Creative roots

Sunday, December 31, 2006

BRADENTON, Fla. - For years, provider Alan Cross has driven past the beach on his way to work and thought, "One day, I'm going to set up shop there and sell T-shirts and ice cream."
Fed up by an increasingly unattractive Medicare landscape, Cross, who co-owns C&C Homecare with his wife, Joan, made part of that dream a reality recently, when the couple launched Florida Promotions Unlimited. Through the new side business, the Crosses screen-print and embroider custom T-shirts and nearly everything else--mugs, bags and even Frisbees.
"Now, all I need is the beach and the ice cream," Alan Cross said.
The Crosses have taken pleasure in the dichotomy between selling HME and T-shirts. While both businesses have their operational challenges, payment's almost always an issue with the former and almost never an issue with the latter.
"People actually pay us for the product they're getting," Alan Cross said. "We're not used to that."
Sometimes the two businesses go hand-in-hand. During a recent healthcare-related charitable event, Florida Promotions Unlimited provided custom jerseys for one of the teams in a two-on-two basketball tournament.
In the future, the Crosses also plan to work with the local heart and lung associations to provide T-shirts for various community awareness events, such as walk-a-thons and marathons.
The Crosses handle smaller orders--up to two dozen T-shirts--in-house and outsource larger orders to major manufacturers. With the help of two local artists, they'll even create logos.
Alan Cross, who used to work in public relations and marketing for a hospital, has enjoyed returning to his creative roots.
"I don't think it's going to make us rich or anything," he said. "But it's a real nice change of speed."