Ever since she can remember, Sara Webb has been a juggler. Juggling activities, career, family, friends, and volunteering. Sara has learned through all of this juggling that she can do it herself. But it’s far easier (not to mention more fun) to juggle with a partner. And it was on this premise that InTandem Promotions was born!
With over 20-years of experience in the promotional products industry and working with a wide range of companies and organizations building their brand stories, Sara is excited to build upon that experience and meet our clients’ needs. In 2013, InTandem Promotions open its doors. And from there, Sara has built the organization to over 12 employees, numerous online stores, national and international reach, fulfillment and warehousing, safety and recognition programs, and custom-designed products.
Sara received her undergraduate and graduate degree from Kennesaw State University in both Marketing and Finance (because one degree was not enough, neither was one major). Sara believes that only through continued education can she continue to develop not only herself but InTandem Promotions.
In 2017, Sara was awarded the CVS Supplier Diversity training (a 6-month mini master’s program) and in 2018, she was selected to participate in Launchpad2X for Women-Owned Businesses. In 2018, Sara was thrilled to receive the Trailblazer Award given by the Greater Women’s Business Council. Sara was awarded the 2019 Advocate of the Year Award.
Sara currently serves on the board of The Partnering Group. The Partnering Group is a buying group representing over $100MM in promotional sales. Additionally, she serves on the Marketing Committee of The Greater Women’s Business Council. She is also a member of EO – Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of GWBC’s Open for Business. And this is gonna be a fun one. I have with me today Sara Webb with InTandem Promotions. Welcome, Sara.
Sara Webb: [00:00:30] Well, I am so excited to hear you and to be with you today.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:35] Well, before we get too far into things, tell us about InTandem Promotions. How are you serving folks?
Sara Webb: [00:00:40] I fell in love with this industry. So, we are a branding and communications company that delivers what people crave now and always, and especially now, in the midst of all of this unprecedented time, more of a personal connection. We are guided by the belief that emotions are at the heart of any memorable experience, even this one. And we create memorable and meaningful branding programs that connect people with companies that they care about. And we do that through the use of promotional products, online corporate stores, years of service, employee engagement services, direct mail and many more. And then, we also have in-house services that include custom embroidery, and heat transfer, and gift wrap, and warehousing, and fulfillment and program development. So, a really fun organization that is able to provide branding and communication services to our clients.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:41] Now, what size is a good client for you? What’s a typical kind of profile of an ideal client?
Sara Webb: [00:01:49] Absolutely. So, we enjoy working with clients that have multiple locations, or are hosting, or have multiple events, or are seeking ways to engage their employees or their customers. So, the range is— a good size is around 250 employees and up. We also work with clients that are both national and international. So, clients like Delta Airlines and Best Buy, and clients of that size where they have multiple locations that we can help serve.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:25] And then, what are some of the ways specifically like you would serve kind of a multinational company? You mentioned, like an online store. Would that be a place where any one of their employees can go, and then pick out maybe some materials that have the Delta logo on it, or the company logo on it, or T-shirts, or like what are some of the ways that you would serve those kind of large enterprise companies?
Sara Webb: [00:02:53] No, that’s exactly what we do. So, we’ll work with it an organization, and we’ll determine, first of all, what are their needs? What are their demographics? The whole purpose behind what we do is finding the product that is going to make an impact. Promotional products is the only form of advertising that engages all of the senses – sight, touch, down. You have all of the taste from great food offerings and gifts. But then, it’s also something that’s tangible, and it’s going to have that lasting effect.
Sara Webb: [00:03:24] So, as you mentioned, having the online store, our clients are able to have one location for their employees nationally and internationally to go and select product. It’s all warehoused here in our facility. But then, also, if you think about employee’s years of service or new hire kits, going ahead, and packing, and shipping out a new hire kit to an employee that is about to start, and they receive this gift a week before they come in that has all of their information, so they can go ahead and feel like they’re part of the family.
Sara Webb: [00:03:57] Or if you’re thinking about, especially right now, we’re doing a lot of work-from-home kits. One of the other fun things that we’re working on is people are on a ton of Zoom calls, and we get invitations on a regular basis. So, thinking of ways to send an employee or potential client a gift that they receive when they attend a Zoom call. So, any of that engagement, engaging and a showing appreciation, as well as opportunities to reduce the amount of space. Work space is now going to be a thing. So, we’re able to store and stock all that merchandise in our warehouse and ship that out, so it’s no longer in somebody’s branding closet or down to the basement somewhere that somebody has to pick, pack and ship.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:47] And then, in today’s kind of new normal, like you said, a lot of people are at home. They’re working. Sometimes, this is the first time they’ve ever worked from home. And for the organization to create that kind of engagement and connection, what better way of doing that by sending them kind of a goody bag or a care package to their home that has ways to help them be more effective in this kind of new remote world?
