Nothing excites us more than learning about our Members and their successes! Kevins Worldwide growth has been truly remarkable as evidenced by ranking on Inc.’s list of fastest growing private companies three years running and recognition as a Top 100 Promotional Products Distributor by ASI.
Today the Scranton, PA company occupies 85,000 sq. ft. housing corporate offices, a 3,000 sq. ft. showroom, embroidery and screen printing operations, art department, and a state-of-the-art warehousing and fulfillment center for corporate programs. Kevins serves businesses of all sizes and segments, but the majority of their business is from a broad base of corporate clients who value a level of service that makes their job easy.
Founders Larry Tinkelman and son, Kevin, both brought strong apparel manufacturing backgrounds when they launched their promotional products company. Larry started his career in management training with Leslie Fay rising through the ranks to become General Manager of their 2,400 employee Wilkes-Barre, PA plant. After 10 years he left the company, striking out on his own by purchasing Linden Dress, which led to the acquisition of other garment factories.
After college, Kevin also chose apparel manufacturing and quickly assumed leadership roles becoming General Manager of twoplants. With USA manufacturing rapidly changing, Larry sold his companies and with Kevin, founded Kevins Wholesale in 1994. Today, Larry serves as Chairman and Kevin as Managing Director with responsibility for operations including IT, quality assurance, production and retail.
Brother Scott Tinkelman joined the family business in 2002. Scott holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and had extensive experience in banking and the music industry prior to taking a role at Kevins. Currently he serves as Executive Vice President with responsibility for developing and managing relationships with clients.
The Tinkelmans’ promises to “make you and your business a success” and to “make you look like a super star” describe their exceptional level of service which created the foundation for growth. Their goal is a true partnership which consistently beats expectations delivering exceptional results while saving the client time and money. Their goal is to be the “One Stop Shop” for creativity, suggestions, best practices, research, sourcing, automation and outstanding products designed to achieve results for their customers.
The Tinkelmans positioned Kevins with state-of-the-art software and equipment and multi-step quality control processes to assure exceptional quality in every step whether it’s decorating or order tracking. Kevins also stresses the importance of streamlining their processes including billing by email which speeds getting invoices to the right person for approval.
Kevins’ ideal client is Corporate America with channels across the board such as non-profits, financial institutions, consumer goods, craft brewing, bands, and retail operations. Scott adds, “we have found a niche with eCommerce, with the platform of IT, fulfillment and decorating in a one-stop shop!” All embroidery and screen printing is done on site so orders are turned around quickly and with the highest quality controls.
The company’s website is designed to generate leads. Additionally, What’s New, Hot and Trendy, closeouts, seasonal items and more are featured in social media, newsletters, flyers and weekly specials. For small clients like a local Boy Scout troop, and the younger generation in general, a design-your-tee-shirt option (www.findashirt.com) offers the ability to create customer shirts using a logo gallery or the customer’s art or photos.
Because of their reputation for excellence, they also provide decoration and fulfillment for other distributors including major on-line companies. They continue to expand product and service offerings. One addition valued by their customers is printing… from business cards to checks to presentation folders.
Scott shared that, even though they have experienced remarkable growth, they faced challenges along the way. The number one competition remains the internet. “Companies like 4Imprint and Amazon can certainly deliver the goods but often fail to have the resources to support any other issues.” Kevins sets itself apart with its responsiveness to customer needs and issues. The company excels with its ability to quickly resolve any problems presented by the customer, thus retaining the customer for the next order. Scott shared a recent event that could have been disastrous for a client had it not been for the quick response of the Kevins team to completely turn the situation around. The client remarked that he would be a client for life. “We function more as a partner than a vendor”, says Scott. He goes on to say that whether they are working with their biggest client or their smallest, the team never loses the urgency toward each client’s program.
Scott Tinkelman is the first to admit that Kevins is “not the greatest at marketing their own business”. Their reputation of excellence certainly is spread throughout the industry but they know that it takes much more than word of mouth. Kevins attends approximately 10 trade shows every year to get their name out. These are high-traffic shows such as food expos and builder shows.
Kevins’ growth has been outstanding, driving the owners’ continuing excitement and “passion for the business.” Scott points out that their solutions help launch programs, build brand, provide concepts and solutions which allow clients more time to focus on their businesses. Kevins has the infrastructure to provide clients concepts, decorating, finishing, IT and logistics. With nearly 100 employees, Scott describes the staff as phenomenal. “It took a while to build our team, but we have developed and grown all with the same mission of helping clients.”
Scott spoke of the partnership with Universal Unilink saying, “Universal Unilink is a phenomenal partner that is a compliment to Kevins Worldwide.” Scott appreciates and values the time that Universal Unilink devotes to vetting suppliers and negotiating programs adds a comfort level to Kevins buying decisions, providing additional sourcing support as needed, and saving time.
When asked what advice he would give to new promotional products companies he replied, “Be patient…things never move as quickly as you expect and be prepared for trial and error.”
Congratulations to Kevin’s Worldwide for their growth built on delivering exceptional service to their clients.