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No Situation Too Hopeless: How Extraordinary Persistence Saved A Promotion

It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving last year, and Bill Haramija was looking forward to some down time. Away from the office, the owner of Vail, AZ-based Proforma Printing & Promotional Products (asi/300094) is an avid ice hockey fan, and he took his two sons to see a local minor league game.

Bill Haramija (L), owner of Proforma Printing & Promotional Products (asi/300094), with Craig Cunningham of the Tucson Roadrunners ice hockey team.

Then, disaster struck. Just before face-off, Craig Cunningham, the 26-year-old Canadian team captain for the Tucson Roadrunners, collapsed on the ice. Fortunately, the local fire department was on hand for the national anthem and immediately started giving him CPR.

“He left on a stretcher, still receiving chest compressions, and they announced that the rest of the weekend’s games were postponed,” says Haramija. “Everyone was very upset as they left. The silence was so loud.”

After the game, the news broke that Cunningham had suffered from ventricular fibrillation; even though his heart stopped for two days, the medical team had been successful in reviving him. (The doctors later had to amputate Cunningham’s leg due to lack of circulation.)

While Cunningham recovered in the hospital, the team president wanted them to continue playing the next weekend. Haramija decided to donate 5,000 silicone bracelets in honor of Cunningham for the team’s first game without him.

“They said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and they gave me the art on the Tuesday before the holiday,” says Haramija. “I sent the order to PMGOA (asi/79982) because they’re fast, and I told them I needed 5,000 logoed bands by that Friday. They said they’d get it done, and that they’d ship Wednesday for a Friday delivery.”

The day the bracelets were scheduled to ship, Haramija reached out to PMGOA for tracking information – and got no answer. Trying not to panic, he focused on enjoying Thanksgiving. “At that point, there was really nothing I could do,” he says. “I just hoped it happened, and I thought, ‘I’ll deal with it tomorrow.’”

But reality set in on Friday when he still hadn’t heard from the supplier on his time-sensitive delivery. While Haramija was figuring out the next step to take, the Roadrunners team president called asking about the status on the merch.

“I said to him, ‘I’m pretty confident, but to be honest, I’m not 100% sure they’re going to get here.’ He’s really cool. He says, ‘I’m sure they’ll be here.’”

Haramija continued emailing and calling PMGOA, even going so far as to send Facebook friend requests to employees so he could message them. No luck. “The team had already promoted these bracelets,” he says. “It’s their first game back, and they’re expecting a huge crowd.”

That was when Haramija did a deep Google search and found a Houston-based LLC listing for PMGOA with phone numbers he hadn’t yet tried. He dialed the main number listed, and finally someone answered. “I explained who I was and the situation,” he says. “I was desperate! I needed that tracking information.”

The man who answered was the India-based owner, he told Haramija, but his brother, the co-owner, was in Dallas. The owner jumped into action and started a group text with the three of them, telling his brother in Texas that Haramija needed his help.

They tracked the package, and found out the bracelets had missed their flight out of China. “We’re not sure why,” says Haramija. “It might have been that the plane was just too full. But on the rescheduled flight, they wouldn’t get to the U.S. until Saturday, and they wouldn’t make the game. Now I’m panicking, but I’m trying to stay calm. And then he says, ‘Hold on, give me a few minutes.’”

When the owner called Haramija back, he had a solution: He was bringing in an employee to the supplier’s Houston production facility late on Black Friday to run as many bracelets as possible overnight. Then the owner would fly from Dallas to Houston, personally pick up the finished product and deliver it to FedEx so they would arrive early on Saturday, in time for the game.

“They ran 3,500 bracelets from Friday into Saturday, he flew on a same-day flight from Dallas to Houston, got it to FedEx, and it arrived at the Tucson hub early Saturday,” says Haramija. “I drove to Tucson, picked them up and delivered them to the arena, right under the wire.”

In his 13 years of experience in the promotional products industry, Haramija is still blown away by how PMGOA helped him solve the problem. “They’re a relatively new company, and they just went above and beyond,” he says. “It was a very emotional game for everyone that day, and they were very grateful for the bracelets.”

The moral of the story? Don’t ever give up, even when the situation seems hopeless. “I just had to be persistent,” says Haramija. “And PMGOA didn’t charge me. It goes to show that we have suppliers that are concerned with more than just the dollar amount on an order.”