Every Mountain Standard tee and hat is printed and embroidered just 2 miles away at the Goodbye Blue Monday facilities, in Boulder, Colorado.
Their team specializes in everything from screen printing and embroidery, to graphic design and fulfillment, always with a focus on providing exceptional quality of service and workmanship. Last week, we stopped by to watch them print the latest round of Mountain Standard tees, and to catch up with co-owners Bob Haney, and Bill Sheerin.
MS: How was Goodbye Blue Monday (GBM) started?
GBM: GBM began as a living room conversation in 1988. Relatives were having difficulty finding a consistently reliable source to imprint their growing sportswear line and I was having difficulty accepting that I would spend my entire career working for a multinational corporation, and that my employee number would remain 518122 until the day that I retired, quit, or died.
It was serendipity - two problems intersected at the same point, both finding respective solutions in the other, and a covalent bond was formed - shared electrons...a.k.a., being in the right place at the right time.
That's a simplification of the story. But like so many businesses, that's how it began - having the courage/stupidity (it's a fine line) to jump from a cliff and trust that you can fly.
What was the vision when you started back in 1989?
Actually, the vision at that point was simple. Having resigned from a secure job with a multinational corporation, and one that thought enough of me to assign my very own six digit employee number for life, I was scared shitless... the ink wasn't entirely dry on our first mortgage and there was a new cradle in our bedroom, so.... the vision was to see our way through to the end of the first week in business, then through the first month, quarter, year, and so on.
But we knew that as a service business, if you pay attention to details, provide a quality product at a fair price, and do it with consistency, the likelihood of being successful is greatly improve. And somewhere in there should be a mention of honesty. It's not that things didn't sometimes go wrong, nor that occasionally they don't still. With the combination of high volume, moving parts, and project deadlines, there is zero chance that things will be perfect 100% of the time - not over the long haul.
Since your start, GBM has built an impressive list of local clients including Justin’s Nut Butter, New Belgium Brewing Co., and the Colorado Rockies. When did MS & GBM start working together and what first started the local partnership?
I met Jason Olden in Crossfit Sanitas about 1 year ago. We typically cool down and stretch after a strenuous class. We began to talk about family, sports, life, work. Being ex-jocks we have a lot in common. That’s how it started. Jason is a good man!
You have a team of about 30 employees who specialize in screen printing and apparel embroidery, mixing paints and inks to precise specifications, and so much more -- all of this happens in house. Most of your employees have been working for GBM for anywhere from 5 to 22 years. What is GBM doing that keeps retention and morale so high?
I think it's a number of things really, but we've always tried to keep in mind that the people who work with us have lives outside the workplace. They have families at home, obligations, emergencies, whatever have you. So we've always attempted to operate with that in mind, and to afford some level of understanding and flexibility for the people who work with us.
It IS a factory setting, and we do strive to be efficiently productive, but with a fair portion of humanity in the mix as well. Two workplace platitudes that always come to mind, cliché as they may be: treat people as you would like to be treated, and never ask of them something that you wouldn't or haven't done yourself.
It also doesn't hurt to keep them laughing as often as possible.... see Bob on roller-skates in the archives.
You’ve tried your hand at every role in the company. Which job is the most difficult to do?
Without hesitation, for me, it would be dealing with all that hot cotton rolling out of the curing ovens. It's like Lucy at the Chocolate Factory. I'm just not cut out for it, and it doesn't take long for me to be stashing wads of garments wherever I can find a flat spot.
Keep'em in order you say?... S,M,L,XL?...inspect for mill defects, print defects, image straightness?...stack and fold in even dozens... and neatly mind you... and at a rate of 60 dozen per hour @ 300 degrees? Really!?... fugetaboudit. Not my skill set. And I swear that if the press Ops see me standing in for someone in the catcher's position they crank it into hyperdrive. Like I said: keep them laughing as often as possible.
Life in Colorado can’t be all work and no play. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work in Boulder?
I live north of town in what is called Boulder's Suburban Plains. My absolute favorite pastime has evolved -- now that my offspring are self sufficient -- to involve two wheels and a throttle. I have a beat up, twice wrecked motorcycle -- dusty, dark, low and slow. Chugging home along the backroads behind Boulder Res at or about sunset.... if only I could bottle and sell that feeling.