Business Profile | Jeff Adams

October 2014 View more

Jeff Adams, CEO of S&S Activewear, for Naperville Magazine

Company Profile

S&S Activewear LLC
Type of Business:
National wholesaler to the promotional apparel market
Corporate Headquarters:
Bolingbrook, IL
Company Size:
500-1,000 employees
Privately Held

Active and sporty clothing has seen steady growth in the past decade, from corporate branded apparel, to customized t-shirts and promotional clothing for community events. Servicing this growing demand is Bolingbrook-based S&S Activewear, a national wholesaler to the promotional apparel market, with more than 60 brands ranging from basic garments, to fashion-forward styles, it is the industry’s largest single location supplier. Naperville Magazine talked with Jeff Adams, CEO and co-owner of S&S Activewear, about the company’s growing warehouse footprint and the hottest trends in the apparel industry.

S&S Activewear has more than doubled its warehouse footprint with several acquisitions of apparel companies across the U.S. since 2010, including the recent purchase of the Americana Company in Santa Fe Springs, California, and Eva Tees in New Jersey – now covering the East coast and the West coast. What’s behind this business strategy?

The business goal (behind the purchase of additional apparel companies) is to reach the most populous areas of the U.S. with our products within a one or two-day transit time. Getting our products to our customers fast is just as important to us as it is to our customers. Service is a major contributing factor to our sales growth over the past several years.

S&S Activewear has several apparel product lines available including t-shirts, fleece, sports shirts, hats, bags performance apparel and uniforms. What is your most popular product line?

Our most popular product lines are basic t-shirts and sweatshirts manufactured by brands such as Gildan, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom.

Technology seems to be impacting nearly every business, especially the retail industry. What has been the most significant change in the apparel business in the past 5-10 years and how has S&S Activewear adapted to this change?

The advent of the corporate apparel market and the e-retail segment including ecommerce, have been the most significant changes recently in the apparel business. We ensure that our website is easy-to-use for ordering, we provide selling tools for our customers such as customizable websites and digital catalogs, and we consistently ensure that we are shipping the final product in the best and fastest way possible.

Where do you see the biggest growth potential for your company?

We see the biggest growth potential in the areas of e-retail and corporate promotion. Fortunately, these are areas and markets where we have already seen a lot of success. So, we are hoping to continue to grow and expand in these areas.

Material for clothing and apparel has changed over the years ranging from wool and cotton to synthetic fibers. What are some of the hottest new trends in the apparel business?

Performance products are very popular these days. Customers are demanding moisture-wicking polyester that is comfortable and breathable. In addition, lighter-weight and ultra-soft cottons and poly/cotton blended fabrics in casual apparel are also in high demand.

With so many options available across the Midwest to locate your company headquarters, what makes the western suburbs such an attractive location for your business base?

What’s attractive to the Bolingbrook area is the availability of large distribution centers with very high ceiling clearance for warehouse inventory. Also, the emerging and growing southwest suburban labor market is a big plus.

Being CEO and co-owner of a major apparel wholesaler in a competitive marketplace is a demanding job. What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivates you to come into the office? 

The enormous potential for future growth and our very talented and motivated management team and work force.

Photo by Mike Hudson