August Apparel News Article
Apparel News

hen you decide to leave a highly paid position in a well-established, well-financed company to start up your own venture, as did Cort Johnson and Darryl Rudnick, you may have a few misgivings, some second thoughts, a pair of slightly chilled feet. “People thought I was an idiot,” Johnson recalls. “Why would I leave?” In such a situation, you might look to the heavens for some sign that you’ve done the right thing, and Johnson and Rudnick probably did exactly that the day they started their new company, called TagTime USA. That day was September 10, 2001.
   “We left a $300 million company to find out the world had changed,” Johnson remembers. “I doubted the move 50 seconds out of every minute that first year. It was very
   The company Johnson and Rudnick had left was the trim powerhouse RVL Inc., which was acquired a year and a half later by the $7.8 billion giant Avery, which earlier in 2007 purchased Paxar, a $1 billion company specializing in the same business—“the top three in the world, all in one company.” Johnson, who had been vice president of sales for RVL and an employee since he was 27, and Rudnick, who had run product development, suspected that this new mega-company, the largest apparel label and tag company in the world—“a very large ship”—would become difficult to move and “it would lose that competitive edge, the trendy side,” Johnson explains. “The market was looking all the time for quick turn, quick

TagTime Factories
TagTime USA’s factory in China produces every type of trim imaginable including labels,tags,patches, and transfers.

fulfillment, great design. We thought if we came out with a small company that was design-oriented, trendy, edgy, it would be as successful as RVL had been when it first started. That’s the niche we knew we could go after .”
   As strange fortune would have it, Johnson and Rudnick had picked a nearly perfect time for their start-up. As the initial shock of 9/11 subsided and the markets settled down, says Johnson, “people wanted to start fresh again, they wanted new designs for their products. TagTime was highly focused on design at that time. We were a nice option—a new face in a new era.”
  TagTime USA has never looked back. Today, the Los Angeles–based company, which has offices throughout the United States as well as a vast global presence, boasts 480 employees, eight designers, and a production capacity of 20 million labels per day. All product is custom-made, and while the majority of samples are produced in Los Angeles at the company’s 22,000- square-foot facility, production is mainly done overseas. TagTime Asia, headquartered in Hong K ong and overseen by 26-year industry veteran Mr. Elkie Li, supports its own 140,000-square-foot factory in Dong Guan, China, a new 110,000-square-foot factory in Vietnam, and satellite support offices in India, South Korea, and El Salvador. Connected by global data channels, all of TagTime’s facilities are linked to the same servers, affording customers instant communication.
   TagTime produces every type of trim product imaginable, from woven and printed labels, hangtags, leather, rubber, synthetic, and embroidered patches, heat transfers, pocket flashers, stickers, lenticular products, metal items such as buttons and charms, identity threads, security seals, packaging, and a range of hand-crafted items.

TagTIme Cort Johnson & Darryl RudnickCort Johnson and Darryl Rudnick founded TagTime USA the day before 9/11.

Clients are a who’s who of apparel notables, including Guess, Patagonia, Ecko, Under Armour, Tommy Bahama, Ashworth, Enyce, Nike, Warnaco, American Eagle, Lucky Brand, Sean John, iT Jeans, Chip & Pepper, and Nordstrom.
    Art-driven and cutting-edge, TagTime understands well that brand identity can lend an advantage in a tough market, and “trim draws people to the apparel piece,” Johnson says. “We are pushing the edge on trim development.” While “design is the nucleus” of the business, Johnson explains, “the heart and soul is the strength of our Asian and other offshore operations, customer service, and product development.” Domestic as well as offshore production ownership has allowed TagTime to do “for pennies and in days” processes that used to cost dollars and take a month. Cost savings aside, “probably the thing that made our success is our delivery times,”
    Johnson says. “Others have four to six weeks, we have two-week delivery because we own our facilities.” A little over 80 percent of all product, and 100 per cent of the leather work, is produced in-house. One area of tremendous gro wth for TagTime is the highly in-demand heat-transfer process, from labels to glitter and nailheads and other embellishments. TagTime recently purchased a heat-transfer factory and promptly moved it to its China factory.
TAGTIME FactoryRows of looms produce a wide variety of products for TagTime USA.
Johnson credits much of the team’s early success to the presence of other former RVL employees, including the design director, sales staff, and indispensable COO Mindy Knox, “our third employee after us.” With their chancy move of six years ago now paying off handsomely, Johnson and Rudnick continue to push forward. “I’m always think- ing,” admits Johnson, who traveled 364,000 miles last year alone in search of new ways to improve TagTime’s performance and stimulate its global growth. “We always say that our design and innovation gets us in the door, our product and consistent quality gets us the business, and our customer service keeps it.”

4601 District Blvd.,Vernon, CA 90058 USA
Toll Free: (866) TAG-TIME
Phone: (323) 587-1555; Fax: (323) 587-0555

We are pushing the edge on trim development. Design is the nucleus of the business ... the heart and soul is the strength of our Asian and other offshore operations.