Curt Anderson from B2Btail has been working with us on our SEO efforts through an IMEC grant. He came to visit for a live stream of the facilities. With him, he brought Nicole Donnelly and Jaclyn Kolodziej. Joining us on the video session was Damo Pistulka.
Curt Anderson 00:00
Hey David how’s it going?
Damon Pistulka 00:08
It’s going well today, man,
Curt Anderson 00:10
a happy Tuesday, dude.
Damon Pistulka 00:12
It’s a great day. It’s a great day. And it looks like you’re on site with another cool company. So let’s get this thing rolling.
Curt Anderson 00:20
Yeah, you can see in Seattle, we’re hanging out in Chicago, more deep dish pizza that you’re missing out on. So, hey, happy Tuesday. Welcome, everybody. So I’m handing off to Nicole. I’m actually going down on the floor. So you guys take it away. And so David, thanks for joining us, Nicole. Oh, my
Nicole Donnelly 00:35
goodness, Kirk, get down to the floor. We
Damon Pistulka 00:37
got to David. Yeah, good stuff. Damon. It’s just you and me.
Nicole Donnelly 00:41
And this crew of amazing folks at underdog apparel apparel redefined. And we just spent the last hour just walking through their facility, a demon. It’s pretty amazing what they’re doing here. Kurt’s gonna go down with one of the team members there and show this amazing new equipment. You can see it right there. It’s called the rock. And it’s direct to garment printing. And so this is like state of the art. So excited to be able to show you this. But most importantly, really excited to have this amazing team here. We’ve got John the Roy, he’s the CEO of apparel redefined and underdog apparel. We’ve got Jacqueline with IMEC. Hi, Jacqueline. Hi, John. Welcome. And then we’ve got dB right over there. And then we’ve got Nick, who’s the director of operations here. And we’re so excited to have him on the program today, just really looking forward to dive in and learn all about what’s happened with direct to garment printing and all the amazing work that John’s doing. How’re you doing today, John?
John LaRoy 01:38
Doing? Well, I just want to thank you guys for coming out. It’s been great working with Craig curtain iMac. And we’re just really excited. You’re here and happy for the opportunity to go live with you guys. Yeah, we’re
Nicole Donnelly 01:50
so excited to be here. This is amazing. So one of the first questions I got it, you know, I’m gonna up there’s Kurt down there, but I heard how you do it.
Damon Pistulka 01:59
He’s like, Oh, man.
Nicole Donnelly 02:02
This is so fun for us. We get to be in two places at the same time, man. We’re like, This is amazing. So Kurt, always the first question he always asked, and I feel like I’ve got to ask it. So Kurt, I’m going for it. John, this is the first question we always ask on every show. So we want to know, when you were a little boy growing up? Who’s your hero? Um,
John LaRoy 02:28
well, like action hero.
Nicole Donnelly 02:30
And you know, whatever. Like, who comes to mind. You know, we get all kinds of answers on the show. So you know, some people do say they have action heroes like, what did we have last week? Someone said, Oh, man, who we got a lot of people say their dad, a lot of people say, you know, musicians.
John LaRoy 02:45
And there’s definitely, definitely my dad for sure. But like an obscure cartoon, I watched and ready for hockey all the time was called Pro stars. It was like, two or three years it was Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson. They all had like unique powers. But it was like, you know, the best in all sports. It only was on for maybe two or three years. But it was like my favorite cartoon because all three of those guys were my heroes. So yeah, I mean, they’re real people, too. But it was like, you know, the action hero, the bat King or the ball came out of Bo Jackson’s bat and the puck came out of Gretzky’s stick, and I forgot what Jordan did. I mean, other than like, jump through win championships in baseball,
Nicole Donnelly 03:30
right. Very cool. Very cool. So you grew up playing both sports. Very nice. Awesome. All right, Jacqueline, who’s your hero?
Jaclyn Kolodziej 03:38
Who’s my hero? Oh, I was on the show. What? Six months ago Damon? My super. My hero was my grandmother.
Nicole Donnelly 03:44
Oh, nice. Very nice. All right. TV.
Derek Brubaker 03:50
Growing up. I don’t know I I can at least say I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy kicker. When I was five, and I don’t know why. around the yard.
Jaclyn Kolodziej 04:08
At least you didn’t say Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Yeah.
Derek Brubaker 04:13
Absolutely. Okay. I have big dreams for Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 04:15
There you go. Very nice.
Nicole Donnelly 04:18
And now you’re making drinks happen every day here.
Derek Brubaker 04:20
Nicole Donnelly 04:22
All right. Last but not least,
Nick Maldonado 04:24
I’ll tell you my father had probably been Jordan. Jordan, Michael. Michael Jordan. Yeah, yes. The goat
Nicole Donnelly 04:29
of all time, right.
Damon Pistulka 04:32
You guys, you guys are in their area where that’s just so cool to be able to be there and around there when those guys were playing man. That was just a time wasn’t it?
John LaRoy 04:42
Yeah, it was it was. Even if you weren’t in the basket. Oh, yeah. My call. Hey, hey, can you can you hear us?
Nicole Donnelly 04:52
I can. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 04:53
What what did Derek say Delos cow. I heard Dallas Cowboys. Did I hear that?
Nicole Donnelly 05:00
I did write that. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 05:01
Thank you. Chicago Bears. Come on, man.
Derek Brubaker 05:05
I am a Vikings fan to to this.
Damon Pistulka 05:08
Oh, my football good answers. Yeah, I think I’m gonna have to drop off right now
Nick Maldonado 05:19
rival rivals in football.
Damon Pistulka 05:22
I grew up in South Dakota Bears fan. So it was a tough life. Tough life. Indeed
John LaRoy 05:28
we’ll be. We’ll be two for a little one. They’re gonna be good.
Nicole Donnelly 05:34
Well, cool. Well, John, I think we’d love to just start and hear a little bit more about your background. What brought you to this industry? Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing. Maybe let’s start with you. Tell us a little bit what you’re doing here underdog and apparel redefined? And then And then we’d love to hear about your entrepreneurial story. Sure, sure.
