We recently asked Wearables readers to share their short-term investment plans with us, whether it involves expanding to a new location, buying new equipment or something else. Check out some of their responses below, and stay tuned for the April/May issue of the magazine for even more feedback.
Greg Walden, Atomic Screen Print and Embroidery: We plan on adding a third automatic screen-printing press, a six-head embroidery machine and an artist. After two consecutive years of 15% sales increases, the additional production equipment is necessary to grow another 15% this year and next. We currently have two autos, two hand presses, 17 embroidery heads and 15 full-time employees.
Gregg Emmer, Kaeser & Blair Inc.(asi/238600): The extremely strong financial foundation of K&B allows us to make business investment a practice, not an event. From the latest updates to our websites and computer systems, expanded advertising and ongoing training to converting to LED lighting throughout our entire headquarters, repaving the parking lot and new roofing and carpeting, our goal is to keep ahead of anything that could interfere with progress or diminish the productivity of our staff. Done well, we avoid making “big” investments that could disrupt our lucrative bonus program for our dealers or get in the way of acquisitions.
Jon Empey, The Design Monkey: We’re moving into a new building in the next few weeks. That’s been our biggest investment to date, going from approximately 300 square feet to over 1,500 square feet. With that extra space, we’re planning a major upgrade to our printing press in the next year or so. The larger space will also offer us the opportunity look into some different revenue streams.
Shirley Clark, Madeira USA: Having a website that offers customers e-commerce as well as education is like having a 24/7 sales rep. You can tell, through analytics, what’s working and what isn’t. So as a tool and a functioning representative of the company, a website needs to be up to the minute and offer customers what they need. This is why, in 2018, we’re putting the expertise, and budget, into a review and redesign of our websites. Currently, we offer customers and prospects three sites: MadeiraUSA.com; madeiraMart.com; and ezeebacking.com. We will be reevaluating each site and its functionality in an effort to streamline the amount of time it takes to find a product, understand the product, and order it. With a large percentage of sales coming in to us over the site, it’s imperative that this costly improvement be handled slowly, with great care and thought, in order to produce a site that is intuitive and a pleasure to visit. We’re not rushing into this, but have committed resources to accomplish this major business enhancement this year.
Allie Cleman, Harbour Town Promotions (asi/219865): Our next big investment will definitely be software. We’ve been in business for less than a year, so we’ve been doing a lot of record keeping manually, using Microsoft Excel. Now that we’ve reached our break-even point as a company and are making a profit, the logical next step is to invest in industry-specific software to do these calculations for us. This will save us valuable time, which will translate into more sales. The software will decrease our margin for error, since it will be computer-based calculations and will also allow us to generate more specific reports for review faster and more accurately. All in all, we’re looking forward to this next big investment.
Ben Roberts, Outdoor Cap Co. (asi/75420): The next investment and most of our upcoming investments for the foreseeable future are around technology and processes that enable better customer experience. People simply expect more visibility to the order process and status, clear communication when and how they want it, and better tools to generate new business. These needs and investments are top of mind and top of wallet for Outdoor Cap in 2018.
Anita Lowe, Lowe-Go Embroidery & Designs: I just went through a very hard year recovering from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. It flooded my home-based business and almost sunk me. I have two Tajimas: a six-head and a single-head. Thank goodness the flood did not reach the power components of either. I did lose two computers, but managed not to lose my customer base or 13 years of designs.
To help me rebuild and grow, my daughter is coming on full time. She has 14 years of embroidery experience at the Navy base here in Virginia. She also has a degree in graphic design, so this is like hiring someone to set up an art department, and marketing. This is going to be a huge investment. I came close to going out of business, but things are turning around.
Greg Effinger, Creative Bearings: Our next business BIG purchase will likely be a new Riley Hopkins press. Our old press is 20-plus years old. We’ve already got a DTG printer, and we’re considering a larger clamshell heat press before summer. While we’re at it, it sure would be nice to get a vinyl cutter for numbers and one-offs.