Sara Webb: [00:05:13] Absolutely. In this environment, workers are in an entirely new setting, and it’s not just working from home. A lot of people had flexible schedules before this, but it’s all of the other bits and components. Your kids are at home, your families at home. You’re stressed. You’re pulled in five different directions. And yet, as an employer, you need to keep your people engaged and make sure that they have the proper setup and that they are taking care of the necessary steps that need to happen to get their job done at home. So, whether that’s speakers or technology, we’ve done a lot of the ear pods, so that people can be on all of these Zoom calls while they’re working.
Sara Webb: [00:06:04] And then, now, as states are starting to slowly open up, a lot of the conversation is around, what does the coming back look like? So, preparing employers with we’re doing a lot of mousepad that have, look, this is what we have to do to keep our team safe. These are the steps. Washing your hands and things like that. So, everybody’s getting new mouse pads. antibacterial pens. People need to be thinking about the materials that they’re using on a regular basis in a different way. Hand sanitizers, and masks, all of those things. So, anything that you can think of to help remind, reinforce, and enable your team and employees to work better and more effectively is really our focus, especially right now.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:53] Could you talk about kind of what happened in your organization? Maybe share some advice and insight for our listeners that “Okay, now the crisis is happening. This is not something I’m reading about in the newspaper. This is real. Now, the government is telling me I have to change the way that we’ve always done business.” How did your team kind of react and adjust in handling this crisis?
Sara Webb: [00:07:19] Well, I think, the first couple of weeks— well, the first full week, I’m pretty sure that I was in shock and denial. I was trying to figure out, how are we going to pivot? How we’re going to move our team? During this time, there was a lot of events that were canceled. And a large part of our business is focused on trade shows, and events, and the swag that you get people to your booth, and the swag that you get for attending events. So, a lot of those were being canceled. So, when this happened in mid-March, we were finishing up a large-scale corporate project, and we finished that up, and we focused on the typical thing – cleaning up, invoicing, and closing out our month the way that we should.
Sara Webb: [00:08:11] And then, we started preparing our team to keep them safe. Making sure that we knew how to address and help support our clients even through a lot of this transition. We switched as an industry from selling branded promotional products to branded PPE or personal protection equipment. So, we have the masks and the gloves to keep teams safe and clients safe nationally and internationally. But I think the biggest thing that we have learned from this was keeping our team cross-trained, so that we could have a safe environment here. We had some team members in, and then some team members out of the office.
Sara Webb: [00:09:01] We were still doing a lot of embroidery in-house and warehousing. We support the construction industry, as well as the food service package industry, and then a lot of the medical organizations, and then all throughout manufacturing. And so, we needed to continue to make sure that we were able to supply them with the essential needs that they had to have. So, figuring out cross-training and where somebody was in sales, can they go in the back and easily pull, pack, and ship product that needed to go out that day?
Sara Webb: [00:09:34] I think one of the biggest things that has come out of this whole crisis was our ability as a team to come together to adjust. And I think that comes with an organization. Our industry is constantly evolving and changing. And so, being part of this in our makeup and in our DNA. And so, it was already inherent. It was something that we were used to. So, learning the safe way to to purchase some of this equipment was something that we had to do and change. But then, just keeping moving, and keeping the team engaged and active, and showing what the masterplan is, even if it was just for a day. So, that’s all we knew about was today. And then, building out what the next couple of weeks were.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:27] Now, going through this crisis has caused you probably to change some of the ways you’ve done things, or are doing or selling maybe some different things. Do you see any kind of silver lining at the end of this where you go, “When things kind of stabilize a little bit, we’ll be able to maybe use this and help our clients in this new way that we hadn’t done before”? Has there been any kind of surprises or any opportunity that’s bubbled up because you were forced to make some changes?
Sara Webb: [00:10:56] Now, I really appreciate you asking that. I think one of the biggest lessons that we’ve learned is having a strong supply chain. So, I love that we have access to over a million different products within our industry and that there is so much diversity within the industry. But having that strong supply chain partners and factories that are local has been a tremendous support. And then, also, us having control of our own supply chain. So, what I mean by that is that we do offer a lot of services in-house. So, when organizations and factories were closed, and many of the states that we were normally shipping out from, we had the product here. And whether it was in Georgia or in our warehouse, we had it here, so we could still continue to support locations that were in need of the services that we had.
