Welcome to the initial blog post from our new Ask Fred Blog. To kick things off I thought I’d give you a quick history on how we got here and where we hope to go next.
In 1979, working out of my college dorm room in New York City, I unwittingly started on a journey that continues to this day. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would be my life.
When I look back, it is to a time without custom logo shirts and apparel. “Wouldn’t it be great,” I thought back then, “if you could get the same quality polo as that ever-popular French Lacoste ‘alligator’ shirt, with any logo or design you wanted?”
On a whim, I placed an ad in the back of The New Yorker Magazine. When the phone started to ring (to the great aggravation of my roommate) I placed a few more ads in places like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, a few of the airline magazines and some of the Ivy League Alumni Magazines.
“Better than Lacoste or Ralph Lauren!” the ads proclaimed. “Get the same great quality shirt with YOUR logo instead of theirs.”
I was off and running!
A Tale of Two States
I liked school but couldn’t wait to get on with life. Having struck out in my halfhearted job search (it seemed like the responsible thing to do) my lack of employment gave me the excuse to give this shirt thing a try for a while and see how far I could get with it.
I bootstrapped in New York for about 15 years, moving from Manhattan, to Queens, to Brooklyn, always managing to be just resourceful enough to keep the lights on. In January 1995 I got into a fight with my Landlord in Brooklyn (no heat), lost and was evicted. February of that same year I moved South to Wilmington North Carolina looking for a fresh start in a new environment.
It was a good move for us. The cost of living was low and the weather was great. We were closer to our major suppliers, and the people were hard working, and grateful for the career opportunities.
Today we are still in the same location we originally moved to but have expanded into over 100,000 square feet of converted factory space where we process hundreds of orders, and ship several thousand custom logo, embroidered and printed shirts, hats, bags, etc. a day.
The Recession and a New Direction
Our history has been one of slow and steady growth, dotted by our fair share of missteps, lucky breaks and a few good decisions.
Marketing directly to our customers (no middle-men!) was a good decision. Moving to North Carolina was a good decision. Getting on the Internet early was a good decision. And building a business based on quality products and customer service was a good decision.
My biggest revelation, however, came in 2014 as we were struggling to restart growth after the recession, and people stopped reading and looking at newspapers, magazines and catalogs.
That was when I realized what I really wanted to do was build a truly great company. As I worked to understand how to do that, I came to understand that in a truly great company, there are no weak links. Working with my team we identified the 4 essential qualities of all great employees, the Four P’s, and started the hard work of building a company around those ideas.
The 4 P’s and TGP
We determined that to be a great employee a person has to be Productive (good at their job), Positive (actively lift up people around them with their positive energy), Principled (treat EVERYONE the way they want to be treated) and Proactive (always striving for improvement and growth).
Perfect is not one of the 4 P’s. People have strong P’s and weaker ones. Some come as naturally as breathing. Others can be a real struggle. If you want to be great employee, however, you need all four and there can be no exceptions to that for the team.
Four years into what we call TGP – The Greatness Project – we see improvement and growth all around us. We are working hard, and much of what we must do is difficult, but our energy is great, and we are united in pursuit of greatness.
For those of you who have been with us for a while we appreciate the support and opportunity. I think we have always been good. I hope you see us getting better. To those of you who are new, welcome aboard. Let’s grow towards greatness together.
To anyone considering giving us a try, Trust The Queen. You won’t be disappointed.
Questions, comments, thoughts? firstname.lastname@example.org