The Toyota Way

Kaizen, The Toyota Way
Kaizen, The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way

Kaizen “continuous change for the better”

  • The “Old Way” is not always the Right Way.
  • Empower the Employees: Let them make decisions
  • New ideas to improve production. Quality, Speed, Employee Morale.
  • Continuous Improvements in the Factory

Plant Manager

  • Empower and Engage with the Workers.
    • Let workers think for themselves
    • Walk the production line and talk to workers throughout the day.
    • Proactive vs. Reactive. Develop training and quality controls, so problems don’t arise. “You aren’t putting out fires”




Team Leads: 2 Team Leaders to report to Plant Manager

  • Quality Control
  • Productivity
  • Scheduling for their Team

Develop a System

  • Quality Control: Team Leads inspect completed orders.
  • Productivity: Time Sheets for each Operator. Record the Job, Pieces, and Total Stitch count ran for the job.

Develop a Reward System

  • Productivity Reward for workers and Team Leads for total stitch counts of a Team in a week.
  • Defect Reward for ZERO Defects in a week for the team.

Types of Rewards

  • Cash
  • Time Off
  • Recognition

Carolin A. Bray Employee Profile

Carolin Bray 30 ShirtsWe are sending out our 39th Company Newsletter and we are featuring past employees that help build Northwest Custom Apparel.

We are featuring Carolin A. Bray who started at Northwest Embroidery in 1978. Carolin is currently part time and helps out when needed. Here is some info about Carolin Bray.


Camping, Sewing, Jewelry Bending and Photography.


Carolin is the oldest in her family

Where are you from?

Born in Oklahoma and moved to Denver when I was 6 months old. Then to Oregon and to Washington State. Lived in Washington since 1955.

Interesting Things about Carolin

I am the oldest of 10 children. I went to Gault Jr. High and graduated from Lincoln High in 1960. Married my husband, Jim Bray, when I was 21. We’ve been married for 35 years. Jim passed away about 11 years ago. I have no children because I helped my mom raise 9 other kids. We have a 5th wheel trailer  and enjoy camping on the weekends and vacations. I really like craft classes.

Funniest Moment at NW Custom Apparel

Was when an employee called in sick because her alarm clock was on fire.

What did you do at NW Custom Apparel

I started out in the emblem/trim dept. and then to plant supervisor. After that David took my job away as a manager and moved me out of supervision. I then did the shipping and receiving and then back to plant manager after David quit. Mongkon then took over as plant manager. I moved to purchasing.

Under Armour Distributor Agreement

Under Armour Promotional Products Distributor Agreement

As a select distributor (re-seller) desiring to offer Under Armour in this channel, you must agree to insure the integrity of the brand will be maintained in this channel, and adhere to standards of consistency in your sales and marketing efforts.
As a qualified distributor (re-seller) of Under Armour, products, you agree to adopt and faithfully adhere to the following re-selling policies as it pertains to all of the brands’ products.

  • Under Armour is offered to distributors that support ongoing brand development with investments in marketing, promotions and sales efforts consistent with insuring the brand’s integrity. All photography and marketing of Under Armour must be pre-approved by Northwest Custom Apparel.
  • Under Armour provides products of advanced quality and performance. For Under Armour to maintain these special product attributes, it is essential that Under Armour’s products and brand be presented to the market in a manner consistent with the premier image they justifiably hold. Except as Under Armour may otherwise specify, advertising and sale of Under Armour products at less than manufacturer’s suggested retail price would be inconsistent with that image, Not withstanding the foregoing, Distributor shall ultimately determine the prices at which Distributor ultimately sells Under Armour products.
  • Distributor may not associate Under Armour products with any qualification that may suggest the products are not those of a premium brand, or that the specific products advertised or offered for sale have a diminished value when compared to the standard Under Armour value. Therefore, without prejudice to the right to establish its resale prices, Distributor may not use terms such as “cheap,” “excess,” or “liquidation” in connection with the Under Armour products on any website, in any advertisement, sponsored link, or any other on-line marketing used, paid for or associated with Internet Dealer.
  • Under Armour will not be sold into the following channels or companies: retail stores, discount retail stores, warehouse clubs, off-price retailers, Internet retailers including Amazon and eBay, jobbers, or any entities intending to re-sell the products into any of these channels.
  • Under Armour will not be sold to any other promotional products distributors, ASI companies or other unauthorized entities re-selling or intending to re-sell the products which are not on-going corporate customers of our authorized distributors.
  • Distributor will not re-sell, directly or indirectly, Under Armour products to companies involved in the alcohol, tobacco, or pornography industries without prior written approval from Northwest Custom Apparel.
  • Distributor must provide the identity of the corporate customer, the purpose of how the UA brand will be used, and the logo application that will be applied to all products.
  • All Under Armour products must be decorated with the corporate client’s logo prior to delivery to the corporate end-user. All orders must be decorated with the customer’s logo by an Northwest Custom Apparel approved embellisher, or by Northwest Custom Apparel directly, prior to shipping. Separate decorating charges apply. All embellishing of Under Armour products will be done in a first-class, professional manner. Decorations relating to colleges, universities, collegiate sports teams, golf courses, golf clubs, or golf country clubs are expressly prohibited.
  • No modification to the Under Armour name, logos or trademarks is permitted by any circumstances.


