ANN ARBOR – Regardless of the continued coronavirus pandemic, Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company has continued to develop. And a big a part of that is because of Amazon.
The corporate was based 15 years in the past by mates and College of Michigan college students Jerry Kozak and Ricky Winowiecki, who bought T-shirts they printed of their dorm room in Mary Markley Corridor.
Quick ahead to 2010 and the pair had a full-fledged enterprise with workers and plans to maneuver to a 12,000 sq. foot warehouse. In addition they obtained their merchandise onto on-line market large Amazon.
“It was a reasonably large sport changer,” stated Kozak, who stated it allowed the cofounders to maneuver to an actual residence after having slept for months of their 900 sq. foot warehouse.
A big chunk of their enterprise remains to be on Amazon, they usually even have College of Michigan hospital, native faculties, army and extra as shoppers.
Pandemic gross sales
As soon as the pandemic hit, like many companies throughout the nation, Ann Arbor T-Shirt Firm needed to quickly shut down. However because of Amazon, they nonetheless had stock to promote on-line.
“We hold 3-4 months stock in Amazon’s warehouses,” stated Kozak. “In March when every part went south, we needed to shut down — however our gross sales didn’t — which is important. Lengthy earlier than we introduced the PPE program and any assist, we have been in a position to inform our folks: ‘Don’t file for unemployment. You continue to have a job. You continue to have healthcare.’ Some folks have been placed on maintain however have been in a position to hold full compensation. So, we have been already simply positioned by our enterprise mannequin with Amazon to climate that a part of the storm.”
As soon as they have been cleared to return to work, Kozak and Winowiecki offered their workers with masks and sanitizer, constructed plexiglass boundaries round their warehouse and ramped up their HVAC system after it grew to become clear that COVID-19 is primarily unfold within the air.
Making ready for one more shutdown within the fall, they moved their manufacturing schedule ahead.
“We’re just about accomplished with our Christmas printing for now,” stated Kozak. “It was a busy yr however we have been in a position to roll with the punches and plan for it extra conservatively.”
When requested if being on Amazon saved their enterprise, Kozak replied, “It completely saved our enterprise.”
On Amazon Prime Day, Ann Arbor T-Shirt Firm greater than doubled its regular day gross sales. Past the additional money stream, it helped them perceive buyer demand heading into the vacation season.
“It pulled the purchasing season a bit of extra ahead,” stated Kozak. “It gave us extra perception on what can be widespread, and we’re hoping that if individuals are shopping for on-line will probably be a bit of earlier.”
Conserving it native
With about 100 workers, all operations are nonetheless primarily based in Ann Arbor.
Manufacturing and manufacturing takes place on the firm warehouse at 505 S. Maple Rd.
“We’re each from metro Detroit and we got here right here for varsity and completely liked town,” stated Kozak. “We additionally simply occurred to be right here as we have been beginning and realized the advantages – you’ve a very good agile work pressure, the manufacturing finish of the enterprise you’ve obtained all these suppliers that serve the auto business that make it a very good place to fabricate.
“Now we have a bit of chip on our shoulder, too, about all of our mates getting hoovered out to Chicago or New York. Youngsters in Michigan ought to be capable to begin a profession right here.”
Giving again to the neighborhood
Ann Arbor T-Shirt Firm has been rising 50% a yr for greater than half a decade. And with success comes duty, stated Kozak.
“It’s nice to make revenue and an excellent residing, but it surely ought to offer you a way of duty to the people who find themselves struggling,” stated Kozak. “COVID has pushed extra folks into E-commerce and we wish to unfold that round and ensure our neighbors are okay as effectively.”
All through the pandemic, they’ve purchased their workers present playing cards from native eating places, and just lately donated $10,000 to SOS Community Services in Ypsilanti.
To study extra about Ann Arbor T-Shirt Firm, go to www.annarbortees.com.
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