John LaRoy 05:51
So pair redefined we, you know, for lack of a better term, we put logos on things, you know, through a different all different types of methods, right, we do traditional screen printing, we do embroidery, we do laser etching, we do a direct to garment Summa, beginning to a process called DTF. Direct to film we do. We do sewing, we do twill work. mainly focus on the athletic space. That’s kind of where we got started. Do a lot of work for Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, a lot of onfield apparel, you turn on TV on Saturdays and college football season, you’ll see our stuff on the sidelines or in game and an underdog apparel, that side of it was really kind of born right before the pandemic, but then really thrown into necessity with the pandemic, you know, what we’re wearing today, this is how people go to work, you know, polos, golf attire type stuff, you know, my dad grew up in, my dad’s are working, you know, for corporate sales in the 70s and 80s shirt and tie suit every day. And that’s kind of phased out. So one of the ways to that you see, like, you know, buzzword in the industry is culture. One of the ways big companies try and promote their culture is through branded apparel. So even when everyone’s moving out of the office, and working remotely, one of the ways they can try and keep that brand identity was sending merch, you know, hats, polos, quarters, EPS, that type of stuff. And the markets that were serving with apparel redefined, weren’t being totally served for the business, you know, like for companies, 500 employees or more. So we’re like, let’s, let’s, let’s reach out to them too, because there’s only really a couple options serving, you know, those type of companies. And our mission was, you know, not everyone starts out as a top dog, you know, and we were the underdog essentially going after the syntaxes. You know, the Land’s End that type of stuff. So we’re going to help those companies that are like maybe 50 to 100 employees become the dog, because you don’t always start out as the guy you got to you got to, you know, climb the ropes and earn your stripes. And we wanted to help companies build their brand, build their presence, we felt that there was a big need for that. So we started that in 2000, like 90 now like right before the pandemic we launched underdog apparel.
Nicole Donnelly 08:07
Love it. That’s really cool. Yeah. And how did you get involved in this business? Yes.
John LaRoy 08:13
Pretty crazy. I mean, I was always pretty entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial. You know, typical lawn mowing businesses. Here in the Midwest, we call it bags out east called cornhole, I was building like accessing cornhole sets, and like, I was never really able to, I was fortunate enough to be able to play, you know, to sports all the way through college. So it was very tough to have a full time job. So like, anything I wanted, I had to sign also and kind of do my own thing. And I did all the way through college. And I just knew that like my coolest class in college, because that’s like 2005, six, that’s when, like, entrepreneurship became a buzzword, right. And my coolest class was just listening to war stories. Like they just started entrepreneur program when I was a senior. And he didn’t have any formal curriculum. It just had business owners that went to John Carroll come in, and just talk about essentially war stories. And I’m like, I really want to do this, I have no idea what I want to do. I just know I want to do something that I wasn’t being prepared for in school, because like, you go through corporate finance or preparing you to be a cog in someone else’s wheel, right. And I’m like, I don’t want to go work for GE, I want to work for GM. I don’t want to go work for the big four accounting firms. And that’s what they’re preparing for. So I decided to do this long story short, my dad’s best friend on the sporting goods store, and I was interviewing downtown when I got back from college, and I stopped in the store. And he’s like, do you want to work with me in a T Shirt Company? I’m like, I don’t know anything about it. I just know like, we always, you know, playing baseball helmets, great uniforms and everything. And he was worried because a competitor of his was potentially going to buy this out and he was worried that they’re gonna price them out of the market. Yeah, why don’t you just go work there for five, six months. See if you like it. And that’s when I met Nick. I showed up there and A man to think where we were and where we are now and where we’re going to continue to go. It’s amazing. Because I mean, we were there was four or five people. Yeah. All the technology things
Nick Maldonado 10:12
were hand built. Yeah, it was pretty much like a hobbyist garage sale type
John LaRoy 10:15
place. And the old company was a&r, custom monogramming and screening. I mean, that’s, that’s a frickin mouthful, right? Yeah, our business card was this big. And the whole thing was like, We got to shorten that because a&r Stupid original owners and rich, they started in 1970, in their basement grew to what it was. And at that point, when we were and it was like, mainly just small, local fire, police, some local rec teams and stuff like that, do you think about 2005 2006 That’s when Nike Under Armour introduced dry fit fabric, right? Yeah. And no one knew how to help print it. And I was a high school baseball coach back where I played high school ball and recruiting. I mean, you see it now, like you have Oregon, and the West Coast, which is Nike, and you have Maryland, on the east coast, which is under armour, and they literally have a new uniform, every game. And that’s how they recruit, you know, through merch. So I was trying to like, Man, I want the coolest stuff, because I want my kids to come to our school. Yeah, but no one could print it, you know, you print a black T shirt, and then it would work in our industry called dye migration, you print white on a black and somehow it would turn red. And it’s like, what the hell is going on? We need to figure this out. Because no one wanted to touch it. It’s expensive stuff. Number one, and then no one knew how to print the inks were formulated yet. So we’re like, let’s figure this out. And like kind of haphazardly, we decided to kind of carve our niche there. And we really became known, you know, first regionally, then, you know, growing to the seven, eight states around us. And then really through COVID, where we didn’t shut down a day, we you know, we didn’t skip a beat and a lot of business down south came organically up to us. So now we’re nationwide and really, really focused on the apparel redefined side and the athletic space decorating on top fabrics. So I don’t know if you’re expecting an answer that line Oh, my gosh, awesome.
Nicole Donnelly 12:08
Things I heard that I think are just remarkable is one, you seem like you’re a glutton for punishment a little bit like you wanted to do the hardest thing possible in college, you’re like, you know what, I love these war stories. Yeah, I want to do something really hard like that. And then the fact that you really niche down and we’re like, we want to do the really hard print jobs we really want to do, you know, this is a problem. And you saw that as a challenge that you’re like, we want to figure this out. And I also love that you’re it seems like your background in sports really is like something you’re passionate about. So being able to serve that industry, you really brought your passion for that to this industry. So that’s a really, really, really cool background. I love it.
