It’s crunch time for 2007 team kit – the lucky teams have their rosters decided and sponsor deals done. The really organized ones have already designed and ordered their new kit for next year. And with kit manufacturers the world- over running at capacity to make it and ship it before the season starts… we were lucky to get time to talk to Chris Jackson – the grand-poobah at Custom Sublimation.
Custom Sublimation is a part of the Mt.Borah cycling apparel company – the part that specializes in custom kit.
They Make Custom Kit…!
Customsublimation.com is a division of Mt. Borah, LLC, makers of cycling apparel since the fall of 1995. In the spring of 2002, Mt. Borah established Customsublimation.com, the division was set-up to fulfill a need for custom team apparel requests from bicycle stores and cycling teams.
Customsublimation.com was one of the first US businesses to use digital printing technology for dye-sublimation inks, allowing for turn around times of 7-weeks or less (vs 12+ weeks from other makers) and the lowest minimums (6-garments) in the industry. Plus they stepped up to offer unlimited colors at no extra charge and a no minimum reorder policy, which other manufacturers charge hundreds of dollars for.
Not your average sweatshop: the Mt. Borah employees like their jobs and it shows in the finished product.
The Secret of Success
Some impressive claims from an industry more noted for tortoise-like turn-around times, I asked Chris to back it up with an explanation…
Chris: We’re a completely vertical manufacturer, from initial design to shipment of the finished product, it’s all crafted under our strict quality control policies, right here in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. This is especially important in a fast paced, time sensitive custom environment. In four years of manufacturing custom team apparel, we can honestly say that we’ve never missed an event deadline, in fact, we’ve even bailed out other companies who have overbooked their production and have notified the customers that their kits would not ship by the due date.
Every customer signs off an a printed version of their artwork before the order is made.
Pez: Not bad, so you have everything under one roof – but that still leaves a lot of steps where things can get bogged down –
Chris: In 2006 we implemented cutting edge ERP database software which effectively walks an order through our facility from start to finish. Our system includes several “checkpoints” along the way, to avoid delays that are typical in the kit making process. For example, we send a miniature “color swatch” before going into production, this is a shrunken down version of the final product and acts as the final proof before production begins. Once we receive a client’s final “color swatch” approval and their teams sizes, we can produce the order within 4-weeks. We can even rush an order for a 25% surcharge, rush orders have been produced in under 2 weeks! So clients get a smooth, hassle free ordering experience without any surprises.
Art director Jeron Moe works with each design, making sure customers’ ideas look right on the kit.
Pez: One thing I’ve seen many times in the bike industry is how better product comes from happy employees. So how about a little non-management insight – what’s it like working at Mt. Borah?
Jeron Moe, Mt. Borah’s art director told us:
“The atmosphere is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about why I enjoy working at Borah. An atmosphere that embraces creativity, that is laid-back and comfortable, while still being fast-paced and productive. An atmosphere where upper management not only allows me to, but encourages me to ride my bike through the beautiful, scenic bluffs during the work day. An atmosphere that keeps me up to date with the latest technology, newest software, and progressive seminars. An atmosphere where team work is key, and hard work is noticed. An atmosphere that allows me to enjoy coming to work every day, and provides me with a continually exciting future.”
Working with clay was part of a recent team building exercise – something all too rare in the bike industry.
Okay, But How’s The Quality?
Chris: All of our products are constructed from high quality, technical fabrics. We offer a complete product line, providing all of the necessary items for complete team kits, from jerseys to thermal jackets. We also offer several upgrades, using the latest in European fabric technology. Our latest fabric, Swiss-Tech, is a super fine lycra polyester which has superior wicking and air flow characteristics. For jersey upgrades, we have a Micro-Grid fabric which utilizes a grid pattern, the pattern creates a unique look and feel and easily enables air to pass through the fabric, keeping the athlete cool and dry.
Nick Waite of Team Kelly Benefits riding in his Custom Sublimation kit.
Good Enough For My Team
Nobody trashes gear like sponsored athletes, so a good testimonial is a look at the teams who ride your kit. Customsublimation.com has worked with several professional cycling and cross-country ski teams, both national and international. Look for their kit in 2007 on the backs of Team Kelly Benefits, Team Tough Girls, Team Endeavor and America’s Dairyland Team, plus several elite level teams throughout the US and Canada. And if that’s not enough, the company website lists over 8 pages of satisfied customer testimonials – not too shabby.
Everything is sewn in house by skilled pros like Darcy.
What’s All This Gonna Cost Me
“We’re not the cheapest on the block, customers are willing to pay a bit more for a fast turn around time and guaranteed delivery, we have never missed an event deadline.” Say Chris. Customers can expect to pay anywhere from $82.50 per item for 6-12 jerseys down to $60.00 each for 75 or more units. They also offer a 10% pro-purchase discount for teams who use a “sponsorship template”.
Mt. Borah products are also distributed through Quality Bicycle Products or QBP, one of the world’s largest wholesale bicycle distributorships.
• More information can be found at www.CustomSublimation.com
or call ‘em at 800-354-2825.