SanMar’s annual National Sales Meeting looked a little different this year. In response to safety and health concerns over COVID-19, the team decided to make their week-long conference 100% virtual.
Family-owned since 1971, SanMar is a celebrated supplier of imprintable apparel and accessories for private and retail brands, including America’s number one preferred private label – Port Authority. SanMar has 10 national distribution centers, but they are based outside of Seattle, WA.
“Going virtual was a decision we knew we had to make,” says Jeremy Lott, President, and owner of SanMar. “Keeping our team safe is our number one priority. It was a pivot – but the team really pulled it together and I think the end result was really successful.”
Presenters and participants alike were sent care packages of snacks and a tech organizer before the meeting to help aid the virtual transition. “Managing the event from a distance proved to be a challenge, but the sales team really rose to the occasion,” praises Jeremy. “Working from home is not traditionally practiced by outside sales – they really thrive in face-to-face meetings. But some creative workarounds and their sense of humor really made this whole thing easier and more pleasant than it could have been.”
One of the things addressed at the sales meeting was SanMar’s recent shift to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). “It wasn’t an easy thing for anyone,” says Jeremy Lott. “From production to marketing to sales – everyone had to shift focus almost overnight. There are challenges that come with that kind of foundational and cultural shift. It’s forced us to be more realistic about how we move forward in this industry in a post-COVID world.”
But SanMar’s leader is ultimately extremely hopeful about the future of his company. “Of course there’s room for improvement. There will always be room for improvement. Personally, I think that’s what makes it so exciting to evolve and grow as a company. We’ve proved that we can shift focus, that we can work in new and difficult circumstances. Honestly, I’ve never been so proud of my team.”
Jeremy Lott is the President of his family-owned business and works in partnership with his brother, Jordan, and his father, Marty, who announced at the sales meeting that he is stepping back to let his sons run the company. Jeremy has been learning the ins and outs of the business since he was a child, following his father around the office. He’s worked just about every job he’s capable of, from pulling orders to purchasing. After launching his career as an investment bank analyst, Jeremy earned his MBA and joined SanMar full-time.
“It’s a gift really,” says Lott. “I believe that work-life balance is the true key to happiness and productivity. And because I was raised in this company and I get to work with family, I’ve never really had to choose between the two.”