MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Uniform business keeps owners on the move
Retirement isn’t in the cards for Dayton couple
Bob Browne, 79, tried retirement, but it didn’t last long.
Instead, he has been running Allied Uniform Sales with his wife Patricia out of their Dayton home since 1991. Their business model is simple: Clients call with a request, Browne orders the uniforms wholesale, adds the appropriate logos and personally delivers the goods in his van.
As they sit at their dining room table, Bob Browne said the uniform business has been good to him. His 130 clients include many Carson City casinos and businesses in Reno.
His success, Browne said, comes down to one thing: Customer service.
“Selling is my forte,” he said. “If I tell a customer something, I deliver it. You build a business that way.”
Browne got his start in the uniform supply business in San Francisco in 1964 after owning a gas station for 10 years.
He ran Allied Uniform Rentals for 25 years until selling it in 1989. He and Patricia, who he married in 1986, moved to Dayton in 1991 so she could be closer to her parents.
Life in Dayton was different than in the city. Browne, a 49ers season ticket holder and not exactly an outdoorsman – he likes golf, just not playing it – found that his entertainment options were considerably fewer in his new home save for the nearby casinos.
Meanwhile, Browne kept getting calls from clients back in San Francisco, bemoaning the fact that their longtime business partner had left the region.
It didn’t take long until Browne decided to go back into business.
“You know, you gotta do something,” he said. “I enjoy being in business. I couldn’t sit around and do nothing.”
Patricia adds, “I don’t see him retiring ever.”
So 19 years later Browne still is running Allied Uniform Sales. He enjoys his days in the van, driving around the region to visit clients. He even got a new potential customer a few days ago when a business owner saw his advertisement posted on the side of his van.
“It’s a personal business and my customers like it because they see me all the time,” Browne said. “If a customer calls me up I’ll bring them a catalog, I’ll bring them samples. You know most companies can’t do this because they don’t have a way to do this.”
Meanwhile, Patricia Browne helps with the business, and even stitches patches on uniforms when requested.
Business still is doing well. Because they run it out of their home, “We underbid everybody because we have no overhead,” Browne said.
But fewer uniforms are being ordered as employers cut back on their payrolls or decide to forgo new uniforms.
“It’s been down in the past couple years on account of the economy,” Browne said.
“Instead of buying 250 or 300 shirts, they’re buying 100,” Patricia said.
But things still are going strong for the Brownes.
“It’s grown to be bigger than I thought it would,” Browne said. “I really though it was going to be a part time business, but it keeps me going pretty good.”
IF YOU GO
Allied Uniform Sales
Where: 602 Boulder Circle, Dayton