Special to AS&KT
a business plan that focuses on a market niche is an important
key to the success of any business. This is particularly true
in the embroidery industry in Los Angeles, where over the past
few years embroidery has become increasingly important as a
valueadded embellishment on garments. As a result of the number
of new embroidery companies attracted to this market,
competition among embroiderers has grown intense.
So, how does an embroiderer go about establishing itself? Part
of the answer is to become unique in the products created, or
the services provided.
to David Theissen, sales manager for Tajima West, distributors
of the Japanese-made Tajima embroidery machines, embroidery
has become an attractive business because it is relatively easy
to get started, and there is the lure that there is money to
be made. As a result, many people entering the market have little
or no background, and no business plan at all.
Theissen noted, “The majority of embroiderers don’t really
grasp what they are doing, because it’s very simple to get
into the business. In talking with potential start-up embroiderers,
when I ask them what their business plan is, most say, “I
don’t have a plan, I just want a machine!”
One embroiderer who understands
the importance of planning is Edward Yoon, who entered the Los
Angeles embroidery market with only two embroidery machines
in 1993. He had a very aggressive plan: to become the largest
embroiderer in America, according to Theissen. And in just five
years of innovative thinking and strategic development, Yoon’s
U.S. Embroidery Company Is on tract to achieve that goal.
According to Theissen, in addition to Yoon’s strong embroidery
background, he also had a great deal of dedication and self-confidence.
Today, the Cerritos, Calif.-based U.S. Embroidery Company maintains
48 Tajima machines, many of which are the top of the line models.
The company occupies a total of about 25,000 square feet of
space and employs about 120.
With 48 machines, U.S. Embroidery has about 1,000 embroidery
heads, and the capacity to produce about 40,000 units of an
embroidered chest logo per day. The company has already established
itself as a high quality embroiderer, and does large volumes
of work for such manufacturers as St. John Knits, several Disney
and Warner Brothers licensees, and Byer of California to name
Yoon attributes his fast growth and success to his 30 years
of experience in the business, during which he developed a knowledge
of various base fabrics, along with the necessary technical
background for engineering the designs. Tajima equipment provides
for a highly accurate and efficient operation without costly
mistakes or delays, which translates into a real savings that
is passed on to his customers.
Yoon has also applied innovation in other ways. By minimizing
the number of stitches used in each design, U.S. Embroidery
is able to provide a high quality product at a minimum cost.
Yoon noted, “Recently, I was bidding on a program for J. C.
Penney on a embroidery design that the buyer said required about
17,000stitches. I did the exact same design as every other embroiderer
bidding on the project, but my sample required only 11,000 stitches.
The customer was very surprised because my embroidery looked
better, and due to the fact that fewer stitches were used, along
with the shortened production time, it was less expensive than
my competition. And, when we’re talking in terms of several
million units per year, this can represent a huge savings for
to Yoon, the saving can mean as much as a 50% reduction in price.
So, what has created the general impression in the market that
high quality is directly related to the number of stitches in
Theissen said, “For most of the industry, the people who make
the design technically don’t know anything about the process
of embroidery. The designing procedure itself has become a fairly
simplistic process because it’s all done by computer. And
for most of the industry, the people who create these designs,
sell their work to the embroiderers based on the number of stitches.
So, being the good sales people that they are, they sell as
many stitches as possible. However, if all the embroiderers
were as knowledgeable as Edward, they would understand that
an excessive number of stitches used in a design is the embroiderers
biggest enemy, because it increases the amount of time that
the product is underneath the machine, thus requiring more time
to complete each item.”
The Production: On-time delivery
is a big problem for many embroidery companies. In addition,
quality problems also tend to arise when trying to work too
fast in order to meet a deadline.
Yoon said, “In order to create good quality embroidery, it
is necessary to allow enough time.
Embroidery specializes in embroidery with silk screen, embroidered
leather, embroidered emblems and patches, simulated quilted
embroidery, the use of metallic threads, and customized antique
The Equipment: We have the ability
to do both long designs and large designs. We can embroider
on a king-size bed spread. So, we have no limits. With all the
business going south or overseas embroidery companies today
have to continually develop more skills in order to compete.”
noted, “Edward has chosen in his mix of machines to have some
extra deep, front-to-back sewing fields, and some with extra
wide sewing fields, left-to-right. He also has machines that
have small sewing fields to do the small jobs. He is one of
the only producers in town that have the extra deep machines
and the extra-wide machines. So, he’s able to do more things
much more efficiently than some of his competitors.”
Having the right digitizing equipment
is also important. Because Yoon understand embroidery, he has
been able to become more efficient in that he does. He said,
“When people learn digitizing on the computer, they never
learn real digitizing. We started with some manual digitizing
machines. Currently, we have four digitizing machines plus one
old-fashioned machines, just in case we need to create real
detailed things. And, we still use that old method occasionally,
because the old-fashioned digitizer gives better stitches. But
of course it’s not as efficient as the computer. So, today
the majority of our work is done by computer. Overall we can
handle about 40 different designs digitizing per day.”
Tajima and U.S. Embroidery and the fact that U.S. Embroidery
has such an extensive array of Tajima equipment, Tajima occasionally
uses Yoon’s facility for testing some new products.
The Future: U.S. Embroidery has
established itself as a reliable source for a wide range of
embroidery needs. Because of its efficient operation, high volume
capabilities, and on-time deliveries, the company has become
one of the fastest growing embroidery contractors in the country.
Yoon said, ”I attribute my success to the fact that we don’t
take on more than we can handle at any one time. It creates
major problems for the manufacturers when the embroiderer gets
overbooked. Sometimes smaller companies will take on too many
orders, and then they have to sub-contract the orders out in
order to get them done. But we never send our orders anywhere
else. We only take the amount that we can finish on time.”
But Yoon still wants to do more. Because he has been able to
successfully manage his large number of machines efficiently
so far, he believes that his goal of becoming the largest embroiderer
in America is within his reach. And, he is looking at a new
market to build a higher volume future business.
noted, “The thing about Edward’s goal is that he is striving
for a market that is yet to be developed. He wants as customers
the manufacturers that will bring in a million piece order,
and say, ‘I want this in 30 days.’ And, these are the companies
that are not doing any embroidery on their products, because
it’s unmanageable, and because the embroidery capacity is
not available locally. But, there are plenty of manufacturers
in the Los Angeles area who do numbers that are that big. It’s
not that they wouldn’t like to sell embroidered garments,
it’s just that they don’t want the hassle or dividing up
their business amount several different embroiderers.”
Theissen said, “When you have a large facility that has as
many heads as U.S. Embroidery, if it is managed well like Edward
has been able to do, a company can make a reasonable amount
of money doing embroidery for lowest price per 1,000 stitches.
But the designs have to be good. The equipment and the procedures
have to run right. And, everything has to work together. Edward
is geared towards that end. So, he’s looking for really big
Based on his past success, it appears that Yoon will achieve
his goal. Yoon is very proud of what he has been able to accomplish
since he opened U.S. Embroidery. He said, “Having acquired
the work from such high quality manufacturers as St. John Knits
is very rewarding. But, I’m still looking to get into more
difficult and challenging jobs the things that no one else would
consider doing. I’m targeting to grow to about 100 machines
and about 2,000 heads over the next two year.” AS&KT
Sportswear & Knitting Times · November 1999