Amber: Hi, welcome to The BusinessMakers USA. I’m Amber Ambrose, and we’re here with Matt McCauley of Logo Brands in Nashville, TN. So, Matt, welcome to the show.
Matt: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Amber: Yeah, we appreciate you coming. So tell me, in this moment, a snapshot of Logo Brands; what is it and what do you do?
Matt: We’re one of the top hard goods suppliers, meaning non-apparel, in the license industry. So, we make stuff like tents, chairs, coolers, blankets, bags; for colleges, MLB, NFL, NHL; all the pro leagues you can think of, and we also do some custom items and private label as well.
Amber: Ok. So, no t-shirts, no hoodies, no scarves.
Matt: No. In our industry, they break it up into apparel and non-apparel, typically. So we have gone after the non-apparel industry, and this past year we have been number one.
Amber: Ok, and so how does it work? Do you sell direct to consumer? Or, do you go through retail channels? What is the setup?
Matt: All of the above. We do have our own website, but most of the online business is through people like Amazon or large fanatics, or different retailers who have online stores. Then we sell to the store direct, or we may sell kohls.com or Walmart.com as well. We cover all the channels.
Amber: Ok, but then also in some physical retail stores?
Matt: Absolutely. Book stores, mom and pop shops, the large retailers, big boxes, we cover it all. Our distribution is pretty wide. We will go all the way from sporting good to grocery stores and Walmart, Target, and all the mass retailers as well.
Amber: What is your most popular item at the moment? I’m sure that trends, those trends vary, but I’m real interested in that.
Matt: It does. The product line category, chairs is what we started with. We were Logo Chairs, and then we changed our name to Logo Brands because now we do so many different items. The chairs still are a good portion, although, tents and blankets are just as big of categories now. What the single SKU that is the best seller? Usually depends on whose winning at the time.
Amber: I can imagine. Maybe just the type of product that you sell, but the blankets and the tents are coming up.
Matt: Yes, just as fast. So we’re really growing the other categories as well. And then you will see different teams that jump up every year, depending on whose winning.
Amber: Sure, so Alabama has been the most popular for the last twenty years.
Matt: Well, let’s see. Clemson did better last year, because it’s not about who ultimately wins, typically. It’s who looks like they’re having the best season during the season (Amber: That’s fascinating.). People are the most excited about that. Alabama has been there for awhile (Amber: Right.), so their fans aren’t as excited as Clemson fans were, too, so.
Amber: Sure, have you ever been able to predict any National Championships, or Super Bowl winners, just from the amount that you sell during the season?
Matt: I have guessed correctly, and we will, like for example, we loaded up big time on the Cubs. We predicted that they would actually make it to the World Series this year, and that paid off. So, it’s one of those you take calculated risks, and you say, hey, we think this team’s going to do it, and if so we want to make sure we have the inventory. So we took a chance on them, and so far, (Amber: so far so good.) exactly.
Amber: So if you hadn’t bet on the Cubs this year, what would the difference in your sales look like?
Matt: We would have had less sales if we had not bet on them, for sure. And we wouldn’t have been able to chase this business that we are chasing right now. The flip side is if we bet on in at miss, then we’re set for inventory to start the season next year.
Amber: Have there ever been any risks like that where you’ve predicted something and it just totally didn’t pan out?
Matt: Not a total bomb, because typically they sell these well enough, they didn’t lose until the very end so we got enough of the sales there to (Amber: Break even, on that.) exactly. Or carry it over into next year.
Amber: So, tell me about your supplier. Are you a manufacturer, do you contract with someone?
Matt: We have a few dozen factories overseas that we work with. Quite a few of those actually only make product for us. One in particular that we started him our second year in business, we wired him money and he was the manager of the factory that we were working with, and we set him up in business just to make products for us because we wanted to grow and do new items.
Amber: And that’s someone there that is kind of on call, almost.
Matt: Exactly. What that allowed us to do was to take our business and do what our competitors weren’t doing. When we needed a rush order, we told them what to make and when. We’re his only customer, so it doesn’t matter to him which order he did it in. So, fast forward, sixteen years later we are his only customer, and so that’s really worked out well.
Amber: So it sounds like you have a really close relationship with your supplier.
Matt: Yes, Martin is his name and actually, it’s more than just a business relationship. It’s almost like family, we’ve dealt with him so long. My dad actually gave his kids their English names. His daughter, Rachel, who just turned 15, actually lives with me now. She’s a foreign exchange student here and wants to spend all 4 years of high school with us, and maybe even college. So, we have the daughter that my wife always wanted in a little different way.
Amber: So you guys, let me do some math here, it’s really hard. I’m much better with words, but eighteen years in the business?
Matt: Seventeen this year. So, close.
Amber: How did it sort of evolve to where it is now?
Matt: It was one of those where, I had an idea, my dad was a serial entrepreneur and he had done a bunch of stuff. The previous one to this was building houses, and he had retired for a few years, and we talked about starting a business together. We were brought the idea of the folding bag chair when it first came out. I mean there was (Amber: Like the camping style chairs?), exactly. And hardly anybody had them at the time. So the sales training I got from my dad was: fill up the van, go get us some accounts, don’t come home until the van is empty. And that was literally the training that I received (Amber: Baptism by fire.), exactly. He didn’t even pay any commission back then. I got a raw deal, I suppose.
Amber: Has there ever been a license that you went after and you didn’t get, and why didn’t you get that?
Matt: Yes, one of the most recent ones was the NFL. We, a few years back, three almost 4 years ago went after them and did not get the chairs, and tents, and coolers that we were hoping to get, which was the core of our business. But really they just, they didn’t know us. We didn’t have the relationship with them, and they weren’t comfortable changing this business over to someone new that they weren’t familiar with. So, we went out, and hired some key people to have the relationships and added them onto our team, and make it stronger, so that when it came time, which is just a few months ago (Amber: Just in time for the season.), exactly. That we were able to build those relationships and get the license.
Amber: Any advice that you give to people that want to get into the business of selling sporting goods, and related to sports?
Matt: I recommend they just stay out of the business, but if they have a great idea, they can just bring it to us and we’ll make it for them.
Amber: Even better.
Amber: Teamwork. Thank you, Matt. And that wraps up our interview with Matt McCauley of Logo Brands on The BusinessMakers USA.
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