Relationships Matter: Why SanMar Puts People Over Profits

When Pat Noonan left the Navy, he wasn’t sure where he’d end up next. “I had a lot of angst about where my private sector motivation would come from,” he says. “The idea of joining a company and figuring out how to make more money was about the least inspiring thing I could think of.” 

But then Pat came across SanMar. “It had a genuine family atmosphere, and a culture of doing the right thing, telling the truth, being nice, and acting in service to its customers,” he says. “All of these things resonated with me, and they’re authentically who the company is.”

As luck would have it, more than 12 years after Pat joined the company, he’s now the chief product officer (CPO), tasked with overseeing the entire product lifecycle, from merchandising and sourcing, to global quality and logistics. And more than a decade later, he says, it’s those authentic values that keep him motivated. “If you really care about service and make that your North Star, the business takes care of itself,” he says. “You’re going to grow. You’re going to be profitable. Customers are going to choose you over other suppliers, because you truly care about servicing them.”

Operating in service to his community is integral to Pat’s role as the CPO. In an industry where poor labor practices are rampant, his standards remain respectfully high. “I always say my litmus test is I want to be able to walk into any of our factories with our customers or my family in tow and feel comfortable showing them what’s going on,” Pat says. “Those are the kind of facilities we’re committed to working with.”

Because SanMar values partnerships over profits, Pat views work with factories as more than transactional. “It’d be easy to send an order to a factory, then bury our heads in the sand and say, ‘I’m not going to pay close attention,’” Pat says. But SanMar takes the opposite approach. On-site global quality staff at each facility ensure production is up to par, and a rigorous system run by SanMar’s compliance department requires factories to pass a stringent social responsibility audit. “We want to ensure factories are paying appropriate wages, not violating any labor laws, have good security practices in place, and are respecting workers’ rights,” Pat says.

Pat’s grateful to have found a place to put his service-first mentality to work. “At SanMar, if you’re committed to the culture and service, you’re trusted to figure out the tactical details. When you’re committed to something more than dollars and cents, and when you’re finding value, importance, and meaning in your work, it’s really powerful.”

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