“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” That phrase has been closely associated with the legendary Green Bay Packer football coach, and often very widely quoted. He supposedly used it as early as 1959 in his opening talk of training camp for the team. Here in Wisconsin, publicly stating that the coach was anything less than perfect is tantamount to heresy and I’ll probably be tarred and feathered sometime next week. Bring it.
My point is contextual in nature though. Recently the company that I lead, Visual Impressions, was named a finalist in the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year awards. There were thirty four companies that made it to the final list and in our category (Small 1 – 99 employees) there were a total of nine companies named. The black-tie award dinner was fantastic, with Governor Scott Walker giving the keynote address. It was the Academy Awards of companies that make stuff.
At the awards, right before they announced the winner in our division I reflected on all the great people that give tremendous effort daily at Visual Impressions. Our talented and creative staff accomplishes more than just screen-printing or embroidering apparel all day. They provide for their families. As our customers aren’t just local, every order we ship drives the economic engine for this country. Shirts that we have decorated are everywhere in the nation, and some even get shipped abroad. You’ve seen them, you just don’t realize it. Some of the shirts we’ve printed even have a higher purpose, such as the ones we printed after the Boston Marathon tragedy that raised a tremendous amount of money for the One Fund Boston. (Read my blog article about that experience here – When Lightning Strikes)
That’s how I know Coach Lombardi was wrong. Winning truly isn’t everything. It was ok in my heart when Tailored Label Products won, and we watched them celebrate one table away. (Congratulations to them – they are awesome by the way!)
Sure it was extraordinary to have Visual Impressions be acknowledged as one of the best run companies in the state. That doesn’t hurt. However, I know how incredibly hard our staff works to make Visual Impressions the leader in our industry. It’s our daily journey that counts. Our dedication to quality and continuously improving our process has led us to the success and growth we’ve achieved.
It’s why we are a certified sustainable printer by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. Leading the decorated apparel industry in sustainability is part of our value proposition, and we leverage that fact every day when building our relationships with clients.
It’s why we participated in the very first ScaleUp Milwaukee program which was dedicated in developing the local Entrepreneur Ecosystem. Getting out of our comfort zone and learning something new will pay off large dividends in the future.
It’s why we love participating in local non-profit fundraising events and activities. Giving back matters. It’s not all about you.
It’s why our customers turn to us in the first place. There are tons of companies that can print a t-shirt or embroider a polo shirt. Our customers know and appreciate the level of service and dedication to quality that we provide every day. They constantly turn to us to help resolve some challenging order, or impossible request. Hitting homeruns for them is a great feeling.
Well, I guess that’s enough chest thumping for now. Whew. I feel better too. All the tuxedos and pretty dresses have been put away, and everyone is back to work. We didn’t get to snake through the crowd, high-fiving everyone on the way. I would have loved to hear owner Jay Berman’s speech thanking our staff, customers, vendors and friends. I’m sure it was a good one. We’re still the same company. We’re still going to be giving 110% every day for our customers, striving to improve and learn something new. Maybe next year our name will be called. Until then…