A 25-Year New Beginning
Reading time: 2-1/2 minutesIt is a sweltering Spring day in San Francisco, and a 14-year old boy walks up and down the bleachers at Candlestick Park, shouting out prices, selling souvenirs. His father insists on a second job, and so, a young Michael Spranger finds himself selling pennants and caps at every Giants baseball game and every 49ers football game.He had no idea the impact this little job would have on his future.In fact, young Michael Spranger would never guess that in the upcoming years, he would sell thousands upon thousands of caps, and one day celebrate the 25th anniversary of his own promotional marketing company.Promotional Edge in San Francisco marks their 25th year and to celebrate, Michael and Vicky Spranger decided that instead of simply announcing their 25th year in business, they would launch a campaign that would inspire their customers and fuel their business for 25 more: “Every year, on the anniversary date of when each customer first started doing business with us, we’ll drop off a celebratory anniversary gift, and we’ll do this each year for 25 more years. We’re serious about showing customers how to create their own edge by demonstrating the effectiveness of promotional products,” Michael said.Entrepreneurial stories often sound easier in hindsight, but there are defining moments. Twenty-five years ago when a newly-married Michael walked into the door of his small, recently purchased home, and declare to his young bride “we’re going into business,” the declaration was easy, but the doing was difficult.“It was really scary,” said Vicky, who, at the time, was a school teacher and now runs the business alongside Michael, “He wasn’t making any money at all, and he was on commission-only.”Between his days as a young hawker for sports memorabilia and the start of his distributorship, Michael put himself through college at Cal Berkeley. He first learned about the promotional products industry from his scoutmaster, a 50-year veteran in the promotional products business who intrigued Michael by asking, “Hey, Mike, instead of selling onesies and twosies at Giants games, how about you try selling 500 pennants or 800 baseball caps at a time.”After a short season working with another distributor, Michael took the leap toward entrepreneurship and opened Promotional Edge.Celebrating a 25-year run by announcing 25 more creates a whole new era for the Sprangers and their customers.This year, they launched into a new future by rebranding their company and re-engineering their business processes, announcing to their customers “a new cloud-based sales order system (commonsku) that will expedite orders and deliver on deadlines faster than ever.” The system would include “interactive presentations where clients can comment on products and ideas directly on the presentation, reducing the friction of multiple emails and making purchasing a delight.”Hear Michael’s and Vicky’s thoughts about how commonsku establishes a new foundation for their future:After 25 years, the Sprangers have experienced every cycle of the entrepreneurial journey. Through very lean years, (when their young kids helped kit projects for customers), through recessions, and through seasons of personal struggle, their fortitude and hope shine very bright, and, “on top of it all,” Michael says, “we’re still married, which is even a bigger deal!” (Vicky laughs).Commitment runs deep with the Sprangers: they have several clients who have been with them throughout their entire career. (How’s that for customer lifetime value?)“I like this business because you get to be creative,” said Vicky, “not every project is the same, it’s always different.” “And I’m not selling the same product day-in and day-out,” said Michael, there are so many different opportunities.”Opportunity is the operative word for the Sprangers as they look toward the future with confidence. Twenty-five years is not an ending, it’s a new beginning.
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