1. How did your company get its start?
One day, a guy I knew asked me to help him sell t-shirts. I gave him $3,000. A year later, when the business didn’t work out, I took it over with a friend of mine. We operated it together for 18 years, and for the past 5 years I’ve run it alone.
We got into promotional products in 2002, and today they account for about 55 percent of our business. Originally, we were called Mad Hatter Screen Printing and Embroidery, but adopted Mad Hatter Promotions to reflect the change. This year we’re expanding with the purchase of an enclosed trailer. We’ve found a lot of success in the tournament market—baseball, softball and the like—and a trailer will save us the hassle of setting up a tent and booths everywhere we go. It also helps establish a new, retail element of our business.
2. What’s your favorite thing about being in the promotional products industry?
In the promotional products business, every day is like Christmas. You work with a customer to develop a product, and you don’t see it until it arrives at the shop. Open the package, and there’s something you’ve created. We’re always creating something new. We don’t have a niche clientele, so they come from all over the community. I enjoy helping people become successful, and it’s made me successful.
3. When did you know that you wanted to work in this industry?
It wasn’t that we decided we wanted to move into the promotional products business. It was more of a defensive move. Our customers told us about promotional products businesses selling t-shirts, so we returned the favor and started selling promotional products. Since then, we’ve grown and learned the industry, and now it’s more than half of our business. It’s not only given us more to offer our existing customers, but brought new clients to us as well.
4. Why did you join PPAI?
We’ve used SAGE for a number of years. It made sense to us to take advantage of what PPAI had to offer, particularly if we’d be paying the same amount. And while we are still determining which of PPAI’s benefits work best for us, I do appreciate an organization that’s working for us.