Kevin McColly, 50, is the lead embroidery technician for Noble Works and has been working in embroidery for 26 years now. McColly first met Ariel Barrientos (owner of Noble Works), 27, when he was a soccer player at Chemeketa Community College who went into Image Actionwear to help his coach pick out some team apparel. Fast forward a few years later, Barrientos found the opportunity to buy out Image and brought on McColly.
What is your embroidery experience?
“At 23, I decided to give up working on the family farm to pursue embroidery as a career. In 1993, I started working at Custom Creations up until 2000. Then I decided to get my associates degree in computers. Shortly after obtaining my degree I got hired on to work at Salem Emblem shop for about a year which ended up not really working out for me. I made a job switchover to Image Actionwear from 2004 all the way up until I came to Noble in 2018.”
What does a regular day look like for you?
“The good thing with this job is you never do the same thing over and over. It’s always different. What makes this job hard is the fact that you can sew out all day long on a piece of fabric and you don’t know what it’s going to do. All you can do is guess what you think will be the best way to sew out. Production wise is a balance of due dates, constantly switching out the machine for different sew outs and garments. It can be very hectic and unorthodox to hear if you’re not organized and don’t have your stuff in a pile.”
What is one of the biggest challenges your job entails?
“One of the biggest challenges in this work is trying to figure out hats. It becomes difficult at times to problem solve logos to make them sew out on a ll the different types of garments.”
What’s something you want the public to know about embroidery?
“To me this isn’t a job where you’re pumping stuff out just to specifically make money. I like the problem solving aspect of it, this is an art to me. You know I look forward to coming in here every day, I haven’t done this for 25 years because I hate it, I do it because I love it. Every aspect of this is what I enjoy doing every day.”
How is it working at Noble compared to other screen printing/embroidery companies?
“Well one of the biggest reasons why I came onto Noble, was the fact that Ariel allowed me to loosen up my schedule so I could continue to experiment with different types of sew outs, because there’s a lot of aspects in this field to figure out. For example, being able to troubleshoot more things with backing needles with different types of threads, mess around with 3D sew outs. The work environment here is absolutely great. It’s one of the things that me and him were concerned about coming in here, was making sure that we had a great working environment, didn’t have a lot of drama and hiring the right people to make this thing flow to make it very successful.”
How has the pandemic affected your job in this time compared to how it was before?
“Well it really hasn’t affected me as far as spacing in here because we are all spaced out since our machinery is so large. But the downfall of it is it’s really hectic with the shipping, it used to be where we could order something from Seattle and it’d be here the next day, now the stuff isn’t showing up for 2-4 days, it’s really unorthodox. So we’re having a hard time keeping up with schedules and meeting our due dates.”
What’s your favorite thing about Salem?
“It has a feel for a big city but there’s no buildings that are taller than the capitol compared to Portland with the sky scrapers, and it’s more of a country feel.”
What do you think about the business opportunity in Salem, Oregon?
“After getting brought on here, some of our biggest competitors that we were going up against when I was working at Image Actionwear, started shutting down for numerous reasons and so at this point at coming in with Noble, Salem is basically wide open, plus with the experience we have with some key people here, really gives us the chance to become really successful in this town.”