Deco Source History

  • Northwest Embroidery was the first commercial embroidery company in the Pacific Northwest. We opened our doors in Oct 1977. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary.
  • During those days we supported some major companies such as Nike, Eddie Bauer, Britannia jeans, REI, and Columbia to name a few. We had the market locked because we were the only company of size who could do embroidery.
  • Life was good until our government lowered the duty on imported decorated garments. The duty used to be around 28% on apparel with any decoration. Northwest at the time was able to do the embroidery for less than the 28% duty. But, our government lowered the duty with some nudging from some of the major apparel players at that time.
    With the duties lowered the manufacturing slowly started to shift to the far west. Hong Kong and Taiwan were the first big players to have factories and solicit this manufacturing business. It was a slam dunk the selling price would remain strong in the US and the cost of goods manufactured would go down. It takes a fool not to realize what was happening.
  • Seattle at one time was the leading manufacturing center for outerwear in the United States. Rainier Valley was a cluster of contract sewers who fed the retail industry. Northwest Embroidery was able to take advantage of this because of the fact that embroidered logos enhanced the perceived value of the finished product.company-unjiforms-1999
    The market during this period (1977-1985) was strong for everyone. But the majors wanted more bang for their buck. They started to turn to the Far East or far west if you are in Seattle to out source their manufacturing.
    Cascade Manufacturing just down the street from us was a prime contractor for Columbia and LL Bean. They had over 600 sewers in Puyallup and Seattle. This was no small operation. Today the property hosts a large apartment complex.
  • Northwest Embroidery saw the handwriting on the wall and turned outward to becoming a retailer selling logo merchandise direct to the end user. This proved to be even better than trying to hustle orders from the majors. Companies like San Mar, JM Products, Winkler Northwest were born. These companies were actually distributors who imported directly and marketed to the decorated apparel industry
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    The decorated apparel industry was starting to take off in 1980. Logo apparel was just getting popular. A cottage industry was growing selling decorated apparel.
  • The industry has changed astronomically since 1977. In 1985 we bought our first fax machine and for $3.57 a page we could throw away our telex machine and communicate with the far west without having to send DHL packets. Our orders really flowed smoothly.
  • After the fax machine came the internet and the whole world opened up.
    Some of the new innovations which are coming to market are Digital to Garment printers which print directly from a computer to a garment.

 

  • There is no setup involved and the quantities can be as little as one. This is a labor killer which addresses the must have now generation.
    This little brief can give you an overview of who Deco Source is and how we started out as a small embroidery company who is the leader in the decorated apparel in the Pacific Northwest.

Author: Jim Mickelson

Jim Mickelson is the pioneer in the custom apparel industry since 1977. Jim is the CEO of NW Custom Apparel and Decosource and writes for industry blogs and trade journals throughout the world. Jim's work has been published in Impressions and Prntwear magazines. Jim is available for onsite consulting services when his schedule permits.