Cintas, Century Place Recognized for Innovation

Posted May 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

Two TRSA-member companies, Cintas Corp. and Century Place Apparel, recently were included on a list of 39 top apparel company innovators featured in a cover article in the May issue of Apparel magazine. 

“This year’s crop of innovators is on the front lines when it comes to harnessing technology to please their customers and make their businesses run better,” wrote Editor Jordan Speer and three article co-authors, who selected 39 top companies from a large group of nominees.

In a review of Cintas’ entry, the authors noted that tech advances – coupled with input from customers – have played a key role in refining the company’s lines of professional wear, including its “Regeneration suiting,” which is made entirely from recycled materials (25 recycled 2-liter plastic bottles per suit).

The feedback Cintas obtained from customers fueled innovations designed to make its suits and other professional workwear more stylish, as well as comfortable and easy to care for. “As a company we are always looking to evolve our product line, and this can be by getting insight into hot trends, making apparel easier to work in, easier to care for or launder, or simply just make it easier to get ready for the day,” said Kristin Sharp, director of merchandising and design at Cintas. The company based in Mason, OH, recently has broadened this message into a national advertising campaign dubbed “Ready for the Workday,” that emphasizes the ability of Cintas garments to keep wearers cool, dry and able to move easily as they do their jobs.

The article cited another innovation in which Cintas used customer input to refine its “Flexique” housekeeping collection by adding a “moisture control system” (MCS) from Burlington Industries that’s designed to help wearers stay comfortable in environments ranging from 65°-95° F. “We are constantly looking to evolve and use customer research to make life easier for (the people who wear our uniforms), Sharp said. “And all the while, we always have our eyes open, looking for our next innovation.”

Century Place was recognized mainly for recent upgrades in its e-commerce capabilities that have enabled the Charlotte, NC-based company to compete more effectively by offering customers better online service. As a vertically integrated manufacturer with production based in Guatemala, Century Place has specialized in high-luster threads and performance microfibers, said Tim Stiene, vice president of sales. The company also has added high-tech features such as snag resistance and moisture-wicking capabilities to enhance the appeal of its garments. However, while focusing on high-performance polo shirts and related items, Century Place dedicated less attention to ensuring that its customers also had a cutting-edge online-purchasing experience. “Our site was not as current as it needed to be and didn’t give distributors the ease of use they needed,” Stiene said. “After talking to our clients about how they want to use the site, and analyzing what our competitors were doing, we decided to take our site one step further.”

Thanks to recent website upgrades, Century Place customers now can order garments in real time directly from the company’s inventory for same-day shipping. The entire process, including ordering, warehouse notification, packing, shipping and payment takes about 30 minutes on average. Launched in 2015, the upgraded website also allows customers who log in to see virtual samples of garments in all styles and colors. The software can display a virtual sample, and the software e-mails the client for his or her approval. After giving the OK, the order is processed using the company’s advanced e-commerce/distribution system. The system allows clients to customize orders, as well, including the addition of logos and embroidery.

The site upgrades have boosted sales and customer satisfaction. “From a marketing perspective, the addition of customization and ease of use is addressing the needs of our customer demand,” Stiene said. “It is a combination that is contributing to our year-over-year growth.”

Click here to download the full article. 

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