The eight levers of strategy implementation". Business Horizons. 51 (4): 301–309. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2008.02.003. 
  5. ^ a b Shaw, Jeff (December 20, 2008). "Alcas changing its name to Cutco". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved May 26, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Vector Marketing - Our Company". Vector Marketing. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Robbins, Rebecca (August 2, 2011). "The Company that Cuts Both Ways". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  8. ^ Gunn, Eileen (2008-08-05). "Summer Job: Nice Pay, if You Can Cut It". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  9. ^ Walker, Rob. "A Seller's Edge". Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  10. ^ Kellman, Beth Robinson (April 2, 2010). "Better Business Bureau offers advice on multilevel marketing". The Oakland Press. Oakland County, Michigan. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Deal, A. Matthew (September 26, 2006). "High wages for student work – but beware". Campus News. The Carolinian. p. 1. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  12. ^ Gunn, Eileen (August 5, 2008). "Summer Job: Nice Pay, if You Can Cut It". The Wall Street Journal. p. D4. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ Episode 10. Street Cents, January 14, 2002 Online copy at the Internet Archive
  14. ^ a b c Lucchesi, Nick (February 4, 2004). "Vector Marketing targets unaware college students". News. The Journal. Archived from the original on 28 June 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b da Costa, Polyana (August 21, 2004). "Firm misled sales recruits to sell knives, students say". Salem Statesman-Journal. Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. 
  16. ^ Holt, Shirleen (February 22, 2004). "Help-wanted pitch may have surprise curve". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Vector Marketing - Got Questions?". Vector Marketing. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  18. ^ Anderson, Matt (October 6, 2004). "Vector policies questionable". MTSU Sidelines. p. 1. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  19. ^ Gripenstraw, Kelsey (April 20, 2011). "Beware of Campus Scams". The Bottom Line. University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  20. ^ Chen, Edward M. (September 4, 2009). "Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment". Harris v. Vector Marketing Corporation. United States District Court for the Northern District of California 
  21. ^ "Court opinion". Harris v. Vector Marketing Corporation. May 5, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Preliminary approval of $13 million settlement granted despite concerns". May 31, 2011. Retrieved Feb 5, 2012. 
  23. ^ Wellman, Paul. "The Company That Cuts Both Ways". Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  24. ^ McKay, Peter (1996-07-01). "For Vector Marketing, The Question of the Hour". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-26. 

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