Embroidered Cap and T-Shirt Combo $9.99

Northwest Custom Apparel

It is summer time and it’s time to order your embroidered t-shirts and baseball caps early. Northwest Custom Apparel is offering a t-shirt and cap combo for just $9.99. You get a black cap (black only) and your choice of color on the t-shirt. The cap and the t-shirt include an 8,000 embroidery logo. The minimum order is 72 per t-shirt and 72 per t-shirt. This is a limited time offer. There is approximately 1,200 baseball caps in stock.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Erik got this idea from the merchandising manager at Buffalo Wild Wings. They package their t-shirts and caps together and all it the “Wing Combo”. It increases revenue and volume of logo merchandise inside the Restaurants.

Olympia Beer does Cap Combos

Olympia Beer took the suggestion from Erik Mickelson and now their gift stores are having the cap/shirt combo. The Oly cap is a mesh cap with a patch on front. The shirt is a distressed print of the Olympia Brewery.

How to Fire a Sales Rep

When a Sales Rep Isn’t Delivering the Orders.

How do we fire a sales rep that has been here for years? Businesses change, and sometimes that means firing sales reps. It can even mean firing someone who’s been at the company for decades.

Customer Complaints

Most sales reps have issues with customer complaints and that is when the sales manager needs to see what is going on.  Usually the sales rep will lie and say there is no problem to cover his/her butt. As a sales manager you need to call the customer and get the entire story. The old saying, “There’s always two sides of the story”. If you get several complaints from different customers it is time to think about firing the sales rep.

Low Sales

Sales reps that are getting a salary and have no incentive to sell usually sit back and wait for the orders to come in. They aren’t out there hustling and shaking the bushes and trees. They become order takers, instead of order makers. If you don’t see any yearly growth in the reps sales, you need to warn him/her or let them go. You need to be tough as a sales manager and don’t let the sales reps take advantage of you.

Drugs or Alcohol

Be aware that many sales reps are not highly educated and enjoy partaking in drinking and sometimes drugs. You need to be aware of this all the time. Reps that arrive late or have money issues point to a bigger problem outside the office. Any drug use, you must FIRE immediately. I would give a warning on the alcohol abuse, but ZERO tolerance on Drugs.

Go Internet and Fire All the Reps

We have never heard of a computer snorting cocaine and passing out at the office. A computer works 24-7 and doesn’t back talk you. Fire disrespectful sales reps and invest into a website with intense SEO. You will be happy in the near future.

Watch Donald Trump

A good show to watch is Donald Trump’s, The Apprentice. Donald does not take any crap from anybody. Live the Donald way and you will be rolling in the profits!

Social Media, not salesmen

Hiring salesmen in hopes to increase the value of your business is dead wrong. Salesmen are too expensive and they can leave and take accounts at anytime. You are not adding value to your company’s brand by hiring a a bunch of commissioned salesmen. Salesmen can be loose cannons that don’t follow the rules and end up going rouge and bringing your company to its knees.

The best way to run your business is by increasing your presence in social media and the web. The trick is to build value in your social media contacts. Give your social followers some type of value on why to folllow your company.  You have to give first before asking for the sale. It is a like boxing. You have to jab jab jab and then the right hook. The right hook is asking for the sale.  Many companies go directly for the knock out punch which is disaster on social media.  You make yourself look like a used car salesman with no code of ethics.

