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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Uniforms & Awards  |  Topic: Addressing Vanguard Issues At The National Level
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ProdigalJim
Seasoned Member

Posts: 475
Unit: MER-VA-082

Aviation Week
« on: February 22, 2017, 03:02:48 PM »

MER CC Col. John Knowles included this item in his monthly commentary to all of the members in the Region, and it's good news!

>> "Addressing Uniform Concerns Regarding Vanguard

Over the last several months, I have been working with some of Civil Air Patrolís national staff addressing problems raised concerning uniform items purchased from Vanguard.  Concerns range from issues with stitching and mistakes with names to quality variances with products over time.  One of our members put together a detailed report based on issues that he had been made aware of or had experienced himself.  This report provided specific examples of the problems outlined. This is an important component when trying to address a complaint.  Simply saying ďyou guys stinkĒ isnít really an effective method for change.  Based on the memberís report and by working with the National Uniform Committee and the staff at NHQ, we have made significant progress. " (Emphasis mine)

"Let me start out by saying I know for a fact that Vanguard really wants to provide a quality product to our members.  Over the years, anytime anyone has approached me about a problem, I have always suggested they contact the company to directly resolve the issue. That almost always solves the problem.  Letís also agree that no one is perfect and sometimes mistakes are made.  We are actively working to improve the quality of the items supplied by Vanguard."

"Currently, when they create a new item, samples are reviewed prior to production.  Each of the issues brought up in the report have been addressed and corrected where possible by Vanguard.  Our members are our most important asset, and we will continue to work to get you what you need.  If you have issues going forward, I ask that you contact Vanguard if it is a customer service problem.  If it is a quality issue, please send it through your chain of command ó which will get to meó so I can work with the national staff to make things right.  This item is important to the CAP Senior Advisory Group and no one should think their concerns are being ignored." (Again, emphasis mine.)

Three cheers for Col. Knowles! And let's all do as he suggests so that we can maybe get more concrete systemic changes.

I know for a fact that there is an effort afoot to create a genuine CAP standard, based on the relevant Milspec, for Vanguard to follow (right now they don't have one). That step alone should be an enormous benefit.  :clap:
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Jim Mathews, Maj., CAP
Deputy Commander
VAWG Group 3
My Mitchell Has Four Digits...
PHall
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 5,606

« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 04:55:24 PM »

I see nothing here about the one problem that is totally in Vanguard's control. The lack of consistency between batches of the same item.
That's nothing but a simple quality control issue. Something a company that really cares about putting out a quality product has no trouble doing.
But based on my experience they can't seem to handle it, at least for Civil Air Patrol items. I've never had a problem with Vanguard for Air Force insignia...
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NIN
VIP

Posts: 4,433
Unit: of issue

« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 05:55:27 PM »

I see nothing here about the one problem that is totally in Vanguard's control. The lack of consistency between batches of the same item.
That's nothing but a simple quality control issue. Something a company that really cares about putting out a quality product has no trouble doing.
But based on my experience they can't seem to handle it, at least for Civil Air Patrol items. I've never had a problem with Vanguard for Air Force insignia...

Phil, I sure did:

Quote from: Col Knowles
If it is a quality issue, please send it through your chain of command ó which will get to meó so I can work with the national staff to make things right.

of course "me" being the MER Commander, Col Knowles, so if you're going to report on quality issues, send it thru your OWN chain of command.

so in other words "I bought badge A six months ago and it looked like this. I bought badge A again a month ago and it looks *completely* different. What gives, Vanguard?" is a quality issue.
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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
Sq Bubba, Wing Dude, National Guy
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award
***
Posts: 27,267

« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 06:26:20 PM »

So now the Wing & Region CC need to review each VG mistake and decide whether it is worthy of being forwarded to NHQ?

Any noise on this is better then no noise, but as PHall says, many of the VG issues are internal QA which they may or may not
blame on lack of a CAP spec, but generally are just "didn't bother to check stuff", which they generally fix, but requires another
member cycle of hassle, and that's assuming the issue is noted before it's been sewn on, etc., at the member's expense.

There should be terms in the contract for QA penalties when identified, especially the really blatant stuff.

And until those specifications are complete, that excuse will continue to exist.  Again, good on anyone working
on them, but considering the significant backlog of seemingly easy curriculum and program corrections already outstanding
where is any assurance this actually ever happens when it hasn't existed in the last 75 years?
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 06:29:50 PM by Eclipse » Logged

"Effort" does not equal "results".
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NIN
VIP

Posts: 4,433
Unit: of issue

« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 09:54:45 AM »

Lets face it, the practical reality is that unlike how Vanguard sells to AAFES (with a set of standards and probably with a QA process at the buyer), CAP is really not Vanguard's "customer," the individual members are the customer.

Does Vanguard fix things quickly?  They do.  They're very good about fixing things and taking care of the end-customer, the individual members.

My post here about the chaplain insignia for the ABUs I was sewing up for Chappie touched off a flurry of emails that basically wound up to "OK, we'll put the merrowing 1/8" of an inch from the insignia embroidery."  Noooooo, that's not supposed to be merrowed _at_all_.   

But even worse is the fact that CAP hasn't provided a "standard" to Vanguard since the beginning of the relationship, and Vanguard, having previously made insignia for the Bookstore, has basically continued to make this "like we did for the Bookstore."  So the reason the medical, nurse and chaplain insignia have merrowing around them dates back probably > 10 years.  IOW, someone back in the Bookstore days _told_ whomever the embroidery vendor was (Vanguard? Someone else?) to make it that way. When Vanguard took over from the Bookstore, there was all this insignia that was made that way.  Lacking any other clear guidance from CAP on how some of our insignia was to be made save a bin full of examples, Vanguard probably shrugged their shoulders and said "OK, we don't make it like this for the Air Force, but there's gotta be some weird CAP reason why these are like this, so we'll keep making them this way...."

When Vanguard sells to AAFES, there are very detailed specs that are included: a "cartoon" (diagram), weight of fabric, color of fabric, colorfastness, color of thread, dimensions, thread count, type of thread, etc.  So when a batch of insignia intended for sale on the wall at AAFES comes in to the AAFES HQ for distribution, they select some samples, compare them to the spec, ensure that "Yep, its all within the spec" and the stuff goes on the wall at Podunk AFB's Clothing Sales store. (my company does the same thing to every piece of material that comes in the door from vendors. They don't just do it to a sample of a batch, they do it to every piece of a batch.. I swear, I feel like we're Lockheed or something. LOL)  If the "quality-reject" percentage exceeds a certain number as specified in the deal with AAFES, I'm sure there are penalties, to include potential loss of the contract, so I bet that Vanguard does their own QA process before stuff goