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August 26, 2013 (Buffalo, N.Y.) – For nearly 30 years, Edward Sullivan steadily climbed the corporate ladder in the food industry until he stood solidly as a national vice president of a multi-billion dollar global company. Then the longtime Buffalo resident took a surprising leap: This month, Sullivan launched a hyper-local business in a totally different industry. On August 23, 2013 EmbroidMe opened its doors at 23 Lafayette Square, Suite 106 in Buffalo.
“My vision is to build a company that understands how to promote Buffalo, its companies, schools, teams, events, people, history and architecture,” said Sullivan. “I am passionate about our city, and I want to use this company to give back by instilling pride in Buffalo and helping it to grow.”
Sullivan acknowledges that there are a number of companies selling Buffalo-themed products. But he feels that two factors give him a competitive edge: First, his business is a franchise of the world’s largest promotional products company: EmbroidMe. The significant buying power, and training and marketing support he receives from the international franchise system is unparalleled. Second, his focus on service, quality and community involvement is incredibly strong.
“Many businesses promote Buffalo-themed products to make money,” he said. “I want to make money so that I can promote Buffalo. This is what I want to do with the rest of my working life.”
Sullivan’s passion for the city is revealed in all of the choices he made when launching the business, which helps other organizations brand themselves and make an impression by customizing marketing products that feature a name, image, logo or message. He chose a location in the heart of downtown, in the historic Brisbane Building on Lafayette Square. Even the artwork on his walls features beauty shots of Buffalo.
The St. Bonaventure alum spends his spare time as a volunteer tour guide with Buffalo Tours. He and his wife, Lynn Marie, a teacher and curriculum development specialist in the Hamburg Central School System are also collaborating on a Buffalo-centric project for students. The Orchard Park couple is developing a program to teach children about the city’s history and architecture.
“Tight budgets have forced many school districts to eliminate such an important activity for our children,” he said. “We will provide funding toward the cost of the tours. Our curriculum will align with the history children will experience on their downtown Buffalo tour, and we will give it to schools that want to participate.”
Sullivan plans to grow his new business quickly, and hopes soon to add more employees and produce a larger volume and broader array of in-house product offerings. Many might consider that ambitious for a start-up. But Sullivan believes that leveraging decades of success with business-to-business marketing and sales, coupled with the strength of EmbroidMe—which, he says, has the strongest and most professional image and support program in the industry—make his goals absolutely achievable.
His determination is indisputable, and his investment echoes it. He and his wife bypassed debt financing, opting instead to invest their life savings to launch the EmbroidMe franchise.
“This business is my retirement plan now,” said Sullivan. “It is a big risk; but we believe in Buffalo, and we’ll find a way to make it great.”
With more than 300 locations in 12 countries, EmbroidMe currently has eight locations in New York and expects further expansion in the market, with plans to open 15 franchised units in the greater New York City area within 3-5 years.
Nationwide, EmbroidMe plans to open 70 new resource centers through the remainder of the 2013, reaching 500 locations worldwide by the end of 2016. For more information, please visit www.embroidme.com
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