Damon Pistulka 12:47
Yeah, especially exactly because you’re you understood from coaching, what it was like What really attracted the players and how hard recruiting was. And it’s in the the merch that stuff they were, I mean, I coached a long time did a lot of work in in large select League teams and in organizations and the merch makes a difference. You know, when the kids can walk in with the with the right bag, the right jerseys, the right hats, it’s it all makes a difference. And you know, dry fit. It just revolutionized that in a lot of ways to
John LaRoy 13:26
you and everything comes in cycles. And then also like, especially when you’re coming out of college, like sales is a big job for people, or a big, you know, niche that people will go into and a lot of insurance or financial sales, right, and then your first customers or your parents and your relatives. I didn’t really feel comfortable doing that, because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And as a lot of responsibility, so I’m like, I can sell to all my friends, all my family and my network of people. I played college baseball, college hockey, you know, wrestling all that type of stuff with and not actually forced them to buy for me like this is something that they need or want to buy because they’re coaching. So it was it was a much easier sale. And I didn’t feel guilty about it. Because you know, I still see my friends that are now having kids and their kids are getting out of college and whatever. You know, their first names are calling. Hey, do you want some financial advice? I’m like, You’re 22 man. But I get it, you know? Yeah. Yeah,
Nicole Donnelly 14:29
that’s cool. So it sounds like you’ve grown your business. A lot of it in the beginning was organic word of mouth, kind of kind of approach. And so what I want to I want to go down to Kurt real quick, because I know he’s look he’s out there, Kurt. Are you there? Can you hear me? Yeah. Kurt, how you doing down there?
Curt Anderson 14:50
I’m doing awesome, man. It’s just just it’s buzzing with activity down here and I just have to turn the screen off. But lots I’m loving what’s going on here. So I don’t want you want to dig into it. So John, whenever you’re ready to introduce the big machine here, man, this Yeah, this is a, it’s Damon. It’s a Ferrari. It’s an absolutely. Cool. So, Nicole, do you want to go there?
Nicole Donnelly 15:13
You want to dig into this? Yeah, let’s dig right into it. So one of the really, really exciting things that have hurt redefined, and underdogs doing is they’ve invested in this amazing new equipment, which is direct to garment technology. And it’s really state of the art. I’m gonna let John talk about this and talk more about this huge investment. And that they they’ve made in the company and what this this allows them to do for their customers. I think you mentioned earlier about underdog, I think this really one of the things I loved about it, when we were down on the floor talking to Liz, is that who runs this machine is that it’s on demand printing. So it’s a really, really great opportunity for those underdogs out there who are just starting out who are really just you know, they don’t have the room to have a lot of inventory, but they can print on demand. So John, I would love to hear we would all love to hear this year. But you know, what made you decide that you wanted to go in this direction? And tell us about this technology?
John LaRoy 16:11
Absolutely. So our purpose of the company is to be the best company to work for and be the best partner for our clients, and how that fits in there. Like every decision we make. We have to look at our purpose and our mission and see does that align. And for our clients, we got to have they like our tagline is sell more stress loss, right? So we don’t ever like saying no. And to Nick and Derek right here that I always say yes, you know, and it puts a lot of strain on them and a production manager and inside sales outside sales. But I don’t want to say no, I would like to say I can’t do that. But here’s another option, right. So I want to be able to fulfill everything that they possibly could want for their client, right, so they can be a better salesperson. So in this market again, before COVID Like this technology DTG has been around for about 10 years, but us being screenprint snobs, everything that we saw out there was for lack of a better term, it was crap, it didn’t feel good. After a couple of washes, it would fall apart. And for last three years, Nick and I have traveled all over the country, the five major manufacturers we did in depth text testing, on site printing, and then it might print great, but then you take it home wash it for 589 10 times, and we want to make sure that it will stand next to our screen print in terms of quality and feel. And this machine really does have it. But again, so prior to the pandemic, you know, the traditional fulfillment centers, like barstool, you know Barstool Sports, or now you go on their their merch site, they’ll have 450 skews, you know, depending on whichever region are selling to. And the old model was that would go in a warehouse somewhere in the Midwest and they’d been stocked, it’d be a nightmare, because you don’t ever know how to predict how many of each size. So this machine really allows brands like that that are not underdogs anymore. And the underdog to be able to offer as much as you want to as many people as you want, and have zero risk of inventory exposure, you know, a one that doesn’t print well, and you got to send it to, you know, Zimbabwe and you see them wearing, you know, the NHL, all star shirts, and Stanley Cup stuff that never really panned out. Well, in this in this scenario, you don’t have to worry about that, you know, you’re as good as your graphic designer, essentially. And your marketing, you know, if you can get that shirt out to as many people as possible. The good news is, if you only sell one, we can make it if you sell 5000, we can screen print it. So you have that flexibility within our company within our four walls to never miss a sale. And that’s something that was really important for us and for our clients. So that’s what we were focused on.
Nicole Donnelly 18:46
Oh, there’s so many Damon, there’s so many drop the mic moments here. Yes, we need to save for those, like, sell more stress less. Yeah, it’s amazing. I love that advice, sell more stress less. And I love to just like it’s just, you saw a need in the market, you saw that there were folks that were smaller that needed a solution like this. And that’s just great marketing for you know, to be able to just really stay close to what’s happening, and really listen and really commit to finding a solution for that. Daymond What were you going to say? I know you had some common well,
Damon Pistulka 19:17
and and from a manufacturing standpoint, you guys really hit hit the panacea, right? Because you can make one on this almost as efficiently as you can make 25 Probably, and that you can make the next one can be different from the one before it. And wow, that is that is for you to give someone the flexibility of that. It’s like hey, let’s try this design. Let’s floated by some people, let’s print three of them and send them out to some, you know, 20 of them or whatever it is and go out to some tests. And if it if it flies, and they can hit you know, maybe hit a mid size order from this machine, but then like you said, Go to volume in the screenprinting once they figure out things so It gives you like this whole lab of invention for your mind to work with
Nicole Donnelly 20:07
ability. I love that. Kurt, I want to turn it over to you. Why don’t you give it Kurt, you want to give us a tour down there of the machine?
Curt Anderson 20:20
If if you want to give us a minute, man, we So John, I’d love to know where you found Liz, because Liz is just absolutely amazing. Again, like your whole team, you’ve got dB sitting here, you got Nick rich. I mean, the whole team here is just absolutely phenomenal. Damon, when you walk into the office here, there’s all sorts of quotes from Vince Lombardi like you just you feel like running through a wall when you walk into this place. It is so inspirational. So this is I think Liz is gonna be she just came off a break. She’s gonna be teeing up the machine. She’s 21 years old, she just moved here from Portland, for this machine. I don’t know, John, if you want to get into that at all, but it’s just it’s just so inspiring. So Nicole, we’ll come back to you in a minute. But yeah, John, if you want to share a little bit about, you know, the that aspect of lives and like how you guys are just tackling this?
