Pilot Ball Caps

Pilot Ball Caps
Pilot Ball Caps .com

Pilot Ball Caps .com

Monday, September 25, 2017

Take off your damn hat and show some respect!

With all of the fuss about the recent politicization of the NFL and out National Anthem, I'd like to remind the fans to either remain silent or sing the Anthem, stand if you're able, and take off your damn hat!  People in the stands talking, taking selfies and any number of things Other than paying attention to our Anthem is FAR more disrespectful than players silently protesting injustice in our Nation.

Rant complete!  It's simple.

(yes,  you should even remove your aviator ball cap if you got it from me, regardless if it is your Military rating and no matter what your hair looks like when you take it off!)

I'm as patriotic (or more so) than the next guy, but we are collectively getting lost in all of the noise and distraction.   There are far more serious things to discuss...so let's do that!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Detroit Aviation and Airlines Collectibles Show 2017

It's that time of year again...the Detroit Aviation and Airline Collectibles Show - 2017 is May 20th at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, MI!

Connie and I will be there to hang out with our fellow enthusiasts and perhaps sell some our Pilot Ball Caps as well.  We intend to have some of our best-selling Aviation ball caps from pilotballcaps.com.  We'll include all of our Airline ball caps, Military Pilot ball caps and most of our Aviator and Aircrew hats.  

Also with us will be Bobby D and Tracy from crewdawgcreations.com and they will have select items for the aviation collectors.  I am a long-time customer and friend of Bobby's, and have many of his amazing products!

So... look for our tables there and stop by to say hello. If you're a previous custom please let me know that.  I know most of you by name but very few in person.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Detroit Aviation and Airline Collectible show

It's been awhile since I've blogged, but yes...we're still kicking. Over eight years at it, and 50+ designs...so we have been very busy.

Last week we did our first show, with mixed results.  The weather was lousy and the show was in the Willow Run hangar, but it was warm inside and they estimate there were around 1000+ people who braved the cold and snow.

We had most of our designs out there and made a few bucks, but most important was getting out in the public and giving a face to the website.  Connie and I had a great time meeting fellow aviators and enthusiasts.  Overall it was a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

We hope to see some of you there next year, and we may be making an appearance at the show in Cleveland this fall.

Like always...tell your friends about us and our website pilotballcaps.com.  And fly safe!

Spud and Connie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

the impact on a customer.

I'm still surprised at what a big impact a small thing can have on a person's life.  Relating just to our simple little ball cap business, I see it much more often than I would expect. I wonder how many other online retailers get personal emails from their customers...thanking them, or telling their stories, or sharing the impact of just one small purchase.

What brought this home recently, was the return of a ball cap order. A customer bought an American Captain's ball cap for his 82 year old father.  It was just before Christmas, and he got the address wrong....it wasn't going to get there for the Holidays.  He emailed me, and I simply boxed up another and sent it to the corrected address.  I didn't charge him, and just said "it'll probably come back to me."  Well, three months later it was returned. I was a bit amused that it finally made its way home, so I emailed the customer to let him know and to ask about how his Dad liked the hat.  He said that it was the best gift he could have given him, and that his Dad wore it "all the time".  Then he added the "Dad was even wearing it when he died, two weeks ago!"

That just floored me.  Knowing something so small that I did (which was just routine business) would have such an impact.  I emailed him back sending my condolences, and reminded him how lucky he was to have had his father for as long as he did, telling him how I lost my Dad when I was 28. 

His Dad was a retired pilot, and even in the last few months of his life he held on to that pride, and maybe even re-lived a few of the good-old-days. 

So we don't have a bottom line.  We don't worry about our profits, even though year-over-year profits have consistently grown (by 40% again last year).  We haven't raised our prices or cut corners.  We just do the right thing, every sale, and every time. So our largest profit margin is achieved by those emails and occasional phone calls, with a story, a thank you or just a silly "pilot joke".  Thanks to all of our friends and customers who make it worth while!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Six years....already?

You know I don't post much.  Only when I have something that strikes me, moves me, or humors me enough to put fingers to keyboard do I bother to bore others. But this month marked six years of watching an idea turn into a hobby, and then turn into a small business.

Six years ago I wanted a simple ball cap.  I've always worn them when I fly, and we had just announced a merger between my company (Northwest Airlines) and Delta Air Lines.  New rules... new procedures... new uniforms. Being naturally nostalgic, I wanted a visible reminder that I was a Northwest pilot.  I searched the web for anyone who produced such a thing.  They didn't exist.  Anywhere!

A new solution was to have one custom made for me.  At that time I believe it would cost me about $35 for one hat! So like any good (cheap) pilot, I decided to spend $400 and have a bunch made. Now the only question was how to get rid of them.  Word of mouth and eBay worked for awhile, but I wanted a website. So with some help from Will Henderson and others, pilotballcaps.com was born. But you can't just have a website for ONE product. I really liked the hats that our manufacturer made, so I had Air Force and Navy pilot ball caps made. So now I had 5 designs, with more great comments from customers coming in weekly.

