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Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson
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Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson

Author: Marshall Atkinson

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Success Stories is a podcast that is focused on the decorated apparel and promotional marketing industry. We highlight successful companies and people in these industries. What are they doing? How can you learn from them? Hearing their stories of success, you can apply those same ideas to your business situation and have success too.
30 Episodes
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On today’s Success Stories podcast we’re going to explore how the notion of core values plays an integral role in the development and growth of a company.  Both internally with employees, and also externally with how customers are served.Julie Denton leads the business development and customer service team with Blue Cotton will chat today about their four core values:Customer-CenteredProfit and GrowthIntegrity and CharacterFamily AtmosphereSo, get ready to take some great notes and learn how this stellar environment has lead to amazing growth and success for Blue Cotton!
As a business owner, how do you set up your company to work for you?  That’s an interesting point, and one that we are going to get into in tremendous detail with Mike Chong with Merch Monster on today’s Success Stories podcast.  Mike operates his business out of Oakland, California but also spends a lot of the year traveling.  He has built his business to not only maximize profit but also get more out of life in general.On this episode of Success Stories, we’ll learn the steps that Mike took to not only run his business better, but make himself happier simultaneously.
There is one shop in the industry that is best known for their technical expertise, willingness to experiment, and also their ability to train other shops on best practices...and that is with Lon Winters’ shop Graphic Elephants.Lon has been running his Elizabeth Colorado-based shop since 1993 and is world-renown for his expertise in screen printing.On today’s Success Stories podcast, we’ll speak with Lon about using specialty printing inks and techniques, the recipes for success, what he’s learned along the way in his career, and maybe even a glimpse into the future.  If you are a screen-printer, sell t-shirts, or maybe even are a print geek like me...this is an episode that you don’t want to miss.  
Have you ever wondered who is behind the amazing success of political fundraising for campaigns?  On this episode of Success Stories, Christl Mahfouz with Ace Specialties in Lafayette, Louisiana will share her story of the success of building a branded merchandising business that focuses on fundraising and politics.During the discussion, you’ll hear how she started her business in 2007 focusing on the oil and gas industry but pivoted in 2015 into the political arena.  In 2020, Ace Specialties raised over a billion dollars for candidates through branded merchandise and online stores.Whether you work with political candidates or not, learning how Christl and her team at Ace Specialties have generated that level of success is something that you should hear.
One of the most fascinating developments in apparel print technology that has surfaced in the past few years has been the development of hybrid digital and screen printing technology. This means that screens are used for the underbase, and a digital print is printed over that.This gives the shop plenty of capabilities to explore and capitalize on with their product offerings, workflow, and more.On today’s Success Stories podcast, we’ll talk to Sean Kirkpatrick with Integritees in Lubbock Texas, and explore the reasons why he jumped into hybrid printing with both feet and hasn’t looked back since.It’s going to be a fun and interesting conversation that you don’t want to miss!
How does humor play into how you think about sales?  Not sure if you ever have considered that, but I know one person that has, and it is Ron Goodwin with Goodwin Graphics in Cohasset, Massachusetts.Ron has been using humor in his sales approach since 1976 to help keep his customers coming back and develop relationships.  45 years later, some of his best customers have their sons or daughters doing business with his shop.  Now, that’s loyalty.In this episode of Success Stories, we’ll learn how he speaks their language keeps his customers coming back for more.
Guess what?  With this episode, Season 1 of the Success Stories podcast is officially in the books!  Thank you so much for tuning in and enjoying the stories of success that have been shared on this show.We thought it might be fun to turn the tables on me as the interviewer, and we’ve asked some of the guests from this season to record and send in some questions for me to answer.  Six of this year’s guests were asked to ask me three questions.  One was on a topic I gave them, question two was something they wanted to know about how to improve their business, and the third was a completely fun and silly question.Tune in to hear the questions that Danny Rosin, Robert Fiveash, Traci Miller, Mark Graham, Monica Maglaris, Alison Banholzer, and Brett Bowden have in store for me.  By the way, if you like their questions and want to revisit their episodes, don’t forget to click and launch those conversations!
Are you trying to compete in an oversaturated market?  These days, that can be a challenge even for experienced veterans of our industry.On today’s Success Stories podcast, Sara Webb with InTandem Promotions in Kennesaw, Georgia,  will help you unlock the secrets of infiltrating and succeeding despite overwhelming competition.  Sara will share some tips and tricks that have worked for her and allowed her to be one of the top sales leaders in the promotional products industry.If you are in sales, this is one that you don’t want to miss!
One way to expand your opportunities in business is to niche down and use a hobby or something that you are passionate about as a starting point.  On this episode of Success Stories, Scott Dawson with East Coast Screenprinting in Okeechobee, Florida will be sharing his story of how he turned his love for motorcycle racing into a successful business.So if you are ready to rev up your sales, Scott has a story or two that just might help.