John LaRoy 21:09
Sure. Yeah. So in like I said, I’ve mentioned before we traveled the country looking for the best manufacturer, best partner for this direct to garment solution. And we ran into Liz there, there’s a shop in Portland at the time that was run in a couple of these machines. And Nick, Derek and I were on the strip. And we said, when we’re there, man, we’d love Lowe’s to work for us. Some things happened. And unfortunately, that company went out of business. And Liz, in us three kept in contact, because we knew we were going to move forward with with this decision. And I think, you know, as time went on, and I was able to talk to a little less a little bit more. I mean, it’s a big move for like I said, 21 years old, moving across the country with your family. It’s a huge decision. Big jump. Yeah, you know, so it’s been great. But we were really fortunate, you talked about stars, aligning that type of stuff, like, we go out there, that happens, she’s here couldn’t be happier. But one of the things too, that you just said to the team, like, for me, as the leader of the company, developing the next leaders of this company, like the sports you’ve talked about before, like, you’re only as good as your weakest chain, or weakest link or your weakest player, but like, I can’t do anything in this company without my team. My team is absolutely phenomenal. And we spend a lot of time developing the team. And that’s one of the things like you hear in manufacturing, right, like always looking to automate, to remove people. And that’s, that’s counterproductive and counterintuitive to what we really believe, because that’s one of the reasons I love this industry, because it is labor intensive, right, you need a team, you need everyone working together, the graphics department, the sales, department inventory, embroidery, print fulfillment, and everything’s done in house. And when we celebrate a success as a company, we have a failure as a company. You know, it’s not one person singled out, we really do share in the wins and losses because it does happen. And then sales side too, right? You know, we work with the same people over and over and over again, we have some customers that would be all 18 years and some longer with the company. And it’s a relationship based sale, which is almost extinct, you know, because of the Amazons of the world. How much can you do for me today? And how cheap and how fast? Can you do it? We’ll do fast, but we’re not going to do cheap, you know, so you can’t have bulk and have high quality fast and cheap you can have two of those three but with three is you’re not going to no one’s gonna suffer so but again, I just want to bring attention to my team, you know, outside of this room, what was in your downstairs out on the floor. Can’t say enough about the men and women here from all different backgrounds that have really really propelled our company to where we’re at and where we’re gonna go as well.
Nicole Donnelly 24:00
I love that. Yeah, reminds me of we just had a live show you were there. Damon yesterday, we met a wonderful entrepreneur at paddock power pedestals. And she same thing, I mean, just so such a focus on team and culture, and such humility and just really respect for the team. So thanks for sharing that, John. That’s amazing. Yeah. Go ahead. And
Damon Pistulka 24:23
then the addition to it, you know, it’s it’s everyone that that makes you successful, you know, right down to the person that that puts that last garment or piece of whatever in the box and ships it off to the person because if they just slam it in there, and it looks like that’s the customer experience opening up, but if it’s in put in there with love and caring, it’s a completely different experience. It takes everybody from the beginning to end to do it. Right. And that’s so cool that you’re seeing that and help them help build them.
Nicole Donnelly 24:57
Love it. Kurt. Are you ready for us down there? Ah ha.
Curt Anderson 25:03
So eight bricks is coming up and so Nicole for some reason and UK and year ended like he keeps freezing so Richard is going to come up and take a look at it. And maybe maybe if we almost even be better off putting it on a hotspot but so this is going to be pulling up the program she’s like she’s off doing a couple of things. But let’s just let’s take a little little tour on this. John if you like look at like these misters up here talk about like the misters and just everything that’s going on and this machine
John LaRoy 25:32
Yeah, I mean with us being you know, number five in the globe, there’s things that us and the manufacturer are learning as well. So humidity humidity is a big factor in digital printing to print heads always have to be in a constant state of moisture and Chicago in the summers humid but in the winter is dry and you have to add humidity to the production space and that’s where those dry fog machine or dry fog little misters are doing you know you think humidity and you think you know, wet you know but it does not decay because you don’t want you don’t want everything to be soaked you know so this this technology is really cool if you put your hand like a foot away from the mist you don’t feel any wetness is just pure dry humidity. That makes no sense.
Nicole Donnelly 26:17
Damon Pistulka 26:21
super cool and the technology in this thing is probably amazing to
John LaRoy 26:32
prison everybody else’s. Okay
Curt Anderson 26:39
guys, I’ve got a look at this. Damon. She hails from the Great Northwest out in your neck of the woods. So this is Liz. Liz is from Portland. There’s what’s going on here?
Basically, right. beautiful artwork to brands and showcase do you guys awesome. Love to see
Curt Anderson 26:59
why she’s pulling it up. So we’ve got she grabbed the shirts over here. We’ve been we’ve seen all sorts of like awesome examples. Like if you look at screen you know she’s she’s programming all this and
Damon Pistulka 27:16
this is cool.
Curt Anderson 27:19
I think Jacqueline, how’re you doing?
Jaclyn Kolodziej 27:22
I’m good. We’re just watching our new tech team fix the Wi Fi
Damon Pistulka 27:28
There we go. Hey
Curt Anderson 27:32
John, so I’ve been I’ve heard I’ve heard bits and pieces that you get into like, this is like one of five machines on the on the planet did you get into like, I’ll rock now is just such as the friary of your industry. And I apologize if I missed that.
John LaRoy 27:45
No, yeah. We talked a little bit about yeah, there’s, there’s more than five machines. This is the fifth location. Okay, semantics, but either way. Yeah, there’s there’s three big players in the market right now. And we decided to partner with Roc mainly based on service, service and quality. And Liz can attest to that. She’s been working on the specific machines and now this is a third generation of this machine. And she’s had great experience and she’s also a big reason why her input we decided to go with rock. Okay.
Jaclyn Kolodziej 28:23
Well, let’s ask Liz is she excited to be put on the spot today on camera?
Oh, my goal is pretty camera person. I mean, living as a 21 year old woman in the realm of social media. I’ve never been shy of that. Not too worried
Curt Anderson 28:44
about it. Yeah. Well, she is wise way beyond her her years. And so yeah, I dumped Jacqueline. I definitely asked her she said oh, yeah, come on over. No problem. So there’s like a we got the tic tac just generation down here. So we’re lacking it. So let’s, let’s see what we’ve got going here. Liz. Let’s do it
Jaclyn Kolodziej 29:08
I’m surprised Kurt is not running the machine yet.
