With all the crazy the past couple of years wrought on our industry, I've found myself saying to trusted clients more than once, "We're only as good as your suppliers on their worst day." It's true. We can come up with the most fun, functional, exciting ideas... but if our suppliers on the back end can't bring them to life, meet your timelines, meet your budget, etc. we're stuck.
So, it's a BIG part of our job to sift and sort through the multitude of suppliers and manufacturers out there to make things happen. Yes, the field is more narrow since we play by the rules and aim to provide only the best in USA and Union Made (when we can get them) products... but even then, there's misrepresentation to weed through, shops with stellar sales reps but not-so-great production management, places that throw us awesome samples and virtuals but miss the mark with Quality Control on the final order... the list goes on. And at the end of the day, it's OUR responsibility to make it right for YOU.
This brings us to the story of how we met our friends at Pen Company of America.
The abridged version: We used a single company, which billed itself as "Union Made" for many, MANY years (we have been around since 1980, so feel free to do the math) to purchase pens - the sort folks use every day, not the fancier kind. Covid came along, and sometime during all that, I put through an order for two large (1,000+) batches of one of their flagship pens, basically the same thing but in two different colors.
The orange pens turned on their regularly expected production timeline... but the blue pens... didn't.
I called and asked what was causing the delay, obviously just wanting to provide some insight for my client and reassure them we were on the case.
Pen Shop Employee: Well, some of the parts are held up.
Me (Melissa, your loyal Swag Peddler): What do you mean?
PSE: We don't have them in house.
M: Ok... so you manufacture those parts off-site?
PSE: Yes. They're... sitting in a container, and the ports are all backed up.
M: I'm sorry... what?
Yep. This is when we learned that not only was this shop marketing items as 100% USA Made while importing little metal bits and pieces from China, but they were also printing a Union Bug on said items.
Well, because we're us, we made a point of contacting anybody who regularly ordered pens to inform them we'd need to change the pen styles they'd been ordering to date, as we'd not be using the old shop on principle... but we'd find a solution.
I'm thankful to say that this is when we had the good fortune to connect with the fine folks at Pen Company of America. PenCo (as we call them) is the ONLY 100% USA pen shop in the country (there used to be more... but, well, this is where we are now). These folks are the real deal, and they care deeply both about their craft as well as keeping their goods as honest as can be. Over the past year they also acquired our old stalwart Garland Pen, adding to the higher end of their line with beautiful metal ballpoint and fountain pens, mechanical pencils, gift sets, etc.
Rather than tell you all about them, Mike Rowe has already done the heavy lifting. Sit back and enjoy... and meet the faces behind one of our absolute FAVORITE suppliers. Pen Company of America!