In the Spotlight: Tact Squad


Twenty year old Tact Squad is a major player in the law enforcement uniform marketplace, successfully competing against others who have been around much longer. With rapid turnaround time and value pricing, their well-regarded product line is gaining favor with both the budget -conscious dealer and cash-strapped department. What's their secret? 

Tact Squad's Jeff Schlabowske, and Larry Billlik, Senior VP of Operations, trace their success to their biggest asset, one they've relied upon since the beginning. Find out what that is - and more, below: 

Tact Squad is a family-owned business. What's its backstory? 

Larry: The Tact Squad brand was the brainchild of a husband and wife team who saw a need for value-priced clothing. With his background in law enforcement and her knowledge of the manufacturing business, the company was born in 1999, mainly manufacturing security pants, jackets and shirts for dealers in California. The concept soon took off, and within a couple years, the business was operating out of a 2,000 foot facility, selling to dealers nation wide. Today, Tact Squad and its Corporate arm Amwear is housed in a 120,000 square foot installation, and is proud to service a dealer network throughout the country and beyond.

In 2015, you acquired United Uniform, a manufacturer best known for its tailored uniforms. That doesn't seem to fit with the value-price model of Tact Squad. 

Jeff: The purchase enabled us to expand our product offerings and take advantage of a niche name brand. United was known for its Class A uniforms and for doing made-to-order products in small numbers that others were unwilling to do. This gave the our brand balance and a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Much has changed since Tact Squad opened its doors. What's your take on it? 

Jeff: The consolidation of the dealer network has concentrated the market, which has helped departments take advantage of better pricing. But better pricing doesn't always result in better service, and this is where Tact Squad can have an edge.

Delivery, too, has become an issue with some manufacturers. Tact Squad works with a larger network of smaller distributors, and we're known for having a readily available product and that makes it more beneficial for the end user in the long run. 

Larry: The two biggest issues are delivery and price. Tact Squad holds about 1.6 million pieces of product at any given time. This gives us the ability to meet distributors needs more quickly, usually withing a 24 to 48 hour window. And we're value priced. We have the product, and it's going to cost less than our competitors. 

It's unusual to hold that much inventory these days. Does it concern you at all? 

Jeff: I like to have more product on hand because it sets me up against the competition who cannot deliver. In addition, our manufacturing structure is different from others, which enables quicker delivery. 

How so? 

Larry: We do not have to broker with anyone; we don't have to negotiate a time slot or price. We build it when we want to, and have complete control over the process which allows us to keep our pricing down. We manufacture the product in our own factories, and a couple of sister factories that we work with. In this way, we're able to pass the savings on to the customer. 

It's been our biggest asset since day one. 

When people hear value, they sometimes think inferior product. How do you strike a balance between value and providing quality, in-demand uniforms for today's law enforcement officer? 

Jeff: Even though we're value priced, by no means are we less quality. You can hold our products up against anyone in the space. Being a value-priced brand opens the door for opportunities when we promote at the dealer level. When they see anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent difference in pricing that raises an eyebrow for a distributor who is concerned about the bottom line. They can take these products to a budget-conscious end user, increasing the odds of making the sale. 

Let's talk about products. What's hot? What's new? 

Jeff: Our poly and poly/wool products from our Poly Flex and Pro Flex lines for law enforcement have really taken off this year. The Poly Flex shirts have a matching mesh underarm allowing for better ventilation. The Pro Flex line uses a proprietary poly/wool fabric with Lycra. Lycra tends to fade, but since it is woven into the fibers, you get the desired stretch and color retention that you wouldn't get with other wool blends. 

The new Versa Duty Jacket is a three in one jacket that can be worn as a shell, fleece-lined jacket or as a wind and waterproof, insulated jacket. It has a modern, updated look, in line with what today's law enforcement officer prefers. 

Given continuing industry consolidation and shrinking end user budgets, do you still see opportunity? 

Jeff: Without a doubt. We hear weekly from both the end user and distributor looking for better products. We also hear from those looking to open a business, those who work closely with local law enforcement; the embroiderers, dry cleaners and silk screeners who know first hand about the lack of service at the end user level. This creates opportunities for more distribution. But we're careful to vet each before making a determination about who joins our distributor network. 

Any final thoughts? 

Jeff: The fact that we manufacture our own products allows us to control costs and produce a better product, one that not only looks good, but that has the consistency – the uniformity - in color and everything else, demanded by the law enforcement community. This has been the reason for our success, and our biggest asset, from day one. 

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