BOD members got a chance to visit Barbados to learn more about Gildan’s operations and culture, as well as its commitment to its community.
It’s not often that one of your suppliers offers to visit their installations for the purpose of pulling back the curtain on their operating procedures and how they do business. But this is exactly what Gildan did recently as they invited their Board of Decorators to Barbados, to visit Gildan’s sales, marketing and distribution headquarters in the country.
The BOD members, who represent several types of apparel decorating businesses of all sizes, met with the company’s various departments, including Sales, Marketing, E-Commerce and Transportation & Logistics. They even got a sneak peek at products to be released in 2020 and 2021 and had an opportunity to offer their feedback and ideas.
What these visitors learned was that this global manufacturer has a high degree of corporate responsibility and strives to not only give back to the community, but also to make its culture one of collaboration and support.
“Whenever we visit Gildan's facilities, it's apparent that they really work with the communities to provide opportunities and jobs, in addition to giving back to the area in the way of scholarships, events, and support,” says Mitch Heiman, president, Perrin Resort and Collegiate Apparel, Grand Rapids, Mich.
“We got to see how their decision-making process happens,” says Adam Smith, Co-Owner, Luckyprints, Chicago. “When you consider this is one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the industry, getting that level of insight was pretty awesome and definitely a unique experience.”
“It was easy to see that they are really making sure they're investing in all of their processes, and they are state-of-the art in that respect,” agrees Heiman.
Also impressive to the Board were the employees themselves and the degree of diversity and inclusion among them.
“As we were going on the tour meeting people, I thought to myself how terrific that there are 300-plus people who work here, with 90% of the workforce from Barbados,” notes Anthony Corsano, president and COO of Bolt Printing & Embroidery, Brookfield, Conn.
“I liked the diversity,” adds Corsano. “I learned that the Barbados people are incredibly well educated, articulate, and that their literacy rate is 98%. So here on in Barbados, Gildan found a qualified workforce. And, they’re so friendly.”
It was clear to board members after this trip that Gildan cares about people.
“They focus a lot on not only their economic impact and on competing in a massive industry, but also on how they interact with the local environments that they have set up shop in,” says Smith. “It was awesome to see the amount of local people they employ, and the initiatives to make an impact in the local community. They are trying to create value on the back end, and that’s something no one sees from a business or decorator perspective.”
Smith also shared some of his observations on the company culture. “I noticed how they take a collaborative approach to everything,” he says. “Obviously, a big indicator is the fact that they put together a group like us to start conversations across every spectrum of the industry.”
Another highlight of the trip was a review of present and future products by Board members. “There was a lot of discussion surrounding a new T-shirt and its benefits to decorators and consumers,” says Heiman. “This was of the products we were all given to do some testing with.”
“We spent a lot of time on product,” agrees Corsano. “And in addition to providing feedback on our own testing, we spoke about merchandise being planned for 2021.”
“We also discussed what products were not readily available in the marketplace that might be a strategic addition in the future,” adds Heiman.
Without exception, these decorators agreed that the trip was an experience of a lifetime where they all gained valuable knowledge and insights into not only Gildan, but their own businesses as well.
“I always walk away from these visits with a renewed appreciation for Gildan's commitment to corporate social responsibility,” says Perrin. “The impact they have as a global company in the jobs they create are not only directly tied to their business, but to a countless number of jobs created in the related industries that use their products in the United States and abroad. This always amazes me.”
“It was incredibly insightful,” agrees Smith. “The team at Gildan is remarkably down to earth and seeing the morale of everyone when they were in the same room together was uplifting.
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