By Fabian Sandler
Most of us like a freebie. We line up at the department store’s makeup kiosk to accept a small package of whatever they are handing out. We may not even know what it is. We like being given a baseball cap at work with our company logo on it, or better yet, an actual shirt. We wear it with pride.
Fully Promoted makes those giveaways possible. Locally owned and operated by Jim and JoAnn Wheat, Fully Promoted is ready to Fully Promote your company name or provide T-shirts for the family reunion.
The franchise started out as EmbroidMe, but is now Fully Promoted. The business is part of the United Franchise Group, one of the largest franchising organizations in the world. The name EmbroidMe has been around for about seventeen years, becoming Fully Promoted in January of this year.
JoAnn is a native Houstonian, growing up in Crosby, Texas, and raised her children in Humble. “We moved out of Houston in 1998 to pursue other business interest,” she explains. “We came back here two years ago and decided to buy a business locally, and settle in to the community that we love! I love this industry because I cut my teeth in it from my years at Pennzoil. I was an executive assistant and I headed up a team of about ten people that did all of the meetings, conventions, training seminars, and worked on the NASCAR race team, along with the marketing department. I purchased all of these promotional items for the trade shows and conventions. So, I did a lot of the buying of the embroidery, apparel and the promotional products for Pennzoil.”
JoAnn continues, “The cool thing about this business is that there’s not a company that doesn’t need branded apparel, hats and promotional products. Everyone uses it to promote their brand.”
“What JoAnn brings to the table, because of her experience, is that she understands a lot of things about it,” Jim explains. “For example, if the product doesn’t show up on time, that’s a problem, if it’s screwed up when it arrives, that’s a problem! So, quality is a serious thing to her. She will not let anything out of this store if it’s not right! She will put it away and will redo an order before a customer even knows it, if she isn’t satisfied with it. Nothing goes out without her personally saying, ‘It’s a done deal.’ I think that’s because she was on the other side, when you get that surprise, when you’re looking at the executive vice president with a shirt that doesn’t look good, that’s a problem – and she understands that. She has a great sensitivity to that side of the business but she also has the same sensitivity for individuals that walk in and may be planning for families that are doing group reunions, vacations, etc. There’s a personal side to this business, because to every customer IT IS personal to every individual whether it’s t-shirts for a family reunion, a big party they’re trying to throw, a sporting team or a corporate event – either way, it’s personal and JoAnn takes that very seriously.”
Jim warns that while a customer may think that they are getting “heck of a deal” through a website, they need to be cautious and confident of the quality of the product that they are going to be receiving and understand that personal service and quality always comes at a price!
With Fully Promoted catering to local businesses and families, maintaining their excellent reputation by providing quality product and personal customer service is paramount, and that cannot be garnered through a distant, online only ordering service.
“Quality and On Time,” JoAnn summarizes. “When I was an event planner arriving at my hotel, let’s say in Las Vegas, for a convention, the first question I would ask upon arrival would be, ‘Where’s my shipments?’ So, you go in and start inventorying, hoping that everything showed up. The moment you realize you don’t have your two thousand lanyards or totes – it sets off a panic! To this day, I recall that fear and understand the criticality of my client’s products and apparel showing up perfect and on time! When you have the professionals like us providing that service, you can rest assured that everything has arrived. If you order online, you end up dialing an (800) number and hope that you get someone to answer your call. “It’s not going to be that personal touch.”
As far as special requests such as U.S. only made products or environmentally certified products, Fully Promoted can accommodate a lot of those requests as well.
Jim’s background is in the automotive industry. Formerly serving as president of Jiffy Lube International and group vice president of the Pennzoil Company, operating partner of one of the largest franchise groups of Valvoline Instant Oil Change in the Midwest to name a few, giving him a solid business background and expertise.
“I like the business because it’s creative,” Jim espouses. “My marketing side comes into play. I like helping other business people. It’s a fun business, helping other people maximize their brand. That brand is so critical. The moment you’re born, what do you get? You get a slap and a name, and your name is your brand. And that’s it,” he quips. “It’s what you are. You’re only as good as your brand. If it’s Chevrolet, they’re big. But if it’s Joe’s Sandwich Shop, that name is just as important to Joe as Chevrolet is to General Motors. We gotta give them that kind of attention because it’s personal to them.”
Bryce Stewart is the store manager. Bryce, who grew up and lives in Kingwood, graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor’s Degree in theatrical design. After graduation, I came back home to begin pursuing my dream of working in major theatre some day! “Jim called me and asked if I would like to join them as I continued my search, and I am glad I did because it has been fun and very rewarding thus far. Also, giving the opportunity to continue using my creating side while developing my interpersonal skills serving customers.
Bryce started on April 18, one day after the store opened. “I like it a lot so far,” he admits. “It’s certainly different from what I’m used to and “It’s definitely fun. I get to talk to people all day, so I get to use the people skills that I developed in my theatrical courses and I get to connect them with what they want to be doing and help them grow their business.”
As the store manager, Bryce deals with inside sales, helping the walk-in customers, takes their orders, coordinates with vendors, receives product in and divvies out to where it needs to go in order to get produced to the customers’ specifications. He keeps production on track on a nightly basis, and runs the minor decorations that they do in-house, such as heat pressing and garment printing.
“He’s a good kid,” Jim says. “This is a good experience for him. He comes with that theatrical training and his business is about theatre, it’s about taking a brand and turning it into something that excites other people besides those who work for the brand.”
Sonia Cabello started with the previous owner, in February, 2016. Sonia is an embroidery technician, having honed her craft after twenty years’ experience. She took graphic design classes in her native Venezuela and has a wealth of experience, running the complex embroidery machine within the store.
The store is well laid out, with racks filled with garments and promotional products by type and broken down by different brands. Dress shirts, golf shirts, athletic styles and even caps are on display, as are backpacks and duffel bags. A couple of glass cases display other paraphernalia that include pens, coffee mugs, water bottles and other personalized giveaways.
“We supply and decorate team apparel for sports and athletic teams,” JoAnn chimes in. “We do screen printing, garment printing and heat pressing. We work with booster clubs, little league and T-Ball leagues. We’ve supplied golf and fishing tournaments as well as providing promotional products and garments for some of the largest companies in the state at their national conventions!
Fully Promoted carries name brands like Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Champion, New Era, Eddie Bauer and YETI. JoAnn states. “We are very excited about all of the new promotional products that are now available to our customers, Over a Million Items!” She continued, “Anything larger than a grain of rice, we can put your name on it.”
“We do print services for companies. Business cards, flyers,” Jim adds. “We’ve had orders for 20,000 sheets, and we’ve had orders for 50 flyers.
Fully Promoted of Humble is located at 4451 FM 1960 East, Suite A, in Atascocita. Store hours are 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, and Saturdays by appointment. The phone number is 281-812-2656. The website is www.fullypromoted.com/humble-tx. The special for December is 10% off of any order over $300.
The Thursday night bowling team will look pretty good in those new, colorful custom shirts and may even bowl better!