Specialties, Inc. opened its doors in 1984. Basement doors, that is! The
company was opened out of the owners' basement with one sewing machine and one operator.
Dawn Counts operated a sewing machine at a tent and awning company in St. Louis, Missouri. Back in 1984, banners were only being sewn at tent shops and only after the other tent jobs were finished. Sign companies needed a place to have banners sewn when they wanted them, not when the tent company had a few extra minutes.
One persistent customer kept talking to Dawn and telling her that she could do these banners on her own. She began to sew banners at night while still working at the tent and awning company during the day. After several months, and acquiring more steady customers, Dawn quit her job and began to sew for herself full time. By now Sewing Specialties needed a full time salesman. The man for the job was right upstairs. Dawn's husband, Robert, sold his own company to support his wife in her endeavor. He went out on the roads of Missouri and the surrounding states to drum up more business.
As much as she would have liked to do it all on her own, after about a year Dawn needed help. They bought more machines and hired more operators. While the customer base grew bigger each year through 1989, the business had out grown the basement. Robert and Dawn bought a commercial building with approximately 1,500 square feet and moved in immediately. Now they had more room for storage and bigger jobs. By this time they were working with several silk screen companies doing quantity jobs. They were sending out orders with as little as one banner per job to orders of 1,500 banners per job. That same year Dawn hired her son, Shawn Collins, to help run the business. He did a little bit of everything, from accounting to shipping.
During the next couple of years Sewing Specialties grew to have a customer list of about 300. This meant more machines and more operators. All the while Dawn never gave up sewing. She may have owned the company but still enjoyed the work.
Within five years Sewing Specialties outgrew that building. In 1994 they moved into their present location, a 3,000 square foot building. Also that year they lost the main driving force of the company when Dawn Counts passed away. Her husband and son, however, have continued taking the company to new heights each and every year.
Sewing Specialties, Inc. puts out approximately 500,000 banners per year. They average 10 employees year round with extra help during their busy seasons at Christmas and the summer.
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