The Yellow T-Shirt Story

In the early days of SanMar, Marty Lott ordered 1,200 yellow t-shirts for a customer. While the shirts he received were all technically “yellow,” it was an inconsistent bunch — the color, fabric, brand and sizing all varied from shirt to shirt. When he contacted the vendor to make it right, they refused. “We have your money, you have your shirts. The deal is done,” he was told.

When Marty went home that day and told his wife Sharon about what happened, they came up with a new plan. What would happen, they wondered, if they went into the same business with the goals of telling the truth and being nice? They would make sure each customer got what was expected, and when there was a problem, they’d work with them to make it right. They decided then and there that being nice to people was just a better way of doing business.

That motley order of t-shirts became the beginning of the blank t-shirt business at SanMar, and formed the foundation of the philosophy that continues to define the way SanMar does business today.