Focusing on Family Values, Giving Back and Providing Jobs
SanMar, a leading wholesale apparel company, is huge economic engine in West Chester
By Cathy Cuthbertson
Family-owned with eight warehouses across the U.S. and global suppliers, SanMar is a leading wholesale apparel company distributing men’s and women’s t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and hats, outerwear, uniforms, backpacks and more.
“You could name any color or size and we have it in our inventory,” explained Ry Bowling, general manager of the SanMar in West Chester Township. “We have more than 115,000 products, in all sizes, shapes and colors. Every day, we ship between 15,000 to 18,000 orders. In terms of the number of products that go out in those orders, that breaks down to about 500,000 to 700,000 pieces a day.”
Occupying 770,000 square-feet of warehouse space, the company is a huge economic engine, providing jobs for 975 employees. About 65% of those jobs are assigned to product selection — pulling items from shelves for shipment, pushing a picker cart, or operating machinery.
“We pride ourselves in being able to give back to the community and provide jobs to families so they can earn a good living,” Bowling said. “The biggest thing about our company is that we focus on family values and we’re going to treat you like a family member.”
Indeed, the company’s values and legacy date to its launch in a Seattle basement in 1971 when owner and founder Marty Lott declared a simple, worthy mission: “Be Nice and Tell the Truth.” Fifty years later, that mission remains the company’s driving force.
“We abide by those words every day,” says Bowling, an Ohio native raised just outside West Chester. “It’s about doing the right thing, for our employees and our customers.”
As a privately owned wholesaler with a high-quality inventory, SanMar’s products are sought by Fortune 500 companies, schools, sports teams, and government entities, to name a few. At the end of the year, the company ramps up to fulfill gift orders.
“Christmas is our peak season,” Bowling explained. “We supply designer brands like Eddie Bauer, Red Kap and Nike; there’s nothing like a nice year-end gift with a designer name, a nice jacket or hoodie.”
Wholesalers who want to do business with SanMar are supported in many ways, including an innovative website featuring SanMar U, a resource providing expertise on a range of subjects from trends and styles, to best practices in business and marketing. The company also sets itself apart when it comes to shipping and fulfillment.
“West Chester is a great location for distribution,” enthused Bowling. “The vast majority of products reach customers in a day, whether FedEx, UPS or another company. Our location is such that we can reach 60% of the U.S. population in a single day.”
As the company does business with a global reach, it’s committed to sustainability and corporate stewardship, partnering with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Labor Association. Recently, SanMar announced a new company vision, A Canvas for Good, drawing on its long-held principles of “be nice and tell the truth,” to demonstrate that their t-shirts and products can serve a greater purpose to inspire belonging and bring communities together.
Last year, the company was recognized as a U.S. Best-Managed Company. Sponsored by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal, the program recognizes outstanding U.S. private companies and the achievements of their management teams. Designees have demonstrated excellence in strategic planning and execution, a commitment to their people and a dynamic, resilient culture.
For more information, visit www.sanmar.com.