Celebrating 30 Years in Business

Celebrating 30 Years in Business

This August, Righteous will reach a big milestone in business success. Our CEO, Alyson Salz, reflects on the journey from humble beginnings in 1989, to where we are now:

 

Every business has their nice polished origin story about the glorious vision that was the germ of their successful enterprise. It makes for nice PR pieces and shows how the early passion and hard work created a straight line to success.

 

But, what if the actual story has a lot more twists and turns, mistakes, and continual transformation? Then it would be our origin story. That’s the one I’m telling today. Because when you have 30 years in the rearview mirror it makes it a lot less painful to recount the really bone-headed things you do while trying to be successful. Like taking any business you can get, working through holidays, missing your kid’s award assembly, or downplaying the incredible contributions of your team members.

 

Our genesis was not a glorious vision or a heartfelt passion of this one thing that we had to do.

 

Instead, we had two super practical, non-sexy reasons to start our business: First, my husband Rick was an independent rep for Geiger Bros., a nationwide promotional product distributor. The back office there kept making mistakes in his orders. So, he had to keep making apologies to his customers. That wasn’t super fun.  Second, we genuinely wanted to be able to buy T-shirts at low prices so we could provide greater value to our customers. No business license, no wholesale shirts.

 

We were in college, with lots of friends who needed T-shirts for their youth groups, mission trips, and summer camps. So, we started as true middlemen, taking orders, getting the garments and bringing them to local printers.

rubylith

Those were the days before widespread computer use or the internet. Invoices were all written by hand in little carbon copy books. Stencils were made with great rolls of rubylith

that we hand-cut with Exacto blades. Our film had to be shot and reshot by a local blueprint shop to get reverse or knock-out images.  I remember one job that required the precise placement of thousands of dots by hand on our film separations. There is no way anyone would do those things today.

word art

It took us over three years to get our first computer and laser printer. I wish you could see the joy on our faces as we curved text into an arc, as if we had just done some monumental thing. We played with that Corel Draw program for hours on end, and sometimes created really ridiculous font contortions just because we could.

 

Eventually we moved from our home-made equipment (don’t ever take your dining room table and turn it into a printing press), to factory-made manual presses, to automatic screen print machines, to many embroidery machines, and technology transformations later; growing from our home (OK, garage – where else would a genuine screen-printing operation start?) to larger and larger manufacturing spaces, eventually owning our own building. Our M.O. is to find the new, the better, the next thing; to keep improving and transforming, so we never take anything for granted or stagnate.

 

If you find yourself hankering for an entrepreneurial foray or just want to think that way, there are a few insights we have picked up along the way.

 

  • Hire the best people you can afford. Cheap ones are always the most expensive in the long-run.
  • Adopt new technology sooner rather than later, even if its not perfect yet. You’ll stay way ahead of the curve.
  • Always do what you say you are going to do. Nothing kills trust like going back on your word.
  • Try things. Make mistakes. Apologize. Retool. Try again. Life is more fun this way.
  • You never know what you are capable of unless you risk and try.
  • Learning is never done. Stop growing, you start dying. Life is about continual transformation.

 

It’s been 30 years since we got our first business license – the week we got engaged- and it’s been a crazy adventure ever since. Entrepreneurship will form you, teach you, discipline you, grow you and make you think differently (way differently) from how you did when you started…..and that’s a good thing.

 

Here’s to many more years of working alongside amazing team members, and serving awesome customers.

Recipient of Pancheros Vendor of the Year

Recipient of Pancheros Vendor of the Year

Everyone wants to be a winner, and when the prize comes from helping your client win, the winning is that much sweeter. At this years International Franchise Association’s annual conference, Righteous was awarded Pancheros Vendor of the Year by Pancheros Mexican Grill, a fast casual chain based in Iowa.

Our Partnership

Over the past six years we have worked with Pancheros on their company uniforms, limited time offer (LTO) gear, retail merchandise, and corporate identity apparel.We have enjoyed collaborating with the Pancheros’ team to help them strengthen their brand voice andgain new fans and repeat customers through creative and fun projects

For their participation in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) we created team rider bike jerseys and fun fan giveaways. This event attracts riders from across the United States providing Pancheros an opportunity to increase their brand exposure and have some fun doing it. 

Core Values

Pancheros has been on a strong growth trend, expanding into new territories and regions as they spread awesome Mexican food to the Midwest of America. They believe in doing things differently, with an emphasis on quality and not relying on the status quo. Rodney Anderson, Pancheros Founder and CEO is quoted as saying, 

You can think you know everything about your brand or your product, but then you can ask key customers and they’ll touch on changes they might like to see. If you can perfect those changes, and realize you might not know it all, it’ll separate your brand from the others.

Pancheros Mexican Grill
Rodney Anderson, CEO

We tend to agree with that sentiment. As good as you are one day is only valuable when you can consistently deliver on your brand promise every day. Our team is always looking for ways to improve and learn from the past, whether successes or failures. It requires a bit of humility to acknowledge, like Rodney, that you might not know it all. We share the same goal, we want to separate our brand from others by consistently offering excellent service and making continual improvements so our customers have the best opportunity to grow.

It feels good to be recognized by a long-term customer for our innovative services and products. But, tomorrow is another day to prove ourselves all over again.

 

Sponsorship & Donation Policy

As citizens of our local community, we are honored to participate in fundraising drives that benefit organizations with shared values and that adhere to high ethical and financial accountability standards. We generously donate to several non-profits who meet our criteria. Occasionally throughout the year we will also provide products or services to others who provide a formal written request. Our top priority in giving always goes to organizations which do business with us.

Our goal is to provide exceptional value to every customer in every business transaction, whether non-profit or not.

While businesses do enjoy the opportunity to donate products and services within their own communities, there is another, often overlooked, group that can be tapped – that large body of private citizens who enjoy the benefits that healthy community provides, whether they be employed privately or at the public’s expense. We encourage the participation of all members of society to strengthen and improve our common community.