Owner: David Schlier
Year Established: 1991
Decorating Technique: Embroidery, Screen Printing, Digitizing
Type of business: Contract Garment Decorating
How a contract embroidery company finds its specialty.
Hi David, could you please tell us a little about how Rockland Embroidery got started?
I have been in the embroidery industry since 1970. Started with an embroidery company as a Schiffli embroidery machine watcher. Schiffli were 15-yard long embroidery machines, which produced mostly emblems. I worked my way up to management and in 1981 I decided to started my own company with a Gross embroidery machine in my basement and have not looked back since.
How did you grow your business into a large contract embroidery company?
I was sort of forced into it, meaning I purchased many multi-heads to embroider the Nike, Adidas, Nautica volume production. I had a personal connection with the factory owners of these companies, which helped me land these large contract orders. When the shift of manufacturing off shore came to be, (I might add suddenly) I needed a new avenue of business. I then began focusing on the promotional products industry. I would attend tradeshows and just started plugging away making contacts with people in the industry.
With a lot of businesses going overseas for contract embroidery, how do you stay competitive in this global marketplace?
Most of the high volume decorating has gone off shore. Your average company will not want off shore embroidery for 72 pieces. We have many smaller customers with smaller quantities, which helps to insulate us from sudden shifts in business. Today, we mostly serve small to medium size promotional product companies.
It seems that your niche is embroidery to the ad specialty industry. How do you market your services to the promotional distributors and advertising agencies?
E-mail blasts and numerous trade show marketing.
Do you handle small contract embroidery for smaller mom & pop embroidery shops? If so, what is the process and how can your service help them?
I always try to work with smaller embroiderers depending on the volume. Sometimes a smaller embroiderer will run into an order that is too large for them to handle within the requested time frame. We offer to turn it around for them in the required time with a win-win outcome.
What has been your biggest challenge in the embroidery business? How did you overcome it?
Currently the challenge is maintaining profit margins. Since we do not sell a product or perform a service it becomes difficult to maintain the profit margins we were accustom to in the past. We are looking into ways of streamlining customer service support to eliminate unnecessary steps to getting the jobs out the door. Our high volume of well over a million pieces embroidered each year compensates for the low profit margins.
How about your biggest success? How did that happen?
I own a patent and helped developed another patent that was an embroidery process that was sold to Kenner Toy, Hallmark Cards and Disney. My patent is an embroidered piece mounted on the front of a greeting type card with a cut out that allows the embroidery to show through when the card is closed. The embroidery can be removed and heat-sealed to a garment with a household iron. Once the embroidery is removed from the card a print of the embroidery design remains as to not change the integrity of the greeting card. The card itself has information about the topic. Lastly, on the back of the card are decals that can removed and heat applied to garments. An example would be an information card for Penn State University. The embroidery of the Penn State Nittany Lion logo would be mounted on the card and inside would depict interesting points of information about the college and the back would have decals that would follow the same theme as the embroidery on the front.
I know you have several Tajimas, Barudans and now SWFs. What made you decide on SWF multi-head embroidery machines?
They were priced thousands below the competition for a quality built machine. We have found the service for the SWF machines to be very good. The quality attests to the first time we have needed service for the 3 SWF machines we have purchased. We have or had every major brand commercial embroidery machine in our factory, and SWF represents excellent quality and value.
What advice would you give someone interested in starting an embroidery business?
Make sure you plan your business well and start out small. Know how you are going to market your product and services. In today’s market you need to know your competition, know how to differentiate your company. Times are different from when I started out in this industry. Breaking into large contract embroidery takes time and I benefited by being in the garment industry for 40 years.
Thank you David for sharing your expertise. Would it be OK for our customers or prospects to reach you directly? What is the best way?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to reach me.