A CIS supporter since 2004, Edwards Garment is a business rich in Kalamazoo history, having been a part of the community since 1867 when the Rosebaum family began producing pants for men and boys out of the Rosebaum building. The company has morphed and grown throughout the years to become what we know
today as Edwards Garment. It is an interesting bit of trivia to note that the name of the company is not a family, but is inspired by Edwards Street, the side street in downtown Kalamazoo which the old Rosenbaum building shares with Michigan Avenue.
Today, Edwards Garment is a leading specialty image apparel and uniform supplier for men’s and women’s clothing. Their headquarters are located on South 9th Street and they employ 185 individuals from the greater Kalamazoo area. This school year, Edwards Garment donated almost 500 brand spanking new polos that CIS Site Coordinators were able to distribute to students! We recently popped in on Gary Schultz, President and CEO of Edwards Garment and had him take our pop quiz. He passed with flying colors.
Why does Edwards Garment choose to support kids through CIS?
We believe developing our youth is central to helping us thrive as a business. CIS helps address multiple issues that help kids. I’m increasingly realizing that if you don’t start in the early years of education, then the chances of a child catching up down the road are less and less. As a business person, I’m always looking for people with strong skill sets, who are employable, who will come to work on time, who will get out of bed to come to work even on days when they don’t feel like getting up for whatever reason. We are dependent upon our schools for turning out students who make excellent employees.
Our business has always committed time and financial resources for causes—but in the last few years, Edwards Garment has been focusing on organizations whose mission supports youth. We want to put our time and resources into organizations that make the greatest impact. We like how CIS goes beyond the academic and touches multiple parts of a student’s world, the barriers they face to being a successful student—those things outside the classroom that impact what goes on in the classroom. The scope of the problem is great but the breadth of the supports CIS can provide is large in scope as well. By supporting CIS, Edwards Garment is helping to address the bigger picture. Our community thrives when kids thrive. Kids are our future.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
I try to learn something new each day. I’m brushing up on what I know about 401K plans as we are trying to help our employees plan more for retirement. People don’t necessarily know how to go about that. We need to help people plan more and educate them on the importance of plans after retirement.
What are you currently reading?
Mostly magazines and newspapers. While I enjoy novels I find myself reading mostly business related books. Recently, I’ve been digesting the book, “A Sense of Urgency” by John Kotter. It’s about trying to get businesses to be more attentive to get things done, earlier, faster and more efficiently.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
As I progress through my career I realize this is what I have aspired to. And I’m doing it! Running a business of this size with a specific culture. Honestly, I feel blessed that I’m doing what I’m doing.
When I eventually retire I want to stay active. I still want to be involved in the business. I won’t retire in the sense of becoming docile because I’m the kind of person who wants to constantly learn new things.
What is your favorite word right now?
Favorite word, huh? On a professional level, I’d say engagement. Just trying to get people more mentally involved with and committed to what our business is trying to do.
That’s interesting you say engagement. That word speaks to our vision at CIS, an engaged community where every child fulfills his or her promise. So what is your favorite word on the personal side?
On the personal side, my favorite word is gratitude. Gratitude in the sense of appreciating my circumstances. I have three healthy kids, all graduated from college, and things are going pretty well. I’m thankful for all of that.
Will you share with us something that has been on your mind lately?
I’ve had a few things on my mind. I’m trying to help make a difference, in a variety of ways. I want to grow and strengthen the relationships with my distributors and show them their impact on the company. So you can see we were here but now we’re here. But really, just trying to have an impact and change to make things better. This not only applies to my business, but also in my personal life and in the community.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
My parents, of course. Neither of my parents went to college, yet they had high expectations for their two sons. They drilled into me at an early age that I needed to obtain my college degree.
I’d also have to add that I had a number of caring teachers in junior high who pushed me. They knew when I needed pushing, and they set the bar a bit higher than I set it for myself. I remember this one teacher. I wrote a paper for her class, and she gave me a lower grade than I expected. I thought it was unfair and told her so. “Well,” she said, “I just expect more out of you. That is why I’m grading you differently than others.” Looking back, I see how her actions and her words were less of a penalty and more of a motivation. This teacher, as did some others, saw something in me more than I saw in myself.
Thanks you, Gary, for taking time to take our “pop quiz” and thank you and everyone at Edwards Garment for supporting students through Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo!