September 2015 Feature Story: Victory Promotions

A customer-first culture

Charles F. “Chuck” Lamon Jr., owner and founder of Victory Promotions, Watertown and Canton in his Watertown store last month. By Coty Giannelli, NNY Business.

Charles F. “Chuck” Lamon Jr., owner and founder of Victory Promotions, Watertown and Canton in his Watertown store last month. By Coty Giannelli, NNY Business.

For Victory Promotions, success comes with meeting diverse needs

By Lorna Oppedisano, NNY Business

Charles F. Lamon Jr. had a passion for sports and a knack for sales and marketing. He just needed a way to combine them.

Mr. Lamon always anticipated running his own business. After working for 10 years as sales manager at his father’s wholesale beer distribution company, Best Distributing Co., Mr. Lamon followed what he refers to as a “natural progression” and opened Victory Promotions.

“Every day starting this business, I drew upon the experiences and the marketing and sales training that I [had] received,” he said.

With virtually no experience in screen printing, the entrepreneur was confident that his marketing and sales expertise would carry the company. Now nearly 15 years later, the company has expanded to add custom embroidery and promotional products, serving local sports teams, nonprofits and small businesses in primarily Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

“It’s limitless,” he said of his customer base. “Anybody with a sign or a team name. Or anybody who wants branding.”

When he started out, Mr. Lamon wrote a business plan from scratch and researched his competition. He found that he had the market cornered, especially when it came to companies that offer both screen printing and custom embroidery services. There was a remarkable lack of competition in the team market, too, he said.

In June 2001, Mr. Lamon purchased a small screen printing operation in Watertown on Bradley Street and opened Victory Promotions. Later that year, the company added custom embroidery to its list of offerings. Demand increased, and in August 2003, he bought Gary Hopps’ KTI Screen Printing in Carthage to meet customers’ needs. The next year, the company’s amenities expanded to include promotional products. By 2006, it was time to move again. Victory Promotions closed its Bradley Street and Carthage locations to open its present home, the 8,800-square-foot facility at 114 Parker St., Watertown.

Customer demand dictated each expansion of space and capacity, Mr. Lamon explained.

“We have to make sure that our times aren’t longer than anybody else’s,” he said.

In 2007, Mr. Lamon made the decision to open a second retail location in Canton. After realizing how often he was traveling to St. Lawrence County — a couple times a week — he invested time to find the right commercial space up north, and opened shop in October.

Victory Promotions was appointed the only authorized team dealer of Adidas and Under Armour north of Syracuse in 2010 and 2013, respectively. More recently, the company became an authorized team dealer for Russell Athletic and Wilson.

From the perspective of local patrons, this is a huge plus. Watertown High School has been a client of Victory Promotions since Mr. Lamon founded the company, and within the past three years, the school has ordered the majority of its uniforms from Victory. Michael A. Lennox, the school’s director of health, physical education and athletics, said the fact that Victory Promotions offers the most current brands is significant.

“And more importantly, we’re given a good price,” he said, explaining that Mr. Lamon’s company works realistically within the price boundaries of what its clients can afford.

But what’s best about working with Victory Promotions is the service, Mr. Lennox said: “It’s personable. It’s up front. It’s honest.”

Mr. Lamon said he’s always conscious of the local economic climate of the north country and prides his business on its customer service and competitive pricing. By growing the business to its present volume, Victory Promotions has become a preferred distributor of many suppliers, he said, explaining that the savings are passed along to customers in ways such as package pricing for student athletes.

While Victory Promotions has primarily seen forward progress, it was not immune to the recession. In 2009, the company experienced its only year without positive growth. That year, the number of small business clients dipped due to the uncertainty of the economy, Mr. Lamon explained. But Victory Promotions offered local businesses something that could help them out of the slump: branding.

“It’s a lot different than a 30-second commercial,” he said.

The biggest challenge that Victory Promotions faces now is time, Mr. Lamon said with a chuckle.

“In this world today, everything is instant,” he said, “and this is still a business that you have to take an order, order in inventory, artwork approval and then actually process the goods.”

He’s added capacity and employees and tweaked the company’s processes to address the issue, he said. The company now employs 21 people. The facility on Parker Street houses 13 embroidery heads, an automatic screen printing machine and two manual screen printing machines.

Looking ahead, Mr. Lamon said he’ll probably add sales reps, and could potentially open more retail locations. If the timing is right to fill a void, he’ll take advantage of the opportunity. Within the past year, the company’s website and team catalogue have helped it expand, as well.

Mr. Lamon credits Victory Promotions’ success to the staff and the business’s efforts to maintain competitive pricing, production time and quality.

“At the end of the day, I think we’ve done a great job servicing the needs of our customers,” he said.

Lorna Oppedisano is a staff writer and editorial assistant for NNY Magazines. Contact her at loppedisano@wdt.net or 661-2381.