Originally from a small town in New Hampshire, Tammy Wisell, Owner of Ad-Wiz Specialties, moved with her family to South Florida when she was still in high school. She remained in the Lauderhill area and spent the majority of her professional career with two different companies that both provided employment for the disabled in the advertising and promotional products industry. In 2017, Wisell and her husband bought an RV and permanently “docked” it in Grant, FL, just south of Melbourne. From that point on, they fell in love with the area and spent weekends and holidays enjoying the friendlier nature of Brevard County. By 2018, Wisell began working remotely which not only allowed them to spend more time in their RV, but also laid the foundation for Wisell’s business.
“When I resigned in 2019, I knew it was possible to work remotely and that we’d eventually want to live here full-time,” she said. “I had so much experience in the advertising and promotional products space that starting this type of business was a natural fit. Leaving my job was nerve racking, but exciting at the same time.”
Despite her experience and knowledge of the industry, Wisell started Ad-Wiz Specialties from the ground up. On the operational side of things, there existed a tremendous learning curve, but also a labor of love.
“I remember telling my husband three weeks into it that I didn’t know how much I didn’t know,” Wisell said. “Along those lines, the biggest challenge when I first launched the business was overcoming the fear of failure, not knowing certain things and learning how to figure them out. It continues to be a work in progress. Nevertheless, I love this industry and I’m excited about growing my business.”
Wisell works within a network of over 3,000 promotional products suppliers and decorators to offer her clients the best products at the best prices. What sets her company apart from other promotional products businesses is her attention to detail, experience in the industry and level of customer service.
“We are not one of those companies that you can just jump online and order the same old stuff that everyone else has,” she said. “I personally talk with each client. We plan for each project. We look at the best way to use that product, the best printing options as well as colors, logos etc. I see every order through from start to finish, keeping you updated the whole way. I want every one of my clients to get their order, open their box, and say ‘wow’.”
Wisell continued, “I feel like when you put your company’s good name on a promotional item it is important. It needs care and attention. That is where I come in. I am familiar with the industry and I know what each client wants – because I have talked to them – so I am able to put those two things together to help make sure they get the best product for their company or event.”
When it comes to Wisell’s growth strategy, her focus, from the beginning, has been on reaching as many prospects as possible through whatever means available.
“I’ve done just about everything,” Wisell said with a laugh. “I’ve cold-called, gone door-to-door, handed out business cards and catalogs to people at gas stations, walked neighborhoods, gone to networking events – you name it, I’ve done it.”
When it comes to what she enjoys most about owning and operating a business in the promotional products space, Wisell shared the following. “I love talking with my clients,” she said. “I love finding out what is important to them and making it happen. There is no better feeling for me than when a client calls or sends me a picture and thanks me because they are in LOVE with their product. I take it very seriously when my clients spend their hard earned money with my business. It’s a huge responsibility and a great compliment. I know that they can buy pens anywhere, but I also know that people like to be valued and appreciated and most importantly, they want to have someone in their corner making sure all of the details are perfect. That is what I do.”
Looking ahead, Wisell is focused on continuing to offer her clients the best service possible. She would also like to eventually do more in-person vendor events and get more involved in the community.
“What exactly that will look like, I do not know yet,” she said. “My husband is a Vietnam veteran so I would like to work with other vets who have served our country. We have worked very closely with some of the counselors at the vet center and I think that being able to help provide funding for programs to help vets who may be struggling when they get home, would be rewarding and would make a difference. That may even include some employment opportunities for them as well. Again, we have just begun to find our way.”
Wisell also recently found her way into the world of podcasting. She and her niece recently launched a podcast called Makeshift Motivation. They use humor in everyday situations to help others find their own motivation.
“It is probably one of the most fun things I have ever done,” she said. “We do a weekly show on Monday afternoons. We are on all the major platforms and we also stream live on our Facebook page.”
What advice does Wisell have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “This is something we talk about on our podcast all the time,” she said. “We talk a lot about realizing your dreams and making them a reality. We want to encourage men and women to go for those dreams. I think that my best advice is to realize that you can make all of the plans you want – and we all know there is a LOT of planning that goes into starting your own business – but sometimes things happen. Sometimes things are not going to go the way you planned. Sometimes that will be good and sometimes it will be not so good. Either way, it’s okay. I didn't plan to start my business and five months later be in the midst of a pandemic. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and Pivot! So, my best advice is to be flexible and fearless.”