Pilot Ball Caps

Pilot Ball Caps
Pilot Ball Caps .com

Pilot Ball Caps .com

Friday, January 12, 2018

Where do we go from here?

     As we open the door to 2018, we have a tendency to ask "Where do we go from here?"  Whether it's a resolution or a promise to "do it different this year" or a new business plan... a new year is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, of just fool ourselves into thinking something will change.

     I recently had a discussion with a colleague about our goals for pilotballcaps.com.  He was talking explosive growth, advertising campaigns and hiring out the very things that make us unique.  I took it all in and seem to have come to a decision... just do more of the same.  Keep being what we are.  

     Every year we change a little, or a lot.  Give up something bad for something better.  Work a little harder, or a little less.  Worry more about the right things, less about the mundane.  The same in life as in business.  So this year is our opportunity to do more of the same.  More focus on the people who have supported us, and the same level of contact with every customer.  Listen.  Not enough of us do that.  Just listen.  

    We began the year by just listening.  We listened to the previous letters, phone calls and emails from our customers.  New designs are influenced directly by our clients.  Shipping built into the price.  (which I disagree with, but time will tell).  Nine years ago we stated with 5 designs and this year we've already added 2 new designs to our current inventory of 64 designs.  All orders include "free shipping".  Everyone still gets the email, with a reminder to tell your friends and leave us a review.  I wonder how many of those actually get read.  Few get responded to and a few leave reviews.  Those reviews tell us that we're doing well by the customers.  But I can't help but think that the lack of some reviews may mean something different.  Maybe I shouldn't be concerned with this, but I am.  After all, we average close to 40% year over year sales growth... every year since we started.

     So going forward we will just do the same things. A simple plan, just do what we do.  Make people happy and give many people a path to their memories and accomplishments.  Maybe add some more exposure, more videos about who we are and what we do.  And just keep moving forward!

     Thanks to all of our loyal customers, and check out our video about our mission!

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!