Compass Headgear Variety Distinguishes Firm
Many companies offer employees apparel with the firm’s logo, ballcaps included. But few do it like Compass Precision. To get to the bottom of this unique headgear strategy, we recently spoke with the mad hatter himself, CEO Gary Holcomb.
Where Did You Get The Idea for Compass Hats?
At my last job with Coining, we got company hats. We decided to get really nice ones, so people would want to wear them. We purchased them from New Era, the company that makes caps for Major League Baseball. The hats were very popular with employees – someone on the plant floor always had one on. Customers who visited thought it was pretty cool and often wanted one. So, with Compass, I decided to do the same thing.
What Did You Do Differently at Compass?
Rather than having one hat for several years, I decided to introduce a new hat design each year, in March during Major League Baseball spring training. That way, employees could collect them and have choices as to which to wear. Hahaha… people could boast about their tenure based on how many different hats they had. And we could have fun discussing the pros and cons of each design.
How Did You Conceive The Design for the Original Hat?
We introduced the first Compass hat in March of 2020, about five months after forming the company. We had just designed Compass’s logo, with navy blue, red, light blue, and white as the primary colors. Although not a Yankee fan, I have always regarded the team’s logo and ballcap as iconic. So, our first hat design draws heavily upon the Yankees navy blue cap. Hahaha… maybe that’s fitting, because Mike Porcelli, the freelance contributor who has done an excellent job with all our graphics design work including our hat logos, grew up in New Jersey rooting for the Yankees.
What About The Later Designs?
Most people know I am a big baseball fan, so it is no surprise to explain that our hat designs have origins in Major League Baseball caps. Our second hat, introduced in 2021 and the only red one, might be considered a distant cousin of the St Louis Cardinals cap. The 2022 hat mirrored the Boston Red Sox cap, much to Mike’s dismay. Inspiration for our two 2023 hats came from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners headgear.
We are already working on designs for next year. And employee feedback is important. Comments on our first hat influenced the design for the second and so forth. Unfortunately, there are limitations. We get our hats from ’47, a good company to work with. But given the volumes we purchase, they are currently unable to produce a hat with a different colored bill, like the Atlanta Braves. We got one prototype, but that’s all (Gary is wearing this hat in the photo above).
How Do Your Employees Feel About Getting a New Compass Hat Every Year?
We have gotten lots of positive feedback, even from people who don’t wear hats. I have seen numerous displays of hats near work stations and desks. One guy asked me for a second one because his grandson wouldn’t give his back. Same with another employee whose son confiscated hers. I once got an urgent request from an employee wanting a replacement because his dog ate his first one. Several customers asked for one. And of course, it is easy to spot employees wearing them while walking through our shops.
Finally, Why Do You Like Hats?
To me, wearing a ballcap conjures up an image of youthfulness and team identity. I think back to playing Little League baseball with my friends. We were in it together… no stars, just trying to win and have fun. I also reminisce about watching the MLB All-Star game each summer, with all the best players in their own teams’ hats. So to me, wearing a baseball hat is a way to identify with a group, to feel young, and maybe tell the world how good we are. Compass is just a great big team. We are striving to win as a team. But no matter what, we are doing it together.
For more information about Compass and its team orientation towards doing business, including its hats, please contact CEO Gary Holcomb directly at email@example.com.