In today's fast-paced work environments, workers need arc- and flame-resistant coveralls, high-visibility vests, temperature-regulating jackets and more.
Sound complicated? Don't worry. We got the low-down. Read on for eight tips that will make your rugged and safety apparel promotion a safe bet for sales.
1. Have Some Standards
Danny Tsai, vice president of merchandising, Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., noted that end-buyers of safety apparel typically want materials that have been certified by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). "Look to the ANSI and ISEA standard as your guidelines, as this is in demand for the safety industry," he said.
2. Offer Outerwear
For cold-weather markets, Tiffany Anderson, regional sales manager for Overland Park, Kansas-based DRI DUCK suggested outerwear. "Not only does a jacket have a high perceived value, but it can also be worn on or off the job site," Anderson said.
3. Look Over Logos
Fred Haws, owner and president of Haws USA, Apex, N.C., cautioned distributors to be wary of potential decorating difficulties. "Before an order is wrapped up, make sure the logo, the logo size and the logo location work before accepting the order," Haws said.
"Sometimes we see orders come through that because of the thickness of the jacket, or because of an inside pocket, etc., a certain logo can't work," he continued. "That conversation should be held prior on this work."
4. What's Your Function?
For safety apparel, decoration takes a backseat to function. Tsai pointed to triple-needle stitching, diamond-quilted microfiber linings and brass zippers as a few features that can enhance functionality. "The top feature is definitely 3M reflective tape for visibility and security, which is featured in many ANSI-certified garments," he added. Anderson listed articulated elbows, flat-knit rib cuffs, UPF sun protection, three-piece hoods that fit over hard hats, and stain-resistant Teflon coating as other desirable enhancements that keep the job site safe.
5. Give It Some Gas
"The market that we see going real well is anything petroleum-related—oil, gas, drilling," explained Haws. "There are pockets around the country that are booming right now because of drilling or exploration, and that seems to be a good market for workwear items."
6. Try Nontraditional
With the economic downturn resulting in reduced marketing budgets in "classic" safety markets like trucking and construction, Anderson urged distributors to explore nontraditional alternatives. "Think outside the office staff—many companies and markets have warehouse and production staff that would benefit from rugged apparel," she said.
Anderson described a promotion where an electrical contractor wanted to run an annual incentive program to encourage good safety habits among employees. In the program, workers would accrue points throughout the year that could be redeemed for various awards. "Lower points will get tees and promotional accessories, while larger points accrued will get top-of-the-line merchandise such as waterproof softshell jackets," she said. "We produce custom flyers for each award level and these are posted in the office so everyone can see what they are working towards."
8. Use a Uniform Program
Many companies rent or lease workwear from laundry programs, but Haws explained that some companies are beginning to purchase jackets and other workwear items outright as a cost-saving measure. For suppliers, these informal uniform programs can result in residual orders.
"Once a company gets into a uniform program, they continue to order as new people enter the company," said Haws. "They need another jacket, they need four pairs of pants, they need two shirts and a jacket—once that relationship gets started with a program, that residual revolving door works well with a workwear program."