Damon Pistulka 29:11
I know. No, no, no, we don’t we don’t let her do that. Yeah, like her do that.
Curt Anderson 29:17
Yeah, no, that would not be good, man. I’m not sure Jacqueline in my house. Microwave. Yeah. Demon I can touch an iron dude. I
Damon Pistulka 29:27
know. Yeah. Yeah.
Nicole Donnelly 29:32
He was so stressed this morning about a shirt. It’s like Nicole, I need Damon I just
Curt Anderson 29:38
I’m coming to a director garment place to call you know top notch for the two virgins team here. So yeah, alright, so Damon, we’re getting things loaded in here. Again. Let me just give you a little like, look, look at this thing. I mean, like, just look at this facility. I mean, it’s just state of the art. You can like what you know, you could eat off the floor. Big American flag when you walk in and just like this place is just firing.
Damon Pistulka 30:02
Nice. So what’s the first step it’s doing to the Yeah,
once I kind of walk you guys. All right,
Damon Pistulka 30:09
awesome. Give us a little tour. Oh, yeah, that’s gonna be cool.
Curt Anderson 30:13
So a, I mean, I want to pull in dB for a minute. So Derek, just, and again, I’ve been here in bits and pieces, some things I’ve missed. But Derek, from the sales side, just talking about like your perspective, like who you guys are targeting, let’s just share a little bit about like, from your world on the sales side of things here at apparel.
Derek Brubaker 30:31
Yeah, absolutely. So kind of four years ago, coming into the building, just kind of had like a different clientele basis, I had been in the industry for prior years to that, and have just been heavily focused on the graphic T side, which is kind of adjacent to what sports apparel is, you know, it’s more artsy, fartsy, high color stuff. It’s not solid, Logos names and numbers. So it kind of gets into the nitty gritty, and the real nerdy stuff about screen printing, which goes all the way down to your screen creation, your artwork separations, you know, your ink colors, and just kind of a little bit different process. Where I was previously was fortunately, a 100% waterbase shot, which is a different type of ink, as versus plastisol, which is really heavily used across the screen print industry as a standard. But I think in the days of lighter garments and things like that people want water based ink for a lighter feel, and just more so the fashion side and just those kinds of capabilities. So I had that background, and just kind of the small clientele that I brought with me over here was heavily based into, you know, that that was their need, you know, they wanted a soft feel, high color and stuff like that. And so, you know, this has kind of been a model that allows those artsy people to not order 144 pieces at a time, because it’s a 10 color print. Otherwise, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. And if you’re stuck with that inventory, if it was a, you know, crappy design, and nobody wanted, but they thought it was a one hit wonder, and they, you know, ordered their life savings of 500 shirts, and now they can’t do anything with it. This kind of alleviates that and allows you to not say no to people like which was what John said, like you don’t, you don’t miss the sale. Because, you know, if it doesn’t sell, you know, you don’t need to hold inventory. You can test the market, you can do a sample, send it out to your event, do pre sales, let people touch it, feel it see it before, you know, they set up an online store, things like that. So this has really pushed the boundary as to what you’re going to offer, especially now, with the stuff that you and Didi have been doing with SEO and how we’re going to try and you know, get in front of somebody’s face, you know, right away, you know, I’m searching the web for you know, custom printed T shirts an hour ago. It’s like, okay, how do we get them a sample with their logo on it? You know, in 24 hours, you know, Nick’s a big fisherman here. So we were kind of using this phishing terminology, just throwing things in front of people and seeing if they bite on it. And I think, you know, this just brings that probability scale up extremely high, especially when you’re delivering something with such a personal touch, I think in a quick amount of time.
Nick Maldonado 33:37
Oh, God, that allows you to serve your market with almost your resources.
Nicole Donnelly 33:40
Yeah. ability there. Yeah. Oh, go ahead. Curt. Go
Curt Anderson 33:48
ahead. No, that’s fantastic. Where are we gonna say, Nicole,
Nicole Donnelly 33:50
I was just gonna say we just met with an amazing entrepreneur yesterday afternoon, who has built his business on Amazon. And one of the things he said to us multiple times is traffic is money. Traffic is money. And I thought that was so brilliant, like the more traffic that you can get more visibility to the dollar. So it’s really you guys are looking ahead and seeing like, SEO and investing in that is, you know, really going to help grow that that side of your business. So I’d love to dive into that a little bit more. But Kurt, you want to turn it before we talk to Jack? tackling it.
Curt Anderson 34:25
So speaking of money, man, let’s let’s show me the money
Damon Pistulka 34:29
right now. Right?
Curt Anderson 34:30
So give us a little demo here. Love it.
So two different kinds of pretreatment, one for white garments, and then one for color garments. Well, that’s going to lay down your layer of retreat here, which is all programmable of how much you want to put down on it. Where are you placing it all depends on the size of the artwork, then it’s going to go here to your flashiness. And it’s going to dry up that retreat and make sure you get a nice solid base to print off. And same thing here with your heat presses. Basically like a giant iron, it’s just gonna lay everything down, it’s going to care that retreat to the garment. So make sure you get a really nice solid base to start printing on. But you’ve got to have those cooling sinks in and kind of let your garment rest before it gets. It’s slightly or here, I’m here is the white cabinets. As soon as the indexes, you can actually watch it lay down onto the garment. I was just telling them earlier that my favorite thing is how open this machine is. And you can see every single process and every step of the way as your shirts being printed, which is really nice and interesting to see. So later there
and after that it gets a THIRD FLASH to share that light to the garment itself and make sure you get a nice tacky base to lay down your color layer on top of selects viewing station area, it’s good for resting it lets it kind of relax into the garland itself. And then that way you can actually see how your white layer is turning out what it’s printing like so you get to see every step of the way here. Hey, Damon.
Damon Pistulka 36:19
Yes, 21 years
Curt Anderson 36:21
old. 21 Because I was not I was I was nowhere near Liz at 21. I can tell you that right now. So this is really impressive. Yeah, it’s so cool.
moves on to your color. Glass and this paper on its pivot different fans feel a different finish to your final friend of yours, which is really fun, matte, shiny, softer, Handfield those type of things when that final heat press there. But once it’s finished, that comes all the way around here to your offload station and you’ll be able to throw it through your dryer, and it’s cleared and ready to go.
