First Avenue Supplies in Bletchley Milton Keynes celebrated 20 years in business last month. 

The garment decoration company marked the occasion with an open day where customers and friends were treated to a gourmet barbecue and drinks.

The First Avenue Team also ran demonstrations on the company’s fleet of embroidery machines and filled the street with a classic car display. Giveaway gift packs packs were supported by Beeswift, Portwest, Tee Jays, Regatta, BTC Activewear, Leo Workwear, Kustom Kit and Russell Clothing.

The company was started in 2003 by Ian Temple, with son Scott Temple recruited in 2005. Ian retired from his role as managing director this year, leaving Scott to take up the position. He is supported by newly appointed sales director Calum Jackson.

“I recently read an article in Images magazine about a workwear company that was celebrating 20 years in business and felt I wanted to shake the individual’s hand!” said Scott.

“Anyone in our line of work will have up most respect for any independent that’s stood the test of time in this line of work as it’s certainly not easy. I don’t mind admitting we had some really tough times in the early days, but we needed those times to learn and align ourselves in the right direction. 

“If you’re running embroidery and print machines as your main income you really need to live it and enjoy it. If you’re running machines with an aim of an easy 9 to 5 job then I would advise another line of work! 

“I live it and love it, we push hard 100% of the time and never sit back and that’s the way you’ve got to be. It’s a passion as well as a job for me. A big sale is greeted with a high five, an important deadline is met with a late night’s work.  

“Views may differ, of course, but for us personally the biggest turning point over the last 20 years was when we turned our focus to quality clothing product over basic product. It’s easy to fill your time running cheap T-shirts through an embroidery machine, but you need to ask yourself if that’s paying the bills. 

“We had been supplying basic product for fourteen years in line with those around us, but there was a point six years ago where I realised customers wanted proper clothing that lasted and in with that we could gain a higher invoice value out of a day’s work on an embroidery machine that then allows you to make a living. 

“I had been given a box of TeeJays’ clothing samples from BTC Activewear and it was the first product that had wowed me for a long time. This was the quality level I knew our customers wanted and so we installed a full wall of TeeJays’ clothing in our shop. The range was an instant hit and completely reinvented our business, and from a personal perspective is the best business decision I have ever made without doubt. I believe we have run the range in the UK longer than any other workwear company and this is now our sixth year of continued growing sales with TeeJays. It’s satisfied the demand for quality and in the process paid for the decoration time.”

He added: “It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but we are confident in our position and work to our strengths. I look forward to another 20 years, at which point I really do hope that is my son and daughter sat in my position and keeping up the fight for independent family businesses.”