Owner wants to change customers’ buying experience
Michael Lovern likes to tell people he began his promotional marketing and corporate apparel company by chance. After working in the staffing and recruiting industry, he “had an itch to get out. I looked at different businesses,” he says.
The promotional-products business intrigued him. “I saw an industry that needed a facelift. It was unique in the fact there were no restrictions on who our clients could be. We can sell in many industries,” he says.
Lovern started Richmond-based Brandito in 2010 with a business partner who has since left the company. Lovern’s goal is to change his customers’ buying experience.
But first, he had to overcome his biggest obstacle — the buyer’s mindset. To do that, he established three core principles for the firm.
“The first was to focus on educating our customers,” he says. “It’s our job to be the expert on the industry. The second is the customer service piece has to always be at the forefront of what we are doing.”
The third focus is creativity, changing the routine and adding products that are different. One of the company’s customers, for example, had been handing out ink pens at trade shows. Lovern suggested using stain-remover sticks instead.
“To this day, they are still the most requested item by our field workers at conventions,” he says. “It’s a handy item people are not going to throw away. They remember where they got the stick.”
The company now has 14 employees and sells thousands of items. “The two items we get asked for the most are T-shirts and drinkware,” he says.
Customers range from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Growth has been steady. From 2013 to 2016 revenue grew 297.1 percent, making Brandito the top retail/wholesale firm this year in the Fantastic 50.