Curt Anderson 37:09
Making T shirts, right?
Nicole Donnelly 37:10
About a boom. That’s how the magic happens. Yeah,
Curt Anderson 37:14
that was that was our little tour. So very cool. Well, why don’t you pick it back up? And how are we doing on time? We’re doing good on time. So let’s Hey, Nick, what? I have a question for Nick being an operations guy just share a little insight on your perspective from like, what what inspired it from your perspective to to make this massive investment.
Nick Maldonado 37:35
Um, I would say partially to operate in a segment that we that is underserved. I mean, this technology, like John said, has been available for like 10 years, but what rock has changed is they’ve put that workflow all in one line. So on every other technology, each component that I just went to is an offline system, which you used to have to do manually it would it would be a person at each one of those types of things. Either loading it for the pretreat or pressing it and stuff like that. So what they’ve done now is put it all into one workflow and it offers a unique opportunity to scale.
Damon Pistulka 38:13
Yeah. Yeah, that’s really something it’s really something
Nicole Donnelly 38:18
Well, I know you can’t see me here and right here. I wanted to just point out we have some fat we mentioned some of the folks who’ve come up to me we got Whitney here and she says spending time to develop a team that’s amazing that she shared that we’ve got several weighing in the house we’ve got MD Abdul Salam soy and James cookies thank you so much. Thank you guys for joining us today we if you’re just coming to us we’re here with underdog apparel and apparel redefine we’re meeting with John at dp and Nicole. Yes,
Curt Anderson 38:53
Jack this thing looks into anything is what What this showed us earlier. Like they literally have like this magnifying glass Dame and it’s just like, you go in and you see that?
Yeah, so this machine works. At least down in ink droplets are very like microscopic droplets and that way, take your CMYK values and combine them to create really vibrant colors and with the magnifying glass to see all those individual droplets especially with bigger, dense and bigger details and understand what fellas are going into.
Damon Pistulka 39:34
Yeah, that’s yeah,
Nicole Donnelly 39:36
I gotta say like this is it’s pretty, it’s pretty amazing for us to be able to be on the floor like this and be able to show how the sausage gets made, you know? Yeah. Pretty remarkable to get behind the scenes with the manufacturer and have them show their fabric and what they’re doing and the passion that colors. Those colors.
Damon Pistulka 39:56
Oh man, it’s so cool
Curt Anderson 39:58
to go get some ice cream. We just saw an ice cream shirt so it
Damon Pistulka 40:03
all came out completely different design just Pink Pink Pink. That is That is very cool. This right here, man,
Curt Anderson 40:12
how about here a couple Air Jordans right there
Damon Pistulka 40:14
that was that your hero was my boy? Yeah, for sure. Did I hear that correctly?
Derek Brubaker 40:23
Jay Cutler on that. Very Namsa
Curt Anderson 40:25
hero Mike. So Nicole, I’m gonna I’m gonna pass it back up to you. We’re having a man and it has just fired down here on the floor. It is so cool. This Damon. I know you got terrible FOMO right now, like, I can see the jealousy. But I don’t feel bad for you. Oh, sorry. But the time here will play out for tomorrow. But so I’m gonna get into like the entrepreneurial journey, man. It’s like, this is this is a lot. I mean, do you ever take a minute to like, just appreciate like what you’ve done, like the number of people that have jobs here, thanks to you. Like, you know, and the thing is that it’s a job. Like you have people that are providing for their families here. You know, like, you know, I become no good buddies with Derek, you know, he takes his kids camping over the weekend, like, there’s a story. It’s not like, I have 20 people on the floor or whatever. But like, there’s, it’s a very powerful experience. Like, I’m getting chills right now to think about it. But John, do you ever, like, take a moment? And like, just really relish what you’ve accomplished here? It’s such a young age. Um, no.
John LaRoy 41:29
I appreciate you know that. But you know, I, for me, one of the, we talked a little earlier about who is a hero of yours, and like my uncle, and then a couple other people I worked for when I was young, that were entrepreneurs, too. And I like, hey, what do you think when I decided to do this, and he told me, something that really does resonate with me is that, you know, you have a great responsibility. And I like you’re in charge of people’s families, like you just said, you provide for them. So like, I feel like if I do think too much about that, I’ll stop thinking about the future. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying. In for me, it’s what’s always kind of driven me, other than being ultra competitive is collective earn success, right. And again, having everyone on the team succeed, and we’re nowhere near where I want everyone to be. And my people that, you know, have listened to me and fall and believed in our vision. I want all of them to share in the success that we will achieve down the road. And when and don’t get me wrong, we’ve, we’ve come a long way. But we’re nowhere near where we’re going to be soon. So I really appreciate that. I mean, I’ve tried to be tried to be humble. But yeah, I do think about it sometimes. But again, it’s to even have that thought is a luxury that’s afforded to me by having a great team. So yeah,
Nicole Donnelly 42:52
that’s beautiful. It goes back to a moment might drop the mic, it goes back to what you said earlier about, sell more stress less and really focus on the future. So what is the future look like for apparel? And underdog apparel? What is it that you’re you’re building towards and that you guys are working to achieve together?
John LaRoy 43:09
Well, I mean, I believe we can be $100 million company. We want to serve the entire United States. Geographically, right. You know, one thing that Amazon again, in terms of speed of what they’ve read, kind of focus the American consumer is point of sale. Right, you know, so like that last mile type of delivery. Our industry is archaic. You know, it’s unbelievable, when we go to conferences, and we see products that are coming out, because I’ve been, I’ve loved manufacturing, you know, like we said, how the sausage is made. Every time I get to go look at a manufacturing facility and see how things are done. Like as my favorite show how it’s made, you know, how many hands actually touch it, and we don’t even actually so the t shirt here, but if you think about like, Venezuelan was areas where there, there’s probably like, 200 different hands actually touch one t shirt that you go by, which is insane thing. Yeah, but yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s got it. I just lost my train of thought.
Nicole Donnelly 44:06
Okay, that’s what happens when you go live, you know?
