Sometimes, a challenge turns out to be an opportunity in disguise. Last winter, Budd Bay Promotions & Apparel decided to look into the possibility of purchasing the building where their business was housed. The five-year lease was coming due and it seemed like a good time to get an appraisal.
Instead, they learned that not only was the price more than they could afford, the space was in high demand from the booming regional marijuana industry. “It kind of bit us in the tail – we could have just quietly signed the lease and stayed,” says owner John Grantham, “but after absorbing the unexpected cost of a move, we ended up in a better situation just a block away.” It’s a case of things always happen for a reason.
The move proved a catalyst for the company to take stock of many things, including the aging production equipment which plays a vital role in their business. “We decided to purchase new state-of-the-art machines,” says Grantham. “When you combine those with a very experienced staff, we were able to significantly elevate the quality of product we can offer to customers.”
Budd Bay provides custom branding solutions to businesses, government agencies, casinos and of course many local school and club organizations. In addition to screen printing, the quality embroidery they provide is important to customers because decorated apparel accounts for nearly 30% of all promotional product sales nationwide.
“With the new machines we could separate ourselves from other providers in that category,” Grantham notes. “We now can provide a much higher quality than we could previously provide.” Although embroidery has some inherent limitations to other forms of printing, the quality can also vary greatly depending on digitizing, machine quality and of course employee expertise.
Budd Bay Promotions and Apparel also streamlines the ordering process, eliminating many of the headaches that schools, clubs, teams and corporate groups typically encounter. “We have the ability to make it really turn-key for them,” says Grantham. “They don’t have to go out and collect all of the orders or deal with the money. It doesn’t cost them anything additional as long as we know the volume is going to be there.”
Problems with the ordering process are what kill many programs, he points out. “Usually, somebody has to collect all the money, and if something goes wrong, they feel responsible. We’ve made it really streamlined.” This process, he hopes, will take the headaches out of organizing apparel purchasing for many groups.
While Budd Bay does not market themselves as a ‘contract embroidery’ company, the quality of their work has brought significant contracts this past year including a 750 piece order from Under Armor for the US Open at Chambers Bay and from a local casino who uses Budd Bay to embroider many of their employee uniforms. “Although they purchase much of their apparel through a national buying group, the difference in the quality of their embroidery was significant enough that they were willing to take the time and pay a little extra to have us do the embroidery the way they wanted,” Grantham explained.
Every fall, schools around the area order teacher apparel or custom embroidery for specific groups or clubs. No matter the group or size, Budd Bay creates mini-stores online where employees, students and families can shop. “We open up an online store and individuals can pick out their garments,” says Grantham. “We produce the garments, then individually bag and deliver to the customer for their convenience.”
Often, corporate groups and companies will order on an as-needed basis like Stormans, which owns Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway. “They send us orders for their employees as things wear out,” he says. That approach works well for organizations with programs requiring individual orders in small quantities. “It can be difficult to find someone who will contract for an amount that small, but we do a lot of programs like that,” Grantham explains.
Budd Bay’s primary focus was actually embroidery before Grantham invested in the company 15 years ago. “Originally, the company was, and often still is, referred to as Budd Bay Embroidery,” he says. “We wanted to be known as a full-service promotions agency, thus the name change years ago to Budd Bay Promotions & Apparel. But, with all the notoriety of our embroidery recently, it’s been a more difficult name-change than I thought it would be!” He laughed. “I have to keep reminding people.”
In addition to the quality of the embroidery, working with Budd Bay saves customers time, he contends. “A company may have great quality embroidery, but if it’s on the wrong product or it takes five weeks to deliver, that doesn’t work. When it comes to the services that go along with the equipment, we feel that we do the start to finish process better than anybody.”
For more information about Budd Bay Promotions and Apparel, visit www.buddbay.com or call 360-709-0483.