Custom Promotional
Branding celebrates more than two decades of success in the print industry.

If there is a shirt, water bottle, or even a sticker that promotes a local company, chances are it came from Custom Promotional Branding. Originally started as a screen printing company, Custom Promotional Branding has now become the go-to place to get brand merchandise. 

It all started when co-owner Jeff DeLong took a commercial art class in high school. After graduating and working around Jefferson City, he went to work as a graphic artist for a company at the Lake of the Ozarks that sold novelty, tourist, and gift shop items. After leaving the Lake of the Ozarks, Jeff went to work for a sign company for a few years until his former boss from the Lake of the Ozarks called him and asked if he and a former co-worker wanted to buy his screen-printing company. Taking the offer, Jeff and his new partner ran and operated the business. A couple of years later, Stacey, who is now Jeff’s wife, joined the team. Jeff and Stacey met in that same high school commercial art class that sparked Jeff’s interest in design, but the pair didn’t start dating until Stacey began driving to the Lake of the Ozarks to help with the company. 

“She blended in with me,” Jeff says. “She helped a lot when we had the business down there.” 

In 1997, as their relationship progressed, Jeff separated from his business partner, and the couple brought the company home to Jefferson City. Jeff and Stacey started with a single customer and hit the streets looking for more. 

“We’re both from here,” Jeff says. “We knew more people and had more help [than we did at the lake]. And then one year and one month later, we got married.” 

“We’ve been in 27 years of business, and we’re celebrating 26 years of marriage this year,” Stacey adds. 

For over a decade, the business specialized in custom screen printing. It wasn’t until 2009 that they ventured into another form of customization. The two purchased a local embroidery company called Brigitte’s and added it to their repertoire. At the same time, they began selling promotional branding items. Screen printing can be done on T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and most other kinds of flat cloth items. Polos, hats, coats, jackets, bags, and backpacks can be embroidered. As for promotional items, the sky’s the limit: water bottles, shot glasses, golf balls, and even WWE-style belts for something like an employee of the month reward. 

“It’s a group effort, and the community gets behind us, too.”

Jeff DeLong

“There are thousands of items that I couldn’t even begin to tell you about,” Jeff says.

To give customers some inspiration for their branding merchandise, racks and shelves filled to the brim with different colors and styles of T-shirts, baseball caps, and button-up shirts are put up in the display room located at the front of the building. Past designs created for various orders are also displayed on the walls. At the back of the display room, windows reveal the inner workings of the business. Large machines with mechanical arms and screens attached to the ends of them can be seen as employees lower the screens onto flat cloth. Highly pigmented ink is placed on top of the screen, and employees use a squeegee to pull the ink through the screen and deposit it on the fabric. After ensuring the first layer is dry and set, the employees then swing the garment to the next screen for the next layer of color, and they continue circling the machine until the design is complete. Jeff and Stacey have also invested in machinery that improves quality and efficiency, allowing them to work smarter not harder. Typically, orders only take one to three colors, but Custom Promotional Branding can use up to 10 colors for customers. A wall of paint canisters arranged in rainbow order at their shop shows the range of colors clients can choose from.  

One of Jeff and Stacey’s favorite types of orders is creating items for charitable events. After the tornado hit Jefferson City in 2019, city leaders and business owners came together to raise money to help people affected by the tornado under the hashtag #JCStrong. 

“We covered the costs of the shirts and donated everything else,” Jeff says. “The leadership team sorted everything and delivered the shirts to the individual stores that were carrying them, and we sold them for $5 a piece.” 

“We were able to donate $30,000 to three different organizations that helped people around town,” Stacey adds. 

Through it all, Jeff and Stacey are also incredibly thankful to have great support from the Jefferson City community and their staff. 

“There’s thousands of items that I couldn’t even begin to tell you about.”

Jeff DeLong

“Our staff members wear so many different hats, and everybody is good at what they do,” Stacey says. 

“We’re so far beyond just her and I doing it,” Jeff says. “Even when she and I were doing most of it, we still had friends and family that would come and help get stuff done. We might keep the business going, but without all the other people, it wouldn’t be possible to operate as well as we do. It’s a group effort, and the community gets behind us, too.” 

And while the business has seen plenty of changes since 1997, Jeff says the three key ingredients to their success have been accuracy, integrity, and service. 

“If we can stick to those ideals, we’re doing things right, and our customers will continue to come back. We’ve had growing pains over the years like anyone else, but we just stick it out. Our customers can always count on us to get the job done.”