Image is more important than ever as today’s businesses, organizations and charities strive to set themselves apart in competitive markets.

Businesses purchase custom apparel and promotional items to establish an identity and become recognizable.

TOScreen printing, embroidering, fleet graphics, banners, and posters are only some of the ways customizing helps create images for the workplace, charity events, and many other things.

At Weikel Sportswear Inc., St. Lawrence, owner, and president Todd Weikel has a staff of 18 that provides custom clothing and uniforms to industries concerned with portraying professionalism to the public.

“We do a lot of work for service industries,” Weikel said.

Employees who visit customers’ homes need to be clearly identified with a uniform or logo to ensure proper identification, he said.

Customized orange and yellow fluorescent safety apparel required for factory, roadwork or mechanical workers by many companies is also provided by Weikel.

“Safety wear has become a big industry,” he said.

With a large showroom, customers can see and feel merchandise, providing competition for online companies and making the showroom a business tool.

“It’s a special thing to have this much on display,” Weikel said.

Weikel, celebrating 30 years in business, not only outfits industry customers but provides discounted promotional supplies and apparel for nonprofits.

“That’s part of our giveback to the community,” he said. “We give a lot.”

Spread across hundreds of customers such as the Humane Society of Berks County and events such as Ride for Wise – honoring slain Reading police officer Michael H. Wise II – Weikel’s products can be seen everywhere from marathons to fundraisers.

Providing for fundraisers

Jersey Ink, a company of six employees on North Ninth Street, recently provided more than 800 shirts for the Gov. Mifflin School District Pink-Out fundraiser, with all sales made through an e-commerce website set up by Jersey Ink.

“T-shirt fundraisers are huge,” said Jersey Ink Marketing Manager Christina Becker. “We love working with the local community.”

The company, founded by Susan Becker in 2006, who along with her daughter, Christina, and her son, graphic designer, Daniel Becker, provides screen printing, embroidery, signage and stickers and promotional products, as well as spirit and athletic wear in the Reading area.

“We’re really good at branding,” Becker said.

Becker said Jersey Ink works mainly with local school districts, businesses or people in their community, and can even provide social media support.

“If you don’t put yourself together professionally, people aren’t going to think of you as a professional and they’re not going to do business with you,” she said.

Experience counts

When Debbie Berger, owner of Hasch Daal Custom Embroidery, Silk-Screening & Promotional Items, Maxatawny Township, officially opened her business in 1999, she was also employed as the clothing and gift buyer for Kutztown University. She worked for the university from 1987 to 2005.

“I learned what good embroidery looks like,” Berger said. “I knew what good silk screening looks like. I knew about promotional materials.”

The experience she gained purchasing promotional apparel and supplies at the university helped Berger learn what questions to ask her customers to prevent overspending on marketing materials while still gaining value for their businesses or events.

Berger meets with customers to analyze budget, target market and goals to advise them what apparel or promotional ideas may best suit their needs. She says business owners who do not see results from working with her may not come back and place future orders.

“I like to work with them,” she said. “For me, it’s the best part of my job.”

Hasch Daal’s typical customers are local small businesses such as nearby Halye’s Automotive in Maxatawny or Main Street Dream Vacations in Kutztown, but Berger also works with nonprofits in the area.

She said: “I do a lot for the local library in Kutztown.”

Berger also posts about orders she receives from her customers on Facebook.

“It’s helping them and it’s helping me,” she said. “I enjoy promoting other people’s businesses.”

At Hasch Daal, customers are considered friends: Promoting local companies is a common goal.

Berger said having her clients appear professional and getting their names out through her custom apparel and promotional products is key.

“It’s just like driving down the road and seeing a road sign,” she said.