Now as I sit in our pilotballcaps.com office, I look around at the 40+ designs, most in different colors. Six years ago it was just for pilots, but now we have Aircrew, Navigator, Squadron and Airline hats. I'm surrounded by over 1500 hats sitting on the shelves, 100s of shipping boxes and everything we need to serve our customers. Most important are the hundreds of great aviation stories I get from my customers, and thousands of satisfied aviators around the world that are wearing our hats...that just kind of happened into being.

So Happy Anniversary to our fledgling business, and thank you to all of our (very) loyal repeat customers! We'll keep on "Selling the Best ball caps to the Best Aviators in the World...because everybody deserves a great ball cap!"
And this hat started it all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Military Family

Mom, Dad...what did you do when you were in the Air Force (Army, Navy, Marine Corps...)? What did you learn and what were your responsibilities? I was thinking about these questions as my wife Connie and I recently visited the BX and Commissary at Selfridge AFB not too long ago. If you were raised in a military family, or raised your family while you were in the service, there were certain expectations.  A discipline, instilled by commanders and peers alike, and filtered down to the kids.  Rules and respect were the norm. Sacrifice was just how it was.  Your choices were limited and endless at the same time.  There was one movie theater, but it could be in Europe, Asia, or Minot ND.  Friends changed with assignments, but there was that common thread that you shared.  Just like the servicemembers, the family had bonds with everyone in their situation. Rules.... responsibilities....discipline and caring for each other.

What did you do?... Well, I was a Pilot (Crew Chief, MP, Ranger....) and my responsibilities were X,Y and don't forget Z. You could get all of that from your last OER, OPR or Fitrep (insert any appropriate DoD Form number).  But that never tells the story, just the summary.  You were responsible for your job, and that of your squadron mates.  To cover them as they did for you.  And that extended to the family.  When Lt. Smith was deployed, Capt. Jones and SSgt. Johnson and their families checked in. Made sure lawns got mowed, carpools ran and babysitters were on time.  We cared for our own, and that always included the family.

What I learned as we walked around the Base Exchange was the difference in the families shopping. Broadly the same demographics as my own home town, they were...different.  Courteous, for the most part. The kids may have been thinking about throwing a fit, but it was always under control.  The parents didn't need to either yell or coddle.  A simple look, a quick and understandable explanation and it was over.  The kids weren't bugging for that candy or toy, as they seemed to know it wasn't in the budget.  If it were, they knew they would have it.  If they needed it, they got it.  And appreciated it.  Great lessons for all of us.

One of the many things that struck me was our walk to the car.  In the whole parking lot, there was ONE shopping cart.  You just didn't leave them for someone else to deal with. You (or your 10 year old) took it back and put it where it belonged...for the next family to use.  No trash in the lot, or in the carts.  There were rules, responsibilities and discipline.  And that's what I learned from my time in the service.

By Spud at pilotballcaps.com

Saturday, March 1, 2014

what my Pilot Ball Cap customers do for me...

It's been awhile since I've rambled on. We've had a lot going on, and still do but I was just thinking about what my customers do for me and thought I'd share it.

Since this business is more of a hobby, it allows me to be in touch with aviators from all backgrounds and experiences.  My guy Georgio, who flies ultralights in Italy (yes, I have pictures on our site).  Nails, who saved a Marine Corp unit under fire by VC...just he and his crew, his helo and flachette rockets (thus the call sign "Nails"). Stories about flying DC-6s and 707s back in the days when airline careers were legendary. A ball cap sent to someone's Dad who flew Lancasters for the RCAF and another to a Grandfather who flew Jugs and Mustangs for the Air Corps in WWII.  It's amazing who you get to know just from selling a few ball caps. George and Ike, both 'old fighter pilots', who have now passed on to fly west. I just wish I could hook up my Chaplain friend with their families! As he would say "Blessings from Father Jeff", but I still like to call him Padre! We have an ongoing list of folks who "checked in" with their call signs on our home page. Which reminds me that I've got to update that list again.

Back to the point of the story though.  Many of my customers become acquaintances, and some even become friends.  It usually starts with a note from me, thanking them for their order and maybe commenting on something I notice about their order or home town. The feedback I get for such simple observations is amazing, and our conversations begin. Since we're always looking to pass the word, I usually ask this of my customers, and sometimes they overwhelm me. Like Roger from Dallas who is a retired Delta pilot. He liked my hats and service enough to recommend our site to his group. The next day we sold out of Delta Captain ball caps and had to re-order.

We don't just get recommendations and great stories.  I've got standing invitations to visit from around the country, Germany, Canada and Australia. If I only had the time to get to those places (and NOT while having to work flying there and back).  Just this week I got the book "Steel Beach" signed by its author Jeff, who is a cancer survivor like my wife Connie. This gift was what brought me to write today! I've gotten USAF bag tags, patches from different units and even from the Gathering of Mustangs.  Hats, pictures, articles... these folks I call customers are just too much. Too kind.  I think it's just the common ground we all share. We've all been there, or know someone who has. Whether it's flying, or work, or just surviving your worst fear. I guess that's why I still do it. My wife says I enjoy it too much. She encourages me, supports and loves me...and understands when I take an hour (or two) out of my day just to communicate with folks I may never meet.

I wish to thank my wife Connie, who tolerates all of this, and really helps keep things moving in the right direction. And I thank you, my customers and friends. You make this business not only possible, but worthwhile.

Find us at pilotballcaps.com