Nick Maldonado 44:09
Yeah, no worry. Try to focus on that last mile. But today
John LaRoy 44:12
Oh, yeah, yeah, so the vision of the company. So there’s seven UPS ground zones, FedEx round zones across the country. And for us to continue to expand. People want faster, faster, faster, right. But we’ll lose four or five days round to the West Coast. And for us to have a shop in the Vegas area to be able to serve that market in one to two days, somewhere in Colorado to be able to serve that market in one or two days. Because there’s a need for what we do, again, archaic industry, getting back into my train of thought. Leveraging the human capital with technology is something that was not even talked about five years in the industry. So we developed their own software called nomos, which helps the customer interact with us, because the information that’s coming to us in terms of like garments, colors, quantities, that type of stuff, it’s it’s out there, but how do you aggregate it the way I can kind of like compare it to is like imagine if you’re a bank, right, and then everyone’s coming to you with all different forms of currency. And then you have a customer, your internal customer, your, your tellers, that you have to aggregate all these different currencies and turn it into the US dollar, so that everyone kind of understand it. And that’s what normal is does. It takes information from all different clients, all different customers all across the United States, aggregates it into one digital format, so that everyone on our floor can understand, hey, this is a T shirt, it’s getting red and white print. And here’s the location. So for us to be able to serve the United States better, we need to have more locations across the United States. And what that will also do is bring consistency of quality, color and speed to our biggest client base across the United States. So that’s the vision that’s our it’s our B hag or big, hairy, audacious goal. So that’s it. I know. It’s lofty, but shoot for the moon, the stars, as my dad said, so shoot for the moon, you’ll hit the stars.
Nicole Donnelly 45:55
I love that. I
John LaRoy 45:57
think I got that backwards. Shoot.
Damon Pistulka 46:03
Sorry, we newer Yeah. That was good.
Nicole Donnelly 46:08
How do you guys feel Devi and Nick being part of this vision, this team? Like, from your perspective? What is this journey been like for you? And what are you excited about for the future of the company,
Nick Maldonado 46:17
I’m excited specifically for that vision. So when I came here, I came I believe, like a year before you. And I came from a different team, you there was actually a customer that was selling, he was getting out of the business. So I came here specifically to go to college. So management, organizational behavior, what I like about small business and growing businesses that, again, my goal was probably to go into a corporate, the corporate world like John. But what I like about here is that every decision that you get to make really impacts how you there’s a success or failure. And like John said, we’ve learned a lot from failure. And we do it as a team. And we we actually chose to do all of the hardest garments that are out there. Right. So I love the challenge of that. And I love the challenge of our vision of becoming the nation’s premier athletic deco decorator and moving to all these different sites.
Nicole Donnelly 47:07
I love it. John, you’re building a team of champions here. It’s cool. What do you think?
Derek Brubaker 47:11
Just the promise, promising environment that, you know, John kind of creates here, you know, being an industry, it is a very, as he stated archaic stuck in your way. And, you know, just the advancement that has happened over the past four years. I mean, you look at this, and you know, we’ve been around the country looking and trying to make the right decision on this. And just the amount of effort that is put forth here. You know, I mean, you know, it’s not going to be a stagnant and stale business, it’s going to always keep pushing forward. You know, so that’s, that’s exciting. It’s a very problem solving industry. So that’s what I enjoy. You know, it’s how do you how do you conquer the next, you know, Jersey that just came out? It has gotten knows what content? Or? Yeah, I mean, or Nick’s, you know, trying to get me to laser this skateboard for the past two years. And it’s just how do you achieve those things. And, you know, that’s, that’s why I stick around in this industry. And it’s fun, and it’s just a good environment.
Nicole Donnelly 48:20
I love that you can feel that can do spirit as everywhere you go. I’d love to take some time a little bit more about how you guys decided to reach out to iMac what inspired you to connect with Jacqueline and the iMac team. And what’s that been like for you guys?
John LaRoy 48:43
Yeah, so I mean, another thing kind of like my dad always said is like, when I was applying for jobs, like tell the world right tell, and we don’t do a good job of telling the world what we do. And that was a really big core focus for us for our 2023 goals for our leadership team is we need to be better on social we need to be better at marketing. We need to have marketing we haven’t. I mean, we’ve The fortunate thing is we haven’t spent $1 on marketing at all, you know, up until about a month ago when we first started doing a couple campaigns. So you really look at it as an advantage, you know, where we’re able to have pretty consistent solid year over year growth without kind of turn on the floodgates, right? So Dave Musgrave is a regional director out of iMac again kind of stars align reached out to me via email Hey, we got this grant program. Are you interested? I’m always wary of those emails are still getting ERC emails and I’m like that Yeah. EVP is like what the hell but anyhow, different story. I’m like, come on in. And he came in saw the place I think you would qualify for, you know, there’s there’s 15 I think different like areas and five different silos of what you could look at. And we sat down with our leadership team, we looked at, ironically Lean process improvement, which we’re actually doing right now. There was a lean process consultant we hired. We looked at the marketing aspect, we looked at automation. So we decided on marketing collectively as a team. And it’s been it’s been great with Kurt, Kurt and his team had been absolutely phenomenal. Derek DB and Didi, working together on a weekly basis to really drive things forward, redo our website, work on the SEO channels through the customer journey experience. We’ve been we’ve been thrilled and very thankful for the opportunity. Yeah, it’s
Jaclyn Kolodziej 50:29
been great to get to know you guys and work with you. So iMac is the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. Our goal is to serve all types of Illinois manufacturers with anything from quality, ISO certs lean growth. So I’m with these guys working through a big growth journey. They’re all in on their SEO program. We’re really hoping to see a drive some positive results. And all of that was brought to the table through cook County’s manufacturing reinvented grant initiative that’s going on currently. So this partnerships, great working with Kurt and his team, working with these guys that have payroll, teaming up with Cook County, and iMac is a win win. I
Nicole Donnelly 51:18
love that. It’s just so amazing to see everything that I’m doing and contributing to so many manufacturers in Illinois, and working with Kurt, you know, I’ve been able to see and experience that firsthand. And it’s just really remarkable what you guys have been doing. American manufacturing. We love it. So Kurt, I’d love to turn it over to you. What’s it been like for you working with underdog? Yeah, so has it been doing well,
Curt Anderson 51:42
man, it’s like, this hour is fine by so I’m gonna be like they’re super busy. And there’s a lot of you know, a lot happening here. So I have to be mindful of everybody’s time. But Jacqueline, first off, thank you, thank you, thank you for this incredible opportunity. Thank you for connecting us with the amazing, incredible team here at underdog apparel. And just what an honor and privilege it is just to get to know these guys. And like you said Daymond and we just love this weekend and week out like getting underneath. There’s American merit manufacturing Renaissance, and like, you know, the coal and iron, you know, you and I saw it in Alaska two weeks ago. You know, shot by shot manufacturer by manufacturer. We’re here in Chicago this week. So it doesn’t matter what state you’re in. And so speaking of whatever state you’re in, there is an M E P near you. Manufacturing Extension Partnership. So the I’d say the folks in Illinois are very blessed that I met. They are doing ratable work with manufacturers up and down the state here in Chicagoland just doing wonderful work. And Jacqueline, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Join us today for just a lot of exciting things. So, Nicole, why don’t we start winding down and we’ll come in, we’ll come into the homestretch. And I think I heard John might be a baseball fan. So there might be a baseball baseball question for John here. But, you know, we’ve got Derek over here, riches over here, you guys met Liz again, it’s just you know, there’s just great people putting out just incredible products. So John, we salute you, we applaud you, we commend you for just the relentless entrepreneurial drive that you have. And so the team and this is just awesome stuff you’re in and this stuff.
