Looking for some strategies to help your business succeed in this difficult economy? ASI’s Andrew Cohen and Joe Haley highlight some of the successful tactics that distributors are using to weather the current storm – and come out on top.Click here to watch the video.
Despite difficult economic times, members of the promotional apparel industry have found a way to give back to their community. OOBE, an apparel design company headquartered in Greenville, SC, recently partnered with Signatures, Inc., a custom embroidery and apparel supplier in neighboring Mauldin, SC, to honor the unsung heroes of public education in Greenville, Anderson and Pickens counties. The program, implemented by Tom Merritt, the co-founder and principal of OOBE, distributed free shirts to all public school employees in the district over a three-month period.
“Such an initiative was labor intensive and took the time and effort of countless people” says Oby G. Lyles, director of communications for Greenville County Schools. “Both OOBE and Signatures bent over backwards to meet the needs of about 9,000 employees.” Each employee could choose the color and size shirt they wanted.
The logistics of distributing the shirts across three counties were daunting, but rewarding for those involved. Jeanette Peterson of Signatures, Inc. supplied the necessary equipment and countless hours to embroider either the district or individual school logo on thousands of shirts, based on each employee’s preference. When asked about the scale of such a project, Peterson says, “The large scale of this project and the number of shirts that had to be imprinted was very challenging.” Operating a small business with only six employees, Peterson did run into some snags, but says, “It was rewarding to read the cards and the genuine appreciation everyone felt, especially the lunch ladies and bus drivers who are usually forgotten. It was even more rewarding to do this for people in my own community.”
The words of enthusiasm by those involved speak to the success of such an initiative. “It is important to support each other,” Lyles says. “Public schools do not work in isolation from their communities and employee appreciation is an important part of giving back.”
To generate the same goodwill (and brand recognition), apparel companies nationwide can contribute to projects in their communities in an effort to benefit those receiving products and services. Community service has always been on Peterson’s “do to” list, she says: “I have done smaller projects before, and would like to do something on a smaller scale in the future. I was able to meet people and have opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I were not a part of this project.”
California to Raise Sales Tax
California's legislature recently approved a 1% sales tax hike, increasing what was already among the highest state tax rates in the nation. The change, effective April 1, will raise the California sales tax to a temporary minimum of 8.25%. Although the increase is designed to help close a $42 billion budget deficit, it could worsen the business climate, especially for distributors in the state. "I definitely think it is going to have an impact," says Jean Obad, owner of Diamond Stitch (asi/180213). "New customers shopping around are the ones looking at the bottom line for estimates. They'll want to order smaller quantities or shop online."
Mike Juels, president of Corporate Images (asi/169081), believes the tax hike will have a major effect. "This is just another dagger in our hearts," Juels says. "California sales tax is due when billed versus when collected. A distributor is prepaying sales tax. We're paying it before we even collect the funds from our customers."
The change in sales tax will mostly affect California-based companies. Distributors who buy products from California suppliers will not have to pay the tax unless the products are sent to an end-user in California. In addition to the sales tax increase, the budget also includes a hike in vehicle license fees, which will likely affect companies with a large number of trucks. Technically, both the vehicle and sales tax increases will expire within two or three years, depending on the outcome of upcoming state referendums. "The business climate is really ugly out there," Juels says.
Cold Call Tips
Here are five top tips to remember when you’re making the rounds:
1. Bring color cards: “If you’re doing cold calls or samples in a client’s store, get actual color cards,” says Ginny Fineberg, owner of Sandpiper Embroidery. “When you see the colors in print, they’re not the same as the actual fabric. We’ll give our customers a color card notebook so there are no surprises. You can put the threads up to the actual sample.”
2. Consider transportation needs: “I think the hardest part of getting your sample in this kind of industry is transporting, just because some things tend to be bulky,” says Sandee Pineda, president of Zigzag Inc. “If I have my preference, I’d much rather have them come in to my shop. There are a lot more choices for them to look at.”
3. Bring catalogs: “Some people who don’t have a very large business don’t get a lot of catalogs given to them, but you can ask many suppliers when you order, ‘Can I have a couple of catalogs?’” Pineda says. “When we buy a lot of merchandise, our supplier gives us printed catalogs for free. It’s really important to have enough catalogs when you do a sales call.”
4. Consider a logo or imprint when quoting price: “Of course, the other problem with cold call sales is they always want to know price,” Pineda says. “It depends. It depends on their logo and how many stitches. People who aren’t familiar want to know how much it’s going to cost them. So that would be an easy mistake, to quote somebody without having their logo.”
