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The Frank Doolittle Co. — made in America

By: 23 March 2011 2 Comments

While there are more than a few American companies willing to wave the flag and proclaim their patriotism, how many times is that banner manufactured in another country?

The Frank Doolittle Co. of Bellevue, Wash., is more than a bit different in that regard. Why? The 12-person company, essentially, buys American-made products and customizes them with logos, emblems and whatever else its clients order. Baseball caps, watches, coffee mugs, shirts and other items are customized to order and, according to vice president Lori Gartner, were primarily manufactured by American, unionized companies.

Gartner said the company has remained competitive in terms of price and has grown into “a multi million dollar company” since it was started by its namesake in 1986. The corporation is closely held and, as such, is not compelled to release its financial reports to the public.

Gartner said their is a misconception that it’s difficult to find American-made items as manufacturers have abandoned facilities in the U.S. to countries such as China that offer inexpensive labor costs. She said there are still plenty of items made in the U.S. — companies simply have to go out of their way to look for them.

The Frank Doolittle Co. counts on “dozens” of American-based manufacturers to supply it with products. Gartner said her company is a bit different in that it has avoided the temptation to reduce the bottom line by looking at foreign manufacturers. Most of the company’s clients are labor unions that would frown on the corporation if it abandoned U.S. workers to save a few bucks here and there.

“They value and demand a USA made — preferably a union made — product,” Gartner said of the company’s clients.

Gartner said Frank Doolittle’s products will rarely be the least expensive on the block, but dismissed the notion that American made products can’t be competitive in terms of price.

“In a lot of ways, USA made products can be competitive. A lot of people don’t think that,” she said. “Some companies are going to be the cheapest … and we’re not.”

Regardless, Gartner said she hopes American consumers won’t be deterred by slightly higher prices regardless of what they buy. She said the U.S. manufacturing industry could — at full capacity — make a significant economic impact and hopes people will consider that when shopping.

“We could have more American factories making things and supporting their local, state and national economies,” she said.

Gartner said her company is unionized and has managed to find ways to stay competitive and profitable.

“It’s about the choices you make as an employer. It can work and it has worked for us,” she said.

Gartner said the company seeks out other businesses that have found a way to make the union concept work. For example, it ships all of its products through UPS because that company is also unionized.

Gartner said the Frank Doolittle company’s strategy has worked well — define who your customer base is, develop that niche market and provide what it wants and needs. That’s been a winning formula for the company for about 25 years.

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About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =


  • Paul F Blaski said:

    When Frank Doolittle opened his company, I worked for one of the first Unions to buy from him. He would always tell people that Paul Blaski at Roofers Local #54 was one of the first to buy from him. The company always did very well for me and our members. Keep up the good work.

  • Jennifer Banks said:

    I am happy to see more products being American made! I buy all of my eco-friendly products from Enviroproductsworld which are made in America!

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