Damon Pistulka 53:17
Yeah, it’s so great. And you know, you guys are an incredible, you know, underdog. And you’re just such an incredible example of the business right around the corner that’s making a difference in people’s lives, first of all, in your community. And and man that just hits me when I, when I see that you’re like you said earlier, Kurt, you got and John, you mentioned that to the enormous responsibility of helping these people live great lives, through your business, and then seeing your passion and how your business vision for the business in the future. Oh, that’s a great, that’s a great shot right there. And, and it’s just, it’s, they’re, they’re literally so cool, because this is the heart of our country. And, and we we can’t forget this.
Nicole Donnelly 54:04
So true. My dad owned a manufacturing company. I’m a fourth generation entrepreneur. And so I have seen firsthand grew up seeing the impact that he had on so many lives. And I love seeing you building that here too. It’s very, very exciting. Thanks for letting us be a part of it and get to feel a part of what you’re building today. And Kurt, I’m gonna let you ask the closing question, because this question is pretty amazing. So take it away.
Curt Anderson 54:28
Okay. I like for him a little goofy internet here today on our end, so I apologize for that. So John, we might come back to this again. But So John, my question to you as we wind down the program that I know you’re a hockey player from college right, but you did I hear you say that you’re a baseball player. Yes. Yes. Are you a Cubs fan and White Sox? Which what are we
John LaRoy 54:50
White Sox but frustrated Whiteside?
Curt Anderson 54:57
2005 right, was it 2005 The last World Series Is my close or somewhere around there satisfy whatever? oh five. So okay, so here’s my question for you as we wind down the program. So first off, thank you to the entire team, Nick. dB, Jacqueline John. But John, my question for you is this. It’s a White Sox. Let’s say hypothetically, you just asked him for a friend. Let’s say it’s Fight of the Night. Okay. Playing White Sox are playing like Husum Nemesis like the Tigers, right? We hate the Tigers here in Chicago. So say the plane the Tigers vitamin the night. It’s Ty score. There’s a guy on second, okay. And the manager of the White Sox turns on the bench and he says, Hey, Leroy. Dude, get up here. Put in the winning run. When you walk up to the plate, what’s your walk up song?
John LaRoy 55:48
I gotta go to Oh, to my right hand guy here. I have a tiger Earl Morris.
Derek Brubaker 55:57
That’s a good one.
John LaRoy 55:58
That’s a winner. Yeah, well, thanks. I mean, you guys, again, phenomenal. I love the feature of manufacturing. Because one of the things we talked about here too, is like, I want to bring a focus to like create careers, not just jobs for people and focus on the do. I feel like it’s a sexy thing to talk about the sale. But no one really cares about how the sausage is made. And you have to make it you know, someone’s got to do it. And you know, especially before COVID Everything is being offshore to China and now nearshore down and Venezuela and Middle America, but we have such an amazing superpower here to manufacture that needs to be reawakened and to drive purpose and meaning to life, you know, and to and to work and we have it. It’s just that people don’t talk about it’s dingy. You know what I mean? Like, it kind of got that negative connotation on the uncle. That’s a plumber, another one, it’s electrician, but those are not the jobs that will ever be replaced by AI. Right. So it’s very powerful to have that skill and have that drive to to make America great again. Yeah, true.
Jaclyn Kolodziej 57:09
Love it. Love it.
Nicole Donnelly 57:11
Yep. And manufacturing. I think by nature, they’re behind the scenes. There’s everyone we need a cell phone. And I think that’s the part like they are the backbone of our country, the backbone of our economy, and our communities. And you know, we just love being able to put the spotlight on all the work that you guys are doing because it’s important you know, I mean, it really should on it, so very cool. Well, Damon, I’m gonna turn it over to you my friend. I’m channeling my inner Curt There we go.
Damon Pistulka 57:40
Well, thanks for thanks for reminding us in today guys. We really appreciate this and being able to go down to the floor see the equipment see the people see what you guys are doing and sharing it with us thanks so much. Thanks for iMac for for getting getting Kurt in the team and Nicole and everyone involved in and sure is exciting hearing about your journey and your vision I think I think we’re good Kurt I think this is this is another manufacturing ecommerce success series wrap we’re at the underdog apparel partners talking with them and iMac and how they’re moving forward man
Curt Anderson 58:16
good stuff dude. So Team Thank you. Thank you everybody who joined us today God bless you if you’re catching this later in replay boy anything you missed go back and rewind lots of golden nuggets here. And just you know what we’d love to say to close out man just be someone’s inspiration Damon because Boy, I tell you hanging out here with Liz DB DD rich John Nick, the whole team here is just pure inspiration. This is just gold. So Jacqueline, thank you my friend. You throw a great party man. I love hanging out. We’ve been besties for a long time. We just finally got to meet in person finally. So Jacqueline, thank you guys so much. Go ahead and close it out. And we need to come back here again and do this do this for parks do so.
Nicole Donnelly 59:00
Thanks, guys. And thank you guys. It’s been such a pleasure. And we’re closing it out here with the Windy City today. So everyone has everyone who listened and thanks for listening. I thank you. Thank you