AmeriCap, a cap manufacturer run by Carl Qualls and his brother, Patrick, has made the caps for the event starting with President George Bush, the eight terms of Barack Obama and this year, the first egg roll to be held by President Trump.
The company is currently manufacturing the caps — 300 for volunteers and 1,460 for the children who will participate in the April 17 event on the White House lawn.
The contract came through one of the company’s longtime customers, the American Egg Board, which asked AmeriCap to manufacture them, Patrick said today.
“It’s something we look forward to doing every year,” he said. “Typically, the event is handled by the First Lady and her staff. It means a lot being an American manufacturer to be able make items for events at the White House.”
AmeriCap has been in business since 1989 when it was located in Sanford. The company moved to Enfield in 1995. “We’ve been here ever since,” Patrick said.
The White House designs the logo for the egg roll and sends it to AmeriCap, which digitizes the image for embroidery.
The White House is one of 2,000 to 3,000 customers the company has across the nation and globe.
Its domestic customers, Patrick said, “Range in the United States from the Coast Guard to the local hardware store.”
AmeriCap, which employs 50 people, makes hats for the Costa Rican Coast Guard and military units in Great Britain and Australia.
Its hats can be found at the Statue of Liberty gift shop and the 9-11 memorial as well as Air Force and Army recruiting stations. “The VFW is a big customer, the NRA is huge. We do a lot of business in the agricultural industry,” Patrick said.
The company has made caps for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as Seal Team 6, as well as teams 2 and 8.
With a new focus on American-made products across the nation, the company had its best year ever in 2016, Patrick said. “There was a decline from 1995 to 2008,” he said. “Now it has grown again.”
The decline can be traced to the quota restrictions on Chinese goods being lifted and the North American Free Trade Agreement opening up Mexican labor.
To battle that AmeriCap, Patrick said, reallocated personnel, opened up new markets and invested in new machinery and equipment. “The tide has turned. I think it started with the recession and the thinking if you buy something American you’re putting someone to work.”
Internet sales have allowed businesses to spend more on American labor and American workers and helped them to save margins. “You have to keep digging and keep trying. We could have stopped manufacturing and just imported all our hats from China, but we all have an allegiance to the ladies helping us get there that it wasn’t worth making a little more money at their expense.”
For Carl, the business philosophy is simple. “It’s just giving people jobs. It’s a great lifestyle working for yourself.”
Patrick is hopeful he will get a chance to go to the egg roll this year. Seeing people wearing the hats the company makes on the news is satisfying. “I feel patriotic. I love the job.”