Social media has to be ongoing and must be done daily. Some ideas for social media are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Blogs.  These social media platforms talk to each other and the Google algorithm knows that they are linked back to your main company website.  Generally, it takes around 3-4 months to get things moving on social media to see results of more visitors to your website.

The days of having salesmen driving around and dropping off catalogs and showing samples are over. It is too expensive to hire an outside salesforce and put them on the road. Most salesmen are not company people and are only in it for themselves. They will lie to the customer and cheat the apparel company they work for.  Do not build your company around outside salespeople because down the line they will put you out of business.



Rich Jacobs Sets us Straight on San Mar’s PSST Program

San Mar PSST Program

If you are in the apparel graphic industry you know what the PSST program is (Pack it separately and shipped together). This is San Mar’s way of shipping cheaper and keeping orders organized for the printer and embroider.

Rich Jacobs, West Coast Rep

I spoke with Rich Jacobs who was recently promoted to the West Coast Rep of the San Mar PSST Program by Mark Bailey.  Rich stopped by Northwest Custom Apparel  on May 6th 2016 to discuss all the cool new things coming out with the PSST program. Since the inception of the PSST program, the sales have increased to over 300 Million Dollars per year. That is the amount of product that is shipped from San Mar to decorators around the country.  Mark Bailey was the person that convinced Marty Lott and Jeremy Lott of San Mar to take on this program.

What’s New with PSST

San Mar recently updated their computer systems for the Seattle and Reno Warehouses. You will be seeing a new packing slip on all the boxes, that will have more product detail that will help your receiving clerk process boxes quicker.

Warehouse pick systems are upgraded in the Sanmar warehouses. The pickers will be wearing headsets that tell them what aisle and box to pull the shirts from. To reduce mis-picks the warehouse separates styles and colors, so they are not next to each other. The picker has a less chance of pulling the wrong size of that color. This warehouse system is the same as Amazon uses.

Sanmar has new reps to help coordinate the shipments. Northwest Custom Apparel is now working with Lola who is an expert in shipping logistics.

Instant Messaging Your Reps

Erik suggested to Rich that they should have a instant messaging system, so customers can IM their reps. This will allow customers to ask quick questions faster without having to call or send a lengthy email. Rich will be passing this suggestion up to Marty and Jeremy Lott.

Thank You!

Once again, we would like to say thank you to Rich Jacobs and Marty Lott. Rich is currently living down in Scottsdale, Arizona on the 9th hole of a PGA golf course.



Swag is a waste of marketing dollars

Promotional Products can waste Marketing Dollars

I was at a trade show earlier in the year and watched all the cheap swag that vendors were handing out. Stress balls, note pads, stickers etc. I also looked at the garbage outside the trade show where all the swag ended up. It was a total waste of marketing dollars?

Why it is a waste?

The SWAG that ended up in the dumpster was cheap “crap” that people will not keep and use. Once the swag hits the garbage your marketing impressions is literally in the garbage. Let’s take for example you bought 1,000 stupid stress balls for a buck a piece. You hand them all out at the trade show and 50% get tossed and the remainder get passed onto a friend or they sit in the back seat of a car.  Wouldn’t it make sense to find a promo product that the person will actually use and you will get your marketing dollars working?

Give out stuff people want

If you have $1,000 to burn for marketing exposure, you should give out less items and make it a higher quality item. What if you got some high quality t-shirts that have a perceived value of $20.00 and only gave out 50 of them to your best customers. The customers would wear these 5 times and each time 50 people saw the shirt. That is a lot of marketing impressions.

Quality Writing Instruments

Stop giving out the cheap ass Bic Sticks that people have a million of. Like the t-shirt find a high quality pen and give that out. People will keep a nice pen and actually use it.  Quality pens can range from $3.00 to $5.00 each with your company logo imprinted on the barrel of the pen. This is a great idea to stretch your marketing dollars.

Do Social Media instead

Maybe scratch giving out anything and take that money to promote your company through social media. You can buy Facebook ads and target customers you want to see your product. The cost per impression is very low (like one cent per view). So maybe go that route and give up the expensive trade shows.

Just think before you waste your marketing dollars.