2022 Women in Print and Promo: Andrea Sanders, Cap America
Director of Embroidery Operations
Cap America, Fredericktown, Missouri
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans began healing in ways that felt familiar. Blood donations soared. American flags were displayed everywhere — so much so that manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand. Roughly 1,045 miles away from Ground Zero, in Fredericktown, Missouri, a large apparel supplier called Cap America stayed busy churning out orders for hats embroidered with American flags.
Andrea Sanders’ mother worked there at the time and tipped her daughter off to an open embroidery operator position. Sanders was young and eager to land what would be her first full-time job — and she did. The only problem? The former waitress had never seen an embroidery machine before.
“It really actually scared me,” Sanders recalled.
She viewed this as a temporary stop on her career path, but that initial fear quickly turned to a love for the craft. A couple of years later, Sanders gained the confidence to apply for a supervisor role within the company. She didn’t get it.
Not one to be discouraged, Sanders kept the embroidery machines running and tried again in 2006 when management posted a night shift supervisor position. This time, she got the job, and the next year she became a day shift supervisor. In 2008, she was named department manager.
Now, 20-plus years after 9/11, America is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses continue to navigate price increases and supply chain imbalances — the difference here is there are inventory shortages of everything. But that’s not enough to intimidate Sanders, the recently promoted director of embroidery operations. She enjoys what she does as much as she did in those early days, and her passion shines through with each completed task.
“Andrea has been an integral part of the growth of our embroidery production, contributing to the processes and efficiencies within the department,” her nominator said. “As a leader, Andrea conducts herself in a way that inspires those around her. The challenges she has overcome, both personally and professionally, is encouraging to all who encounter her.”
Her Proudest Career Achievement
I worked very hard every day, through many failures and many accomplishments, to go from an operator to my current role as director of embroidery operations. I am most proud of being able to push through being diagnosed with breast cancer and surviving a year of chemo while still giving my all to the company I love.
On Working in a Traditionally Male-Dominated Industry
I don’t feel that I have ever been treated any differently because I am a woman. I have worked hard and have been rewarded for it. I feel very strongly that Cap America values diversity and inclusion. We have a great representation of females in leadership roles and all opinions, ideas and thoughts are encouraged and included. There are two people that I credit for helping me grow and learn some of the most important skills that I need to be successful. One is a man, Tom Gillespie (my boss and the senior vice president of production at Cap America), and one is a woman, Sarah Burgin, our vice president of human relations. In the end, we are all just human.
Who Inspires Her
Sarah Burgin is the smartest woman that I know, and she is extremely talented. She is fearless and confident. Her confidence in herself and her abilities is what I admire most about her. Working alongside her for the past several years has been an amazing experience and I have learned so much from her. I can only hope that she knows how much I value her.
Her Job Advice to Women
My advice is to give 100% in anything that you do. What you put into things is what you will get out of them. Remain open-minded and listen to the people around you. I would not be where I am today without the wonderful team of people that I work with. This is a wonderful industry to work in and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Her Biggest Lesson Learned
Take constructive criticism seriously, but not personally. Learn from your mistakes and never stop learning.
Her Upcoming Goals
[I want to] create stronger relationships with the team that I work with and other departments within the company in order to enable Cap America to continue to grow and be successful.
What She Wants People to Know About Her
I am very driven and dedicated. I love a good challenge and I never give up. I have a passion to learn and keep learning in whatever I do.
How She Thinks Companies Can Attract and Retain Female Talent
[They should] encourage more women to apply for leadership roles. If you currently have women in leadership roles, make that information visible in a way, such as posting a promotion or highlighting an accomplishment on social media.
How She Recharges
I live on a farm and love animals, so the thing that really relaxes me is to go home and spend time with my family and take care of my animals. Also, take a break from all of the major decision making that I do all day long.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.