With Cox’s graphic design background, and Alexander’s handling the accounting, customer service, and shipping, the two started with the hope of selling 100 hats a day. Now, Custom Patch Hats sees months with 90,000 hats sold. It placed 140 on the INC. 5000 list for 2022, with five-star ratings on Google and TrustPilot. Despite having zero prior experience in the apparel or manufacturing industries, Cox and Alexander have grown into a successful, custom patch headwear company.
They believe that this gave them fresh perspectives on the various aspects of the business, and enabled them to break free from norms and routines that typically plague more established corporations, with a focus on continuous improvement. This hunger to achieve perfection was present from the beginning, in regards to their products and customer interaction, but it has since grown to include enhanced employee experience and process optimization. It is in these four areas that Custom Patch Hats has developed a reliable path to growth and success, transforming it from a one-room startup, into an impressive business in just a few short years.
Speaking from the standpoint of a concerned customer, Alexander said,
“If you know there’s a problem, there’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if I can see it or not.”
He also said,
“We see a logo, but you see your dream.”
This respect for their customers and their needs has driven Custom Patch Hats to improve their designs and services. Since the founders themselves were the initial workforce, they understood the day-to-day struggles every employee and new hires would face.
As such, every task was approached with success and feasibility in mind. From the beginning, new clients are put in direct contact with a dedicated graphic designer, rather than have orders funneled through different departments before finally reaching the talent. These designers can form lasting relationships with their assigned clients, enabling them to learn the needs, goals, and culture of each consumer. Communication is expedited, ideas flow more freely, and there is no middleman.
As mentioned before, this concept was born from Cox and Alexander’s analysis of their business needs, unhindered by any prior experience or stigmas that could’ve come from years of working in the industry.
“We had our own thoughts on it. We did it our own way. We’re hardcore about making sure that everything we did is awesome, not average. We don’t want to be good at anything. We want to be great.”
To reach the high level of quality demanded at Custom Patch Hats, Cox and Alexander have focused on finding and retaining the very best people.
“We’re constantly listening to our employees, and what it is that they want.”
This statement from Alexander reflects the appreciation that the business has for its workforce, a concept that he admits is a product of modern-day values and expectations. The company provides benefits and insurance packages that exceed those offered by most companies of similar size. Catered lunches, half-day team-building activities, and appreciation socials are funded by the business and provide a fun, informal setting for employees to relax and network.
The founders also utilize services like
The combination of superb products and superb people has made the company grow by leaps and bounds in a very short time. However, growth this fast is rarely controlled or efficient. Due to assigning dedicated graphic designers to each client, every job is customized.
Although this provides incredible results, it does cause a lot of compartmentalization, which can be difficult to streamline. The rapid growth caused Cox and Alexander to resort to what most companies do, throw more money and people at problems as they arise. Alexander recalled,
“Three years ago, four years ago, we got in our first office, and we’re wide eyed. We’re like kids. Oh my God, could you ever think about filling this up? Now we have six of those.”
The growth has been so rapid, that Cox and Alexander move desks approximately every other month, just to make room for operations. They were speaking to me from one of their warehouses, with no A/C in 90-degree heat, as it was the only place without work going on. With such an explosion in size, there are inefficiencies that must be addressed, while still accommodating the growth they see with the resources it needs.
Cox mentioned that these inefficiencies have less impact on smaller scales but need to be addressed as the business footprint increases. Take software, for example, Cox said,
“There’s people’s jobs that are literally copy and pasting information from one software to another.”
Alexander spoke about people facing downtime, due to bottlenecks outside their control. Identifying and eliminating the inefficiencies is a key objective for improving the operations at Custom Patch Hats, which will make future growth and expansions much easier to manage and execute.
Cox’s final words of wisdom were from his college arboriculture professor.
“Take time to sharpen your blade. Now, he was literally talking about a chainsaw, but we use this in everyday work. Take time to shutdown to readdress things.”
This quote sums up the efforts the founders of Custom Patch Hats have taken to make the company the best it possibly can be. In the beginning, their primary motive was to make the best product possible while continually searching for ways to make it even better. In many respects, this is the finest obligation an entrepreneur can place on themselves. You can’t do more and should never wish to do less.
As Custom Patch Hats has grown, Cox and Alexander have expanded their sights to employee satisfaction and retention, as well as maximizing internal efficiency. While a first-class product is paramount to any successful manufacturing business, this requires a team comprised of the best people, working with the fewest obstacles.
Making Custom Patch Hats a great company to work for, has enabled Cox and Alexander to maintain that dedication to continuous improvement while combating their various growing pains and process shortcomings. By routinely sharpening their blades, the Custom Patch Hats team has developed a plan for success that will evolve and grow along with their business, giving them the competitive edge needed to reach the top of their industry.