The Eagle Has Landed
Las Vegas-based distributor Eagle Promotions sought to expand and grow exponentially, a goal that succeeded as “mission accomplished.”
Tucked away in a quiet industrial area of Las Vegas, Nevada, stands the sprawling complex that houses distributor Eagle Promotions (PPAI 279851). The 75,000-square-foot structure features sparkling windows, perfectly manicured landscaping and a giant stenciled logo depicting an eagle in flight.
In this serene setting, one wouldn’t guess the pristine building is just minutes away from the flashy and frenetic energy of the Las Vegas strip. But there’s just as much excitement and buzz going on inside Eagle Promotions.
Founded in 2001 by former competitors Sean Ono and Mario Stadtlander, multimillion-dollar distributor Eagle Promotions is a certified minority-owned company specializing in promotional products and branded apparel. The company is also reportedly the largest screen printer in Nevada and one of the largest screen printers in the nation.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve grown from 85 employees to more than 200 employees today,” says Stadtlander, co-owner and president. “We also now have sales reps in satellite locations across the country.”
Eagle Promotions’ clients include Fortune 100 companies, theme parks, hotels, casinos, professional sports teams, airport retailers and even celebrities. Eagle Design Group, a division of Eagle Promotions, provides fashion and trend forecasting for such iconic brands as Disney, Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump, to name a few.
“We are a unique hybrid in our industry,” explains co-owner and CEO Sean Ono, who was named a PPB Rising Star in 2011. “For the first 10 years, we focused solely on promotional products. But then, in 2005, we started a second division for retail. Diversifying has really helped our growth.”
Something else that helped the company’s growth was the Great Recession of 2008. Yes, that’s correct. From day one, Ono and Stadtlander have been fiscally conservative, choosing to consistently reinvest their profits and steadfastly shore up reserves. Their prudent planning paid off.
“We made a huge leap of growth when the economy took a downturn in 2008,” Ono says. “When the recession hit, we acquired three of our competitors on the promotional side. While other companies were either downsizing or going out of business, we grew another 20 to 30 percent.”
One of the ways Merriam-Webster defines the word crossover is “an instance of breaking into another category.” That’s exactly what Ono and Stadtlander did when the two businessmen—both with solid experience in the promotional products industry—decided to expand their business into retail.
“It’s very expensive to get into the retail business,” Stadtlander says. “You can’t really dip your toe in the water with retail. You’re either all in, or all out. However, we’ve more than doubled our sales since we brought on the retail side in 2005.”
The retail division, Eagle Design Group, recruits some of the top artists and designers in the industry to collaborate with their retail trend and fashion forecasters. The teams use market intelligence in styling, fabrics and color palettes to design products for brands such as Disney, Universal, Marvel, The Beatles and more. That same vision in the company’s uniform division gives apparel, worn in corporate, food service and hospitality environments, a fashion-forward advantage.
“Our design teams forecast trends up to a year in advance,” Stadtlander says. “Right now we’re already designing for 2018 and advising our clients on what we’re forecasting for the marketplace. By the time those trends hit, our customers’ merchandise is relevant.”
“Since we design for some of the top iconic brands in the country, we have to always stay ahead of the curve,” Ono says. “Clients such as Universal Studios and Cirque du Soleil are always asking, ‘What’s new, what’s next?’”
Today, Eagle’s business is about 60 percent retail and 40 percent promotional products. However, more and more frequently, the two sides are crossing over. “There are a lot of synergies,” Ono says. “We’re able to offer our promotional clients retail quality if they need it, and vice versa.”
Stadtlander says big-name brands are becoming more relevant in the promotional products industry. “A lot of our customers are asking for those high-end brands, and that’s driven by retail,” he adds. “We are seeing so much crossover within the retail and promotional divisions that it’s making us a stronger company.”
Show And Tell
In June 2016, Eagle Promotions expanded its facility by buying the building next door, adding 40,000 square feet of space for a total of 75,000 square feet. Eagle Promotions’ state-of-the-art facility holds nine automated screen printing presses, including one that prints 1,000 shirts an hour.
“When we built our initial facility, it was more room than we needed at the time,” Ono says. “Within 10 years, we had outgrown the space. The building next door became available and we knew we should take advantage of the opportunity. Now we’ve got an additional 40,000 square feet that we’re able to expand for more production.”
Another bonus to adding the additional space was that it included a 13,000-square-foot showroom. “We gutted the space, had it painted and polished the floors,” Stadtlander says. “We turned it into this amazing showroom that features major global brands. It looks like a retail store showroom, with high-end handbags and watches along with apparel and promotional products.”
Eagle Promotions partnered with some of the industry’s top suppliers to feature their merchandise on the showroom floor. “Brands like Hit have stepped up and taken a whole space,” Stadtlander says. “Our new showroom is one of the largest in the industry.”
The new showroom is helping Eagle Promotions promote itself as a one-stop-shop for clients, “We’ve really been pushing to cross-sell our divisions, and the showroom is definitely helping,” says Ono, adding that they want to expand the showroom by partnering with more industry suppliers.
Eagle Promotions is looking at other ways to expand as well. “We have big goals for the next three to five years,” Stadtlander says. “These include expanding our facility, hiring more sales team members and partnering with more Fortune 500 companies. We’re also exploring different verticals and other areas that will enable us to grow and expand our apparel offerings.”
Eagle Promotions is also searching for additional opportunities to acquire promotional products distributorships. The eagle has landed, but due to its innate strength it constantly seeks new frontiers, intent on soaring to new heights.
Brittany Glenn is a Dallas-based writer and a former associate editor of PPB.
In April, Eagle Promotions was recognized for its efforts in innovative manufacturing, conservation and sustainability by the Las Vegas Business Press in the State of Nevada Innovation Awards. The award marked a milestone for the company, which has recently sought to reduce any negative impact of its production on the environment.
“A few years ago, our client MGM asked us what we were doing to be more sustainable,” says Eagle Promotions co-owner and President Mario Stadtlander. “We decided to look for ways we could be more environmentally responsible.”
Over the last several years, Eagle Promotions has also invested in new equipment that’s more eco-friendly. “One of our new pieces of equipment that we use for screen printing—the M&R Eco-Rinse—saves us about 300,000 gallons of water a year because it uses recycled water,” says Eagle Promotions co-owner and CEO Sean Ono. “We also switched to LED lighting for our buildings, which reduced our power bill by a third.”
The company also implemented recycling programs for white paper and cardboard at its corporate headquarters. “We are always looking for more ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” Stadtlander says. “