5. Be creative: “The best way to grow your business is to give them a sample hat in addition to the polo shirts,” Pineda says. “And nine times out of 10, you’ll get an order for hats.”
Sell To: It’s ideal for use as a recreation league uniform, working out in the gym or as a practice shirt for basketball teams in school and city leagues.
Style Tip: This sleeveless shooter T-shirt (9077) features a ribbed collar with a double-needle stitched neckline, armhole and bottom hem for added durability. It also has shoulder to shoulder taping.
[ NEWS BRIEFS ]
Barudan America introduced its newest single head, Elite Pro II, a 15-needle compact single head sewing at speeds as fast as 1,300 stitches-per-minute on flaps and 1,000 stitcher-per-minute on caps. The company also launched its new Web site, designed for users to view products and all the specifications offered. For more information, visit www.barudan.com.
Heritage Sportswear(asi/60582)offers FREE shipping on Web-placed orders of $150 and more, with the exception of basic white T-shirts and discounted merchandise, through September 30, 2009.
Hirsch International hosts Hirsch Direct-To-Garment Hands-On Expo at its Phoenix location Thursday, March 5 through Friday, March 6. Doors open at 8 A.M. For more information, visit www.hirschinternational.com or RSVP by calling (800) 892-1098.
SANITIZED AG is launching a new product Sanitized Silver, an antimicrobial finish that can be applied without a binder during both the exhaust and padding process. It carries the bluesign approval and the Oeko-Tex 100 registration (class I-IV) indicating it has undergone stringent quality tests and has met the highest requirements.
TRG Group(asi/90507) has named Nicki McCollough as its 2008 Horizon’s Award winner. The annual award goes to the Corporate Markets team member who contributes the most toward the division goals within the calendar year, and is voted on by the sales and management staff.
TSC Apparel(asi/90518) has announced its new 2009 promotion – the Wildcard Advantage. By purchasing the featured wildcard products each month, customers will earn entries to the January 2010 PPAI Las Vegas Show. One winner will be randomly selected each month.
[ ASK AN EXPERT ]
Question: I'm looking for blank golf club covers to embroider. Do you have any sources for these? I would appreciate any help you can give.
Answer: I certainly do have a source for blank golf covers you can embroider. Look at product AFHCS from Gold Bond Inc. (asi/57653); www.goldbondinc.com. They have acrylic fur oversized golf club heads in seven different colors. Also check out product G5017 from Ball Pro Promotional Group (asi/38120); (800) 225-5818; www.ballpro.com. They offer a synthetic suede and fur head cover with a knit sock. Good luck!
Style Tip: With warmer days just around the corner, golf club covers can make a perfect gift for potential clients or an employee-of-the-month. Personalize the cover with their name for added value.
Question: I have a client looking for brown tote bags. They need economical bags, as they will be giving them away as a promotion. They want a bag that has a flat bottom, so they can put a binder in it. Do you know of a source? I have not had any luck finding a wholesaler for brown tote bags.
Answer: Look at product 4477-60 from Limelight USA (asi/67557); (800) 738-0271; www.limelightusa.com. They have a low cost tote in brown that stands on its own, so a binder would be able to sit on the bottom of the bag. Also check out product 3330-60 from Limelight Ent (asi/67557); (800) 738-0271; www.limelightusa.com. They offer a white polyester tote with brown accents. Finally, look at product NW20166 from In the Bag (asi/62492); (877) 435-7214. Good luck!
Style Tip: Eco-friendly products continue to be in high-demand. Gift tote bags with your company’s logo on it to the employees who are shopaholics or to the one with a cluttered desk to create more space.
[ WEARABLES TERMS ]
Getting familiar with these terms will make any ad specialty distributors look like an apparel expert.
3D Foam: Foam that is used to add dimension to an embroidery pattern that is typically used on caps. The 3D Foam is placed on the topside of the pattern and stitched over with shortened stitches to cut the foam. The excessive foam is then pulled away from the embroidery giving a 3D appearance. 3D Foams are available in a variety of thickness.
Needle Plate: The metal plate located above the hook assembly of an embroidery machine. This plate has a hole in the center through which the needle travels to reach the hook and form a stitch.
Tension: The tautness of thread when forming stitches. Top thread tension, as well as bobbin thread tension, needs to be set. Proper thread tension is achieved when about one third of the thread showing on the underside of the fabric on a column stitch is bobbin thread.