Sara Webb: [00:11:59] And so, I think one of the biggest opportunities for us is recognizing and keeping a lot of services in-house, and then also continuing to strengthen our supply chain. Our manufacturers and factories that we’ve had this close relationship with, we’ve been in constant contact. What is going on? And what do you have coming in? And how can I help? Just managing that conversation, so that we could be more on the forefront instead of on the back end of receiving, and having to act and react based off of the information that was coming in.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:35] It sounds like that skill of being nimble and being able to juggle multiple challenges simultaneously has really paid off for you during this crisis. And, really, I’m sure a lot of your team members really have stepped up and maybe, I don’t want to say overachieve but maybe surprised you in some ways that they’ve been able to just kind of rise to the occasion.
Sara Webb: [00:13:01] Yeah, absolutely. It’s very easy to want to sit on the couch and just wait until this is over. And I know a lot of people that that’s what they’re doing. That’s their defense mechanism and that’s how they’re handling it. What has been amazing about the team here at InTandem is that it has always been future-focused. What do we need to do right now? And what do we need to do four hours from now? And what are we going to do 24 hours from now? Because to that end, the information that we’re receiving was changing minute by minute, day by day. And we, obviously, wanted to keep our team safe, top priority. But then, how do we keep the business moving and everybody employed?
Sara Webb: [00:13:48] And the team here recognized those needs, and we’ve figured out a schedule of what we could do in-house and what we needed to do while we were working from home. And everyone stepped up, and is taking care of things, and is doing things that is not in their “job description.” And that’s also the nature of our organization, but it was definitely more true during this pandemic than it has ever been. And the level of attentiveness, and care, and detail, and just supporting each other as we kind of work through this.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:25] Now, how has the GWBC been able to help you?
Sara Webb: [00:14:30] Oh, man. So, one of the biggest learnings from all of this is to have that strong network, and to have those conversations with good friends, and have people that you can rely and depend on. GWBC is a tremendous advocate for InTandem and I know four other women organizations, but having the resources available, who to reach out to. They were going out to large scale enterprises, and supporting the women-owned businesses, and sending out our contact information. These are people that can help. These are organizations that can support these larger enterprises because, again, they’re trying to source in a whole new way and find things.
Sara Webb: [00:15:19] But then, at the same time, knowing that I had friends and other organizations that are going through the same thing. We’re all trying to find out, how do we get funding? And how does this work? And having teh Zoom meetings and the conference calls and all of the information. They have a dedicated page that was just for COVID. So, without the GWBC, it would have been a lot more difficult in getting through this crisis for sure. And that is definitely one of the key takeaways is take the time and invest in your relationships, invest in networking. Everybody has a busy day and a busy schedule. But if I didn’t have the strong foundation with my connections from GWBC, from WBENC, again, there were so many opportunities where the learnings were coming to me, and I wasn’t having to go out and find them, and figure it out on my own. I have never felt alone throughout this crisis. We’ve all been together. And the family and the network from BWGC has been vital to our success through this crisis.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:32] I think that’s great advice for business owners in general and, specifically, women business owners to really leverage that GWBC because it’s hard to lead an organization, small to midsize organizations especially. You think you are in this alone, and that there’s no one to turn to, and you don’t want to show weakness to your team, and not let them think that maybe you don’t know what you’re doing, and people have those kind of fears. But when you have an organization like GWBC that can kind of vet who the real people are, who’s the right information is, that takes a lot of weight off of you, so that you don’t have to worry about that at all, really. And then, you have access to somebody that’s kind of watching your back that is trying to advocate for you and trying to help you kind of hang in there. That’s invaluable during a crisis. But like you said, that should be foundational in just everyday.
Sara Webb: [00:17:31] Absolutely. They have so many events and so many opportunities. And as woman-owned organization, there’s different challenges. And having a safety net, but then having a safe environment so that I can say, “This is what’s going on. What would you recommend?” and not feeling as though I’m in the wrong, or I have to justify what is happening, those connections and those friendships have absolutely propelled us year over year over year. And it’s an investment that women-owned businesses that it’s worth the investment, it’s worth the time in building those, so that when a crisis does happen, and it will, this is not going to be the last, but, I mean, hopefully this is the last pandemic, for the love of God, but whatever comes next, I’ll be able to continue to lean on my friends and lean on the relationships that I’ve established with the GWBC to help, again, continue to move us through it, and over it, and onto the next.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:41] Now, in your organization, what is the pain that companies are having where they’re like, “You know what? We should call that InTandem team. They got their act together”? What are some of the things that they’re struggling with where you’re the right solution?
