Get to Know the ASI’s 2023 Supplier Entrepreneur of the Year William Lovelace

We are excited to announce that our founder and CEO William Lovelace has been honored with Supplier Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Advertising Speciality Institute. Out of thousands of promotional product suppliers, he was recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit through notable growth, including projected gross sales tracking about 18 million for 2023. We decided to sit down with Will and ask him about his journey to creating Diamondback Branding, what’s up next for the company, leadership tips and more.  View the article on ASI.

You started off in the world of customizing with Lovelace Custom Pens when you were in high school. What inspired you to do this?

I learned how to turn pens in woodshop class when I was 14. I have always enjoyed creating things and working with my hands. I discovered that I could sell the pens I made, which quickly led to more sales than units I could produce in woodshop class.

How much did the equipment cost? 

My initial investment into pen making equipment at home was around $2,000

What were you trying to accomplish? Ex. “how can we automate a business instead of running it the old-fashioned way”

I wanted to grow my skill from a hobby to a business. I started selling pens at fairs and festivals, I built and operated a fully functioning ecommerce store while in high school.  

You used to be a firefighter for the Artesia Fire Department in New Mexico. What were some life lessons you gained from that experience?

I learned the importance of teamwork, and hard work. Nothing in the fire serve is done alone. This gave me the skills and mindset to surround myself with intelligent and driven people. 

How many jobs were you working at the same time before starting Diamondback Branding? What was your day-to-day like?

I had 3 jobs. In 2012 when I started Diamondback Branding (originally Diamondback Engraving), I was a full time firefighter, a part time IT specialist and working on building the company with the majority of the time left.

You founded Diamondback Branding back in 2012. After 11 years, what has been rewarding and what has been challenging?

One of the most rewarding parts of building a company has been the flexibility in time I have with my family. In the past few years I have had much more time to attend school and sport functions with my kids, and work on personal projects with my family. Some of the most challenging times have been around Covid 19. From trying to understand safety precautions, navigating revenue loss, staffing shortages, supply shortages. 2020 was the hardest year I had at work. There were days I was not sure if the company was going to make it through. 

What drove you to want to get into the promo industry?

We entered into the promotional product industry organically. We were selling engraved products wholesale to distributors, sales people and retail stores about a year before officially entering into the promotional market as a supplier. 

What’s next for Diamondback Branding?

We will continue to grow and innovate. We are increasing our digital printing capacity this year, adding glass engraving and direct to film for totes and other new products. 

What are some leadership tips you have?

Create an environment where people can thrive with the unique skills they have. Embrace different ways of thinking, be open to new ideas. 

What are the projected sales for this year?

We are tracking around 18 million in gross sales for 2023.

How did you make Diamondback stand out from the other suppliers in your niche?

We started with premium and stuck to it. All of our equipment is digital and top of the line, we have no setup fees, and all inclusive pricing. We make a conscious effort to keep our product line premium including many well known retail brands. 

What are ways Diamondback Branding has put people before profit?

I believe people before profit is an operational mindset. Specifically, we donate thousands of units of drinkware and hundreds of coolers each year to nonprofits, schools and shelters. We have paid volunteer time for staff at least once a year. We give people opportunities where others may not, based on their past.