This week, Ellen Tucker, PPAI’s director of business development, and Jeff Rogers, account manager, have been on the road, visiting member companies in Washington state. On their journey, they met with Carolyn Colwell, president of supplier Your City Sports (PPAI 726679, S1) in Lynden, Washington, and Daniel Roso, vice president of sales and marketing at Gig Habor supplier TravelChair, to learn more about their companies and their outlooks on the industry.

Speaking to Tucker and Rogers, Colwell (above, with Rogers) shared what motivated her to found Your City Sports, which she started in 2013. She says, “I had taken a leave of absence from my job as a high school counselor and volunteered at a homeless event. Everyone came in looking for socks but we had none to give. My three sons had collected drawers full of brightly colored, athletic crew socks, and I thought, with socks appealing to so many, how we do we get them to the homeless? That’s how the buy-one, get-one program started. For every item we sell at Your City Sports, whether it’s a beanie, a pair of socks or a scarf, we donate a pair of socks to the community of the end buyer. We buy overruns from our factories, mainly white, good-quality crew socks, as donation shocks and ship them to the community, where they usually go to homeless shelters.”

Their conversation with Roso (above, with Rogers) at the TravelChair offices turned more towards the philosophies behind the company’s products. He and his wife bought the company from her parents. Roso says, “Fundamentally, we build a better mousetrap. It’s not rocket science, specifically, it’s an intent. We’re intentional about the rivets we use, the size of the holes the rivets go into and the specifications of the steel and the fabric. And we marry that with a quality control approach to how we manufacture it, who inspects it, the employees on the ground, and we put that all together. In a nutshell, we want to build something that’s going to last and that we’re proud of.”

He adds, “For us, it’s never been about the product but what the product accomplishes. For me and my wife, our best experiences are found outside. When we were younger, that was camping. In my 20s, it was hiking. Now, we go outside on a whole different level—its parks, its picnics, its team sports. We believe that’s where the good stuff is. Our product is a vehicle to that. We want that experience. We want our product to emulate that kind value, and so TLC is one of the things we put into the product.”