It’s a repeat: SanMar (PPAI 110788, Platinum) is once again ranked the No. 1 supplier in the PPAI 100.

Although it’s privately held and keeps its books closed, the Issaquah, Washington-based firm is widely known as the largest company in the promo industry. PPAI Research estimates it brought in $3.9 billion in sales last year and has grown its annual revenue by 46% in just the last three years.

According to Jeremy Lott, president and CEO of SanMar, the company achieved a record year in 2023 with its largest total sales to date. “2023 was a mixed environment with some segments of our business doing quite well while others were down,” Lott says. “We’re pleased that we were able to show modest grow and take market share during this slower time.”

Technical Prowess

Of the 100 suppliers in the 2024 PPAI 100, SanMar earns high marks – scores among the best of the best, in other words – for revenue and growth, but also for its online presence, responsibility and employee happiness.

It’s no surprise that SanMar – a perennial PPAI Pyramid Award recipient – is again being recognized for its online presence considering that the company was an early adopter of technology and on the cutting edge of practices that eventually became standard throughout the industry.

  • In fact, SanMar was one of the first suppliers to track inventory with computers.

Lott says that SanMar’s website remains the primary way the company interacts with customers.

“We take more orders on our website than through any other method,” he says. “Our customers interact with us daily to find product, check inventory or pricing or learn more about a decoration technique or a technical product. This continues to be an area of significant investment and we’re excited about the initiatives were working on.”

Making The World A Better Place

SanMar has likewise been at the forefront of the promo industry’s sustainability revolution and other forms of corporate social responsibility at home and throughout its supply chain.

The company has vowed to reduce not only its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% per pound of product by 2030, but also its Scope 3 emissions from purchased goods and services by 50% by the same deadline. 

“We realized early on that once a shirt gets a logo, it stops being a SanMar shirt and represents the organization that bought the product,” Lott says. “Therefore, we had a responsibility to that organization to ensure their product was made in a sustainable and socially responsible way.”

Among its CSR efforts, SanMar has teamed with Brandability to create an internship program associated with the supplier’s factory in Tanzania for people who desperately need opportunities in order to improve their circumstances.

“We’ve evolved to believe that isn’t enough – it’s not enough to not do bad things,” Lott says. “We must do good things for the people and communities where our product is made. It’s why we call our shirts ‘A Canvas for Good’ and why our purpose as an organization is ‘Together, for Good.’”

Be Nice And Tell The Truth

Since Lott’s father Marty launched the company in 1971, SanMar’s culture has been built upon two commandments: be nice and tell the truth.

  • That ethos is just one reason why the firm was recently named a U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte and The Wall Street Journal for the second straight year.

“At the end of the day, we’re a people company,” Lott says.

“While I’d love to tell you why my blue polo is better than someone else’s blue polo, there are lots of blue polos to choose from. We’ve grown by having people committed to taking care of our customers and it’s my job to take care of our people. Happy, engaged and committed employees are critical to our success and we work hard to create that environment.”