By Mark Ramos
After having a couple of back surgeries and a 20-plus year career at the postal service as a mailman, Joe McDonald figured that hopping on and off mail trucks wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to work with people, McDonald had seen workers around the postal offices who were licensed by the U.S. government to equip the postal service with uniforms.
He thought to himself, “I could do that.”
“When he started working with another outfit, he quickly realized that they weren’t paying him his full commission so he ventured out on his own,” said Dan McDonald, son of Joe and now president and CEO of McDonald Uniforms.
Venturing out on his own meant the business got off the ground at Joe’s home in Rhawnhurst in 1973. So, Dan jumped in to help his old man wherever he could.
“I’m a 13-year-old kid living in his house at that point,” Dan said. “He just started and by being there I was part of it, whether that was intentional or not. I answered phones, received packages, that sort of thing. He [Joe] never dreamt that it would be this success story that it is today. He was just looking for extra income.”
After high school,Dan realized college wasn’t for him after trying out some night classes. In 1978, he found himself on Jewelers Row working in the jewelry business before one pivotal conversation with his father would set him on his current path.
“We were having dinner one night and I am just shaking my head, saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t think the jewelry business is for me.’ So he says, ‘Well, if you want to give this stuff a-go, have at it. Here’s where I go, you can go everywhere else,’ “ Dan said.
“Everywhere else” meant Trenton, Delaware and South Jersey for Dan, but as an 18-year-old kid looking to find his way, he figured he’d make the one-hour drive all over the Delaware Valley. McDonald hasn’t looked back since that dinner conversation with his dad.
“It was a great ride and still is, we’re still going strong,” McDonald said. “We’re very conscientious, we provide a product and service to the people that provide a service to us. The postal service, law enforcement, firefighters, rescue people, that’s what we do for them. That’s our motto here.”
Service remains the key word in all that McDonald Uniforms, 3019 Darnell Road in the Far Northeast, has to offer. Afterall, Joe McDonald was a uniform man most of his life. From serving on a Navy vessel during World War II to working for the postal service for decades, uniforms were an essential piece to the service he provided others in his life. Today, Dan and another generation of McDonalds are taking the business to next steps to continue growth for the business.
“We have a large postal business we do mainly online now,” Dan said. “We will ship to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska, all 50 states we’re licensed and permitted to sell. We break our business into public safety and postal business. Public safety has under its umbrella police, fire, medical, security, they’re all the types of uniforms we would deal with. We have a partnership with FOP Lodge #5 that started 25 years ago. They had a shop in their location on Spring Garden Street and wanted to provide a better service to their members so we had our uniforms there on a consignment basis. Anytime they call on us and we can be of assistance to them, we proudly support them, likewise the firefighters union.”
With a staff of 20 people across sales, shipping and receiving, and even an alterations department that will put all the patches and stripes onto the uniforms for the police and firefighters, everyone is trained at McDonald’s Uniforms to keep the standard that Joe set all those years ago.
“We’re only as good as the service we provide,” Dan said. “What brings our customers coming back is attentiveness and an understanding of what our customers do and the demands that are put on them.” ••