Sometimes a basic t-shirt is more than just a shirt.  It can be a social or political statement.On this episode of Success Stories, Rick Roth with Mirror Image in Pawtucket Rhode Island will share his story of success with producing apparel for Human Rights campaigns, Amnesty International, and Farm Aid, to name a few.  Rick will talk about his involvement with these movements has led to not only business success, but personal success as well.Get ready to learn about these things and more on this episode of Success Stories!
Have you ever wanted to make your business more efficient but simply didn’t know where to start?On this episode of Success Stories, we’ll learn about the journey that one apparel decorator took, as she earned her Six Sigma Black Belt while making her shop more efficient.  Ali Banholzer with Wear Your Spirit Warehouse in Huntingtown, Maryland is our guest on this episode.  We’ll learn how she got started, what she learned on the way, and even what steps that you should be doing in your shop to be more efficient and successful.Get your notebooks ready, this is going to be a great episode!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “People buy from people they like.”  On today’s Success Stories podcast, we are going to be talking to probably one of the most likable people in the industry, Natasha Rawls with The MRL Group about her experiences on using TikTok to cultivate new relationships.If you have ever wanted to try to put together a short and engaging video to help with your marketing or lead generation, then this podcast episode is for you.So, get ready to take some notes and be ready to explore how to build a great TikTok video with Natasha Rawls.
If you are a successful contract decorator, you know that you don’t sell ink or thread on cotton...what you sell is Trust with a capital T.One shop in Connecticut has found a higher level of success by generating trust through hard work, creativity, getting the job done, and simply being their authentic selves.  On today’s Success Stories podcast, we’ll speak with Monica Maglaris with Liberty Print Co about what it takes to be successful as a certified women-owned and LGBT company in this highly competitive industry.
One of the most overlooked garments in the promotional and decorated apparel industry is the ubiquitous bandana.  This staple has been around our necks, heads, and faces for a very long time.Currently, there is a renaissance happening in the marketplace for people wanting customized bandanas for their events, company  fundraisers, and giveaways.  On this episode of Success Stories, we’ll talk with Holly and Heather Trevino, owners of Planet Apparel in San Diego, California about how they have become the go-to partner for all things bandanas.We’ll dig into some history, who are good customers for bandanas, and some tips on making your next bandana order a success.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many small businesses to their knees, or frankly, completely out of business.One Michigan business, Sandlot Sports, made a dramatic shift in their business from athletic and sports event-based apparel and merchandise to more of a B2B focus.  On today’s Success Stories podcast, we’ll be chatting with Ryan Dost and Adam McCauley about their business, the shift in a new direction, and their plans for the future in 2021 and beyond.If you have been trying to move your business in a different direction, this is one episode you don’t want to miss.
How are you with the mindset of failing?  I know that I usually learn more from my mistakes, than from my successes.  How about you?As we move through our careers and business, the concept of constantly evolving and learning has helped one business thrive.Eric Solomon with Night Owls in Houston Texas has taken the concept of leveling up by constantly challenging themselves to do better.  On today’s Success Stories podcast, we will explore the notion of how learning and the concept of intentionally conquering challenges have set them apart from other screen printers.
On today’s Success Stories podcast, we are going to talk about the “journey” that people have in the industry with Joelly Goodson, who is a self-described “Branding Badass” with Genumark in Calgary Canada.People start down their career path for whatever reasons, and it is always full of ups and downs.  Joelly has mastered the art of sales for Genumark to the point where she is recognized as the go-to person that can help.How did she go from “Zero to Hero” in this industry?  That’s the topic of today's Success Stories discussion.
One of the biggest emerging trends in the decorated apparel industry is the notion of “Print on Demand”.  This is the idea that you sync up the decoration of the shirt with the order when it is sold, and not in advance.This high-wire trapeze act happens courtesy of technological advancements in logistics, printing, workflow, and equipment.On this episode of Success Stories, we will chat with Kevin Oakley and Shane Snodgrass, the owners of Stoked On Printing in Las Vegas, Nevada about their push into this new ballgame for apparel decoration.  What it means to them, how they are doing it, and where the future is with this space.
Where a business owner’s journey starts, and where they end up is the topic of today’s Success Stories podcast.In 1997 Mark Graham founded Rightsleeve, a promotional design agency in Toronto, Canada.  The firm specializes in merchandising aimed at businesses, schools, camps, and organizations.  Mark successfully operated that business for 22 years before selling the company to Genumark in 2019.Along the way, Mark founded another company, commonsku, which is a trusted CRM, order management, and social collaboration tool for the promotional products industry.Today’s Success Stories podcast will focus on the origins of Mark’s career-building Rightsleeve, starting the beginnings of commonsku, and then his journey into building commonsku into what it is today.
Many businesses talk about growing their sales and setting goals.  For apparel decorator and marketing king Tom Rauen with Envision Tees in Dubuque Iowa, expanding the business and obtaining new customers has been a focus.He has developed an interesting way of doing that with his “Growth Acquisition System” or G.A.S. for short.On this episode of Success Stories, we will dig into exactly what this unique approach is, and why it is working so well for Tom at Envision Tees.
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