Pilot Ball Caps

Pilot Ball Caps
Pilot Ball Caps .com

Pilot Ball Caps .com

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Gratitude for our Veterans and Friends

Just a few thoughts to express my gratitude for our friends and customers... this week I received two phone calls from recent customers thanking me for selling them a ball cap! It makes me realize how important our memories are. For us to provide that small link to past friends and relatives and their service or collective experience gives me great joy. For those of you who have shared your stories with Connie and I, tales of brothers and sisters-in-arms, of parents whose service must be remembered and carried with us...it's priceless to us.

We're getting fewer and fewer WWII and Korean War stories (but still some), but many more from Viet Nam. and more from Desert Storm, OIF, and Iraq and Afghan wars. Sometimes our paths have crossed by mutual friends or units we may have served in at different times, or how our ball caps have been recognized by others wearing them.

I've heard and read anecdotes from many of you about how you have helped your fellow veterans. And those stories are not isolated, you know who you are (even though you would be the last to recognize it), that one who checks in (Buddy Check) on fellow vets, visits or volunteers at the VA, takes in a homeless vet while they try and get back on their feet. The Honor Guards, Wreaths Across America, Veteran's Cemetery Challenge, Patriot Riders and too many others to name.

You know the depth of connection that many will never experience. For all of these gifts you have given us, we truly Thank You...for including us here at pilotballcaps.com into a small part of your lives! And Thank You for your Service!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Honoring our Veterans and building a business

Honoring our Veterans is what we're doing here.  At first it started about me.  I wanted MY wings.  I was proud of them, and wanted a reminder of my accomplishments.  The hats came out so well that I thought others would like them as much as I did.  And many agreed.

Next step...make pilotballcaps.com a reality...with no budget. No experience.  No knowledge of how to build a website, of market products, or using social media.  But learn I did... with many mistakes, I finally got a groove and realized my biggest strength was personal relationships.  I could relate to Veterans, we shared a common bond... and that was the easy part. That's why we try and connect with all of our customers, and many have really become friends.

What followed was a gradual expansion to include other aviation specialties, squadrons, airlines and aircraft.  Most were at the request of our customers..and many of those did very well.  Many did not and we still have the original order in stock.

Our commitment to Vets is why we have kept our prices what they were ten years ago.  It's also why we've sent hats to some Vets when they couldn't afford them, donated to different causes, and joined a variety of Vet's groups.  We just believe in it.  The time is coming when we have to raise prices.  Not because of a profit issue, but rather due to ever increasing shipping costs much of which we have incurred.

Thanks to our thousands of loyal customers and friends. To our Veterans...thank you for your service and sacrifice. And remember to tell your buddies about our little endeavor!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Whose Business is it anyways?

Whose Business is this? Maybe I'm confused but I thought it was mine!  But is it?  Yes and no.  I believe like most businesses, it belongs to the principals who keep it afloat.  That means shareholders, board members, sometimes its employees...and its customers.  For us, I think of our customers as our "board of directors".  They drive where we are going...they influence the new product lines...they ARE our marketing department.

I started this endeavor because I liked the product that I came up with.  You see that?  It was all about me in the beginning.  But that all changed when our customers became invested.  That's when our designs expanded.  New items are usually derived directly from our customer requests.  Most of the time they're right and we do well by listening.  Like any board of directors, or marketing department or advisers...sometimes they get it wrong.  Our biggest successes have been from input from our loyal customers and friends. Ideas that we didn't want, or just didn't consider.

As we stroll though our tenth year I am ever grateful for the loyalty, friendship and advise of our customers.  They are what drives the ship.  Connie and I try and keep in touch with many of them, but their numbers are in the thousands now, and we rely on technology to keep track of everyone.  Facebook helps, but mostly it's the repeat interaction that allows us to maintain that close connection.

You see, at pilotballcaps.com you're part of it... part of the design, marketing and consulting force.  For that Connie and I would like to thank you all for your trust and your help.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Civil discourse, PilotBallCaps and ramblings!

As we close the book on 2018 I resolve to write more, listen more and make my personal connections stronger. Looking back I realized, WOW, It's been awhile since I posted anything...  Seem like I have a lot to say, but not a lot to write.  These are my latest ramblings:

Civil discourse....agree to disagree, just like grown-up adults. Just because somebody says something you agree (or disagree) with does not make it factual... no matter who says it or what position they are in, find the truth.

Whew, glad I got that off my chest!  Every year I re-evaluate where pilotballcaps.com is going for the next year.  Last year we committed to improving our website....well, we did make some minor improvements, but I'm not up to speed on our next platform, soooo kind of an old dog-new tricks issue!

This year we are going to focus on what we do well and what our purpose is for the business. We may be an online retailer, but more and more I see that we are in the service industry. Our focus is solely on the customer's needs.  That does get in the way of profit, but I'm proud that we have not had to raise our prices in ten years and can still offer a superior product with personal service.

I couldn't do it without Connie (Mrs. Spud)!  She can always be counted on to keep up on the shipments when I'm out flying (yes, I do have a "day job").  Connie would never admit to this, but aside from being my heart and soul, she is able to see things from other peoples' perspective. She guides most of our decisions, even though she doesn't know it!

What is new this year??? Well, we're still expanding.  Navy and Air Force Aircrew are getting more to offer.  US Army Air Force and Eighth Air Force and 486th Bomb Group are new this year.  And we have worked with three new squadrons, all very happy to get some great gear for their troops.

I can't end the year without thanking our customers.  There are far too many to name that keep promoting us, sharing our posts and just flat out believing in us.  Thank you one and all.

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!