Our Story

iCoStore was founded in 2002, just as the internet was starting to change the world. New industries were popping up. Old ones were dying. Back then, the first iPhone was still five years out. Blockbuster Video was going strong, the first iPod had just been released and you still needed to call your travel agent to book a flight, hotel or rental car. Facebook and YouTube didn’t exist. This was the beginning of a major paradigm shift—not only in business, but in our daily lives.

Three years earlier, iCoStore founder, Tom Meissner, was designing and producing corporate golf products. He decided to build online company stores so his reps could sell their apparel and more of his products. His reps liked the early stores, but they needed to offer smaller quantities of apparel without stocking a large inventory. Tom had just started an embroidery company to decorate his golf bags, so he wondered if he could decorate apparel on demand.

Combining online stores with on-demand decoration made sense. But automating it and doing it efficiently would be a challenge. The technology didn’t exist—yet.

Build it, and they will come

When Tom first explained his idea to industry veterans in 2000, they said he could never make money decorating one shirt at a time. They were correct—if he worked within the traditional inventory-based model. But Tom wanted to transcend that model entirely by creating revolutionary technology and combining it with his ground-breaking On-Demand decoration process.

In 2004, Tom hired Kirk Howell, a college friend and longtime technology consultant, to build the platform he’d envisioned. Kirk loved the concept and bought into iCoStore.

Though annual sales were just $100,000, Tom and Kirk had faith in their plan. Over the next two years, they invested almost $1 million dollars into building and perfecting the system. They worked closely with apparel suppliers and accepted hundreds of small orders every day. Tom’s embroidery company decorated the apparel in house.

Early on, most suppliers didn’t even have digital images of their entire product line, which made it challenging to take orders electronically. Despite the roadblocks, Tom and Kirk pushed forward and built the most nuanced, robust system on the market.


A disruptive vision in a traditional industry

Over the next decade, iCoStore continued to refine its technology, streamline its systems and processes and develop a growing client base. The company’s goals were both revolutionary and simple:

  • Build stores that give small- to mid-sized companies the selection and service normally reserved for Fortune 500 companies
  • Build a secure and stable platform that could grow to $100M+
  • Integrate all facets of the business: web stores, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), product management, production flow, decoration, merchandising, reporting and shipping
  • Have online orders flow through production and decoration with minimal touches
  • Be able to build, merchandise and launch new stores in less than 48 hours
  • Offer a large selection of name-brand JIT items for men and women—with no minimums, no risks and no waste
  • Offer multiple payment, shipping, reporting and budgeting options
  • Empower employees to provide great service—and Do the right thing for all customers

As iCoStore grew, it moved into a 32,000 square-foot facility that housed its technology, decoration, warehouse and fulfillment operations under one roof. Tom’s vision had become a reality. iCoStore can process large orders and it can decorate one shirt at a time.


iCoStore Today

Today, iCoStore has expanded beyond the original vision of on-demand embroidered apparel.  The evolution of digital printing and expanded demand, iCoStore decorates promotional items on-demand using lasers and UV printers and has a large print center to print business cards, fliers, envelopes and more. iCoStore now integrates directly with most of its suppliers, pulling live inventory into its stores and automating its blank goods purchases.  iCoStore has also integrated with many of its customers to provide a seamless experience for its employees.

iCoStore is in the top 1% of promotional products distributors nationwide and runs over 150 online company stores ranging from $250,000 to $3M+. It is part of the Peernet group, which is the premier buying group in the industry, representing over $400M in spend.  The decoration facility and technology have significant capacity to grow with the unique systems that have been developed in-house to decorate thousands of small and large orders every day. iCoStore is still located in Tempe, AZ—near its original location—and Tom is still leading the company. He has bought out his partners and fully owns the company. You can pick up the phone and call him. He will be happy to discuss programs or the industry and will propose a solution that works for you.

iCoStore has grown and revolutionized the industry, but its original vision, core values and straightforward goals have not changed. They are still at the core of the business.

Ready to Elevate Your Brand With On-Demand Merchandise, No Minimums And No Inventory?

Contact Us Today for a Consultation and Experience the iCoStore Difference!