Meet the Team: Interview With President of Sales Jason Buchanan

This year has brought with it a lot of changes, including to some of the biggest suppliers in the industry. One such update is the hiring of Jason Buchanan, now President of Sales at Next Level Apparel. Because it’s such a recognizable brand in the promo industry, we wanted to sit down with Buchanan to pick his brain on what made him want to join the Next Level Apparel family and what other exciting changes we can expect from them in the near future.

Jason Buchanan

It’s nice to meet you, Jason! How have you been holding up this year?
Nice to meet you too! I think we can both agree that 2020 has been a year none of us ever expected. I believe one of the most powerful tools in life is our daily attitude, and the best part about that, is our attitude is totally in our control. So, how am I holding up? I am GREAT!

Welcome to the Next Level Apparel team! Would you be able to tell us a little about your new role and what your primary responsibilities are?
I joined Next Level Apparel as the President of Sales. My role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business across many functional areas. I will primarily be focused on the commercial strategy leading our sales organization while working closely with marketing and operations to ensure that we continue to provide the best products and services to our customers.

What was your experience before joining Next Level Apparel? Have you always worked in the promo space?
My career has taken me through many different industries from Telecom with Verizon and Pharma with Cardinal Health, but the last dozen years or so have been in the promotional industry. I spent over 11 years with alphabroder with almost half of that time in an executive leadership role, and then the last two years I was with JiffyShirts.com. The cool part of my career history is that it’s presented me the opportunity to learn from many great leaders across a wide spectrum of industries. The common threads of success with each organization I’ve been with is those companies were great at focusing on providing solutions to their customers that met a defined need, they empowered their employees to make decisions, and they created cultures of accountability.

What made you want to join Next Level Apparel? What aspects of the company and brand grabbed your interest?
Next Level Apparel is a well-known brand in the industry that has developed products of great quality. Their reputation and history are what grabbed my attention:

1. NLA invests in a strong inventory position.
2. They have a “do what is right” mentality.
3. It was developed from entrepreneurial passion. I had the privilege of knowing Joe and Eric over the years, and with the team members I met during the interview process, it was clear to me that the culture was a great fit for me.

What are you most excited about working on at Next Level Apparel, or what has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on thus far?
Well, I’m in my third week, so there’s still a lot of core learning happening on a daily basis. However, that’s what makes it fun! The most exciting part for me so far has been two-fold. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the wonderful people we have working here at NLA. There are so many shining stars in our business! Secondly, reconnecting with many friends and making new friends at our distribution partners in this new capacity has been awesome.

From your vantage point as President of Sales, what do you foresee for the future of the promo apparel industry in the coming year? What about 5 years ahead?
This is where attitude yields altitude. I personally see the industry recovering in a better position than before. With the challenges presented by COVID-19, everyone was forced to take a hard look at their business and make tough decisions. Those decisions will yield great results in the very near future. I am very optimistic that what we’re seeing as strong performance in Q3 and Q4 is an indication the industry is already headed in the right direction. I see 2021 as a strong year for the industry overall. For me, I’m excited the 2020 norms of virtual calls, virtual meetings, etc. have really escalated the trajectory of digital content and strategy across the promotional industry. With the help of our marketing team I’m excited to focus on those areas here at NLA.

What advice would you give to distributors selling Next Level Apparel products? What selling points or features do you think are most important to emphasize this year?
When I look at all of the great distributors out there, I’m always super impressed with their success. They’re the ones that make it happen for all of us. My advice to selling Next Level products is really simple – let your customers try our product. They’ll want to wear it.

Without spilling any confidential secrets, can you tell us what exciting plans Next Level Apparel has in store for 2021 and beyond?
We’re continuing to expand our business, whether through increased production capabilities, enhanced distribution facilities or new distribution partnerships; we’re focused on having the products you want when you want them. We’ll continue to bring new and exciting collections to the industry. Most importantly, we want to hear from our customers on how we can help them succeed.