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President and CEO AmeriPride Services Inc.
FR and safety apparel will continue to be a strong area of growth.
Bill Evans, President and Chief Operating Officer of AmeriPride Services Inc., talks about how workwear industry is becoming more specialized in serving specific vertical markets and the benefits of sourcing from vendor partners, in an exclusive interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ilin Mathew.
Headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, AmeriPride Services Inc. is recognized as one of the largest uniform and linen supply companies in North America. The key industries served by the company include Industrial (Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Auto), Food and Beverage (Restaurants and Bars), Healthcare (Clinics) and many others.
Prior to his elevation as President and CEO, Evans served as Chief Operating Officer with AmeriPride. He had earlier served for 24+ years with Pepsi Cola Company operating entities in various capacities.
What are the benefits in sourcing textile and garment products from vendor partners rather than manufacturing it?
We actually do both. This allows us the benefit of learning about new products or innovations in our market. The key advantage to sourcing from vendor partners is having the best product available and no (or very little) inventory liability.
Work wear uniforms, including flame resistant (FR) apparel, are normally not produced in mass quantities as other apparel. How does this affect the price and other factors?
This is not entirely correct. In fact, the production process is the same as followed for standard goods sold in the retail market.
How has the American uniform or work wear industry changed in the past decade or so?
The industry is becoming more specialized-- servicing specific vertical markets, such as industrial, manufacturing, oil and gas, automotive, food and beverage, and many others. As a company, we need to have a very good understanding of customer needs, specific to their markets.
Are there any specific trends for uniforms in the US and Canada that you are excited about?
These days, the standard uniform is no longer navy shirts and navy pants. Consumer-facing businesses want their employees wearing uniforms that tell a unique brand story. Uniforms have to be consistent with their brand and the image they would like to portray to their own existing and prospective customers. Our company offers uniforms from casual to formal and everything in between, and in a variety of colors and styles, to fit our customers’ needs.
In addition, new government regulations are creating a new demand for FR apparel. This trend is a key area of growth for our company. In addition to providing the apparel, we also know how to clean the garments so they retain their FR qualities.
How is the market for uniforms faring in the US? What are the main factors driving the industry?
Employment in manufacturing and industrial business is a key driver. As manufacturing continues to grow, so will our business. A lot hinges on what happens with the economy, but we were able to weather the recession by finding operational efficiencies and economies of scope and scale in our supply chain.
Even as the economy recovers, customers are looking for quality product at a value price with great service. That never changes. We feel that if we have superior quality and service, our customers will pay for it.
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