‘BEST’ Of The Best
Michael Hicks, founder and president of BEST Promotions USA, describes his business as “emergency responders.” When he and his team receive rush orders, they do their best to accommodate their clients. “We’re built on trust, speed and service,” says Hicks.
BEST, which has locations in the Dallas and Houston areas following its recent acquisition of Cooler Graphics, has been manufacturing beverage insulators and customizing drinkware since its inception in 2007. Its products include stadium cups, water bottles, tumblers and travel cups, ceramic mugs and pint, shot and wine glasses, as well as beverage accessories like key rings, coolers, bottle openers, lanyards and wristbands. But BEST is widely recognized for its beverage insulators, or coolies, which the company manufactures in-house. Not only are coolies BEST’s top seller, but they’ve made an imprint as part of BEST’s most prized client story, and where the company got its start.
“I remember getting a call about two or three years ago at 11:12 am,” says Hicks. “I can still remember the time.” Hicks explains a request from a valued customer, who inquired about 2,500 coolies to be delivered in Houston (a four hour drive from Dallas) by four o’clock that same day. “Even I said, ‘There’s no way,’ and we hung up,” he says. “But then I called her right back and said, ‘Wait just a minute. Send that P.O.!’ and we got the order out in 32 minutes and delivered to Houston right at 4 pm.”
From left, back row: Lee Simerly, Michael Hicks, Braden Hicks and Grant VanWinkle. From left, front:
Jasmine Espinozaand Shannon Ellis. This is the original team that joined BEST when the company was
founded in 2007. Eleven years later, and they all remain with the company.
Hicks, who had 18 years of industry experience working for two other suppliers before starting BEST, also began his business offering coolies. “I took orders and didn’t even have a building yet,” he says, with a smile. One of his first orders, he recalls, was for 50,000 four-color process coolies, which he completed while launching his business. (BEST’s name was inspired by Hicks’ family: his son, Braden, his daughters Emily and Sara, and his wife, Teresa.)
But BEST’s success is an effort that Hicks attributes mostly to his team of nearly 150, which he cross-trains to address customer needs quickly and efficiently. “Early on, we did so much cross-training, because if we were backed up in any other area, anyone could help the customer,” he says. “Our goal, all along, was just that whomever answers the phone should be able to take care of your issues right then and there, without transferring the call. We are in the ‘right now’ business.”
Customer service drives BEST’s philosophy and company structure, with the supplier’s org chart relatively flat, favoring cross-training to leave as few barriers as possible between clients and the business. This is the reason that BEST, he says, is not organized by departments. “What’s special about our company is that we have people that are willing,” he says. “We don’t have departments. We have people that will do anything and everything to get the job done and that is deeply embedded in our culture. We have a lot of teamwork, and it’s the team that makes us successful.” It comes as no surprise that BEST—whose previous tagline was “Championship Service”—now carries the tagline, “We say ‘Yes.’”
To help with BEST’s continued growth, the company became a subsidiary of Braintree, Massachusetts-based Hub Promotional Group in November 2017, which also owns Beacon, Hub Pen, Canyon Leather, Debco Creations, BCG and Origaudio. “We weren’t for sale, but we were growing so fast that I thought we needed a partner to help us grow,” Hicks says. “And it’s been great working with the world-class team at Hub.” In the works for 2019, Hicks plans to offer a full line of new stainless drinkware that involves the same customer-friendly services as his coolies.
BEST Coolies Step-By-Step
1. First, neoprene—the fabric used to make the coolies—arrives at the plant in large rolls. Customers can choose from 28 colors, like coral and placid blue to Texas orange and camo.
2. The neoprene is cut according to the selected design and quantity, and the coolies-to-be undergo the printing process. BEST offers screen-printing (one color) and four-color printing. It is during this phase that customers can add embellishments, including sparkly ribbon and rhinestones.
3. The coolies are sewn, depending on the size and style of the coolie order, and then shipped. BEST offers coolies for standard eight-, 12-, 16- and 24-ounce cans, glass beer or soda bottles, party cups, growlers, wine glasses and wine bottles, to name a few. They also offer boot coolies, and coolies with capes, straps or zippers.
About BEST Promotions USA
Founding date: June 2007
Principal: Michael Hicks, Founder and President
Numbers of orders filled per month: 5,000
Most popular item: Beverage Insulators
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.