Employees at Seattle-based Zoom ID were a little surprised when NFL Hall of Famer Deion “Prime Time” Sanders called the company’s customer service line, but that didn’t stop them from whipping up a rush order of custom varsity jackets for the style-savvy retired athlete and coach of Prime Prep Academy, a Dallas charter school he co-founded.
“He called us back and said [his jacket] was the coolest thing he ever saw. … Of all the things he’s ever worn, this one got the most cool comments from friends,” says Cory Dean, owner of Zoom ID and several other narrowly focused companies that collectively bring in more than $15 million a year and provide everything from digitizing to custom patches and lapel pins.
It was the embroidered patch business, HPI Emblem (asi/62066), that led Dean to branch into custom varsity jackets. “It’s a natural progression from patches,” Dean says. “We’re always moving up to a higher-value product and trying to make it easy for our customers to do complicated things.”
Many dealers had given up on varsity jackets because it was too complex to customize patches and sew them individually onto the jacket, Dean says. Zoom ID developed an online designer app and streamlined the manufacturing process, trimming weeks off traditional lead times, while still custom-making each jacket in three weeks, according to the company’s website.
Sanders was so impressed with the quality of Zoom ID’s work that he volunteered to promote the company. In a testimonial video on Zoom ID’s home page, the NFL network analyst, clad in a red-and-black letterman jacket, sings Zoom ID’s praises, calling his decision to place an order with the company “a no-brainer.” Zoom ID is negotiating a partnership with Sanders.