Sara Webb: [00:18:58] So, during the crisis itself, the biggest pain point is locating correctly sourced masks, and gloves, and the protection devices and equipment that is needed. So, a lot of things are being confiscated either at the borders through customs. There’s a lot of counterfeit merchandise that’s out there because, again, when you have an opportunity like this, there’s going to be a lot more opportunity for thieves out there. And so, with us having the strong supply chain and the supply network, we’re able to navigate through some of those scary points. None of our PPE has been confiscated. It’s all delivered directly to the clients when they’ve needed it. We’ve been able to source what has been needed. So, that has been a tremendous help to a lot of our large enterprise clients and locating what is necessary for them and their employees to keep them in business.
Sara Webb: [00:20:10] Outside of the crisis, our clients come to us because our focus is on branding with purpose. So, we’re not just going to say, “Here is a pen. And this fits within your price point.” Our focus is on what is going to be the ways that the product is going to make an impact and create that emotional connection between the company and the individual that they’re trying to reach out to or engage. One of the things that we say is we don’t believe in trick-or-treat marketing, which is if you’ve been to any trade show, and you have a whole lot of like a swag bag that’s right up front, people are just going from booth to booth picking up the swag. What do you want them to do when they get it back?
Sara Webb: [00:20:54] And the great thing about promotional products is it does not go in the trash. 89% percent of promotional products end up being either used by the individual or being passed on to somebody else that can use it. So, if I did not attend to show, and I picked up whatever item was was handed out, what do you want me who didn’t go to your booth to do with it next? And that’s why people call InTandem Promotions is that our focus is on ensuring that your brand, the connections that you’re trying to achieve, and that message is fully delivered to the client that you’re going after.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:36] Now, if somebody wants to learn more and have more substantive conversation with you, do you have a website?
Sara Webb: [00:21:41] I do. Definitely check us out online. It’s intandempromotions.com. Or they could reach out to us. We were on all of the social channels, including Facebook, and Instagram, and LinkedIn as well. And all of our contact and phone information is there.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:00] Well, Sara, thank you so much for sharing your story today and being a part of the show.
Sara Webb: [00:22:04] No, my pleasure. Thank you guys for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:07] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on GWBC Radio Open for Business.
About Your Host
Roz Lewis is President & CEO – Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®), a regional partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and a member of the WBENC Board of Directors.
Previous career roles at Delta Air Lines included Flight Attendant, In-Flight Supervisor and Program Manager, Corporate Supplier Diversity.
During her career she has received numerous awards and accolades. Most notable: Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 Diversity & Inclusion award; 2017 inducted into the WBE Hall of Fame by the American Institute of Diversity and Commerce and 2010 – Women Out Front Award from Georgia Tech University.
She has written and been featured in articles on GWBC® and supplier diversity for Forbes Magazine SE, Minority Business Enterprise, The Atlanta Tribune, WE- USA, Minorities and Women in Business magazines. Her quotes are published in The Girls Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business book by Susan Wilson Solovic and Guide Coaching by Ellen M. Dotts, Monique A. Honaman and Stacy L. Sollenberger. Recently, she appeared on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s BIZ on 11Alive, WXIA to talk about the importance of mentoring for women.
In 2010, Lewis was invited to the White House for Council on Women and Girls Entrepreneur Conference for the announcement of the Small Business Administration (SBA) new Women Owned Small Business Rule approved by Congress. In 2014, she was invited to the White House to participate in sessions on small business priorities and the Affordable Care Act.
Roz Lewis received her BS degree from Florida International University, Miami, FL and has the following training/certifications: Certified Purchasing Managers (CPM); Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD), Institute for Supply Management (ISM)of Supplier Diversity and Procurement: Diversity Leadership Academy of Atlanta (DLAA), Negotiations, Supply Management Strategies and Analytical Purchasing.
Connect with Roz on LinkedIn.
The Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC®) is at the forefront of redefining women business enterprises (WBEs). An increasing focus on supplier diversity means major corporations are viewing our WBEs as innovative, flexible and competitive solutions. The number of women-owned businesses is rising to reflect an increasingly diverse consumer base of women making a majority of buying decision for herself, her family and her business.
GWBC® has partnered with dozens of major companies who are committed to providing a sustainable foundation through our guiding principles to bring education, training and the standardization of national certification to women businesses in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.