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Wearables Talk With Howard Potter

Wearables talked with Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images (asi/702505), about why department store closures are a boon for apparel decorators and how to retain a personal touch with clients, no matter how much your company has grown. 

What’s the best business-related complement you’ve received?
HP: The ones that always stand out are the customers who thank us not only for doing our job, but for caring so much. Caring to make sure everything was done on time, and even hand-delivered if necessary. My wife and I have traveled sometimes as much as an hour on a Friday night to drop something off and help a customer out. They know they matter to us no matter how big our company gets.

What’s one thing you’d do to improve the industry?
HP: Bring the focus on quality back. For every 1,000 companies, you’re lucky if 5% can produce a quality, on-time product/service, which gives our industry a bad name. I would get most to take it seriously.

Who in the business world do you admire most or strive to emulate?
HP: Anyone who strives to do more or be better every day, like Dan Marino, Mr. Wonderful; Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank, Marcus Lemonis from The Profit. I was able to meet them at ASI shows. They prove to us that all of our hard work pays off, and you have to continue to work hard to keep what you have and build upon it. So many people enter our industry thinking they are going to make a quick buck, and that is not the case.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the decorated-apparel market right now?
HP: A lot of big department stores cannot afford to stay open due to internet shopping. This is great for us because it means more and more people will start their own local and online clothing lines and use our services. We’ve been seeing this trend increasing for the past 10 years. You have to remember the mall stores make everything look cool, but it’s not made to last, in most cases.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
HP: It’s lonely at the top. Meaning not that we are the best or better than anyone, but our company is growing every year. We push ourselves to do better work, be better at every process, offer more and help our community out as much as possible. When you do this, you automatically put yourself on an island in your field where people in your industry or area won’t like you or will bad mouth you.