The 2020 Election Year Has Been Good For Supplier Unionwear

It’s all in a day’s work for Newark, New Jersey, supplier Unionwear (PPAI 111926, S1), which manufactures political apparel for 2020 campaigns on both sides of the aisle.

For more than 30 years, the company has been manufacturing campaign merchandise for political candidates of both parties, and in this election cycle, has made campaign hats for Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren, among other candidates, according to a story in Business Insider Today. The company, which employs 175 workers at its 70,000-square-foot factory, can turn out 2,000-3,000 caps in a day. Along with capacity, speed and accuracy, the American-made factor is a critical component for most campaign merchandise.

“Unionwear manufactures hats, bags and binders, but what we actually sell is the ability for end users to demonstrate their commitment to the American economy and worker by co-branding with the world’s most powerful label: Made in the USA,” says company President Mitch Cahn in an interview with PPB Newslink. “Political campaigns are a very visible segment of the ‘Made in the USA’ market that also includes domestic manufacturers like the Big Three automakers, big food companies, the government, nonprofits and unions.”

The most satisfying part of the work, Cahn says, is seeing his products in action. “It’s great seeing products you just produced on national TV almost daily,” he says. “It’s also refreshing to know that the client really means it when they say their product needs to be union-made in the USA—a request that is even coming from Republicans now. Finally, it’s the one period of time every four years when price takes a backseat to delivery and country of origin.”

The biggest challenge with producing political apparel is not only remaining nonpartisan, which is essential, but helping distributors estimate quantities. “Because candidates can drop out with little warning, clients often buy thousand-unit orders every few days rather than ordering monthly,” he says. “Also, we often have to help distributors deal with the unrealistic expectations of inexperienced end users—often volunteers right out of college—who have never ordered merchandise before.”

Fortunately, even though Cahn orders raw materials from China, he is not dealing with shortages because of the current supply chain disruptions. In this case, Cahn’s experience paid off. “After doing this for 20 years, we’ve learned to horde raw materials in advance of Chinese New Year,” he says. “But after the tariff increases and some other factors, domestic piece goods and imports are pretty close in price—the difference is availability. But, for the past 12 years, nearly all our presidential hats have been red and navy, allowing us to really plan ahead and meet domestic mill minimums.”

filed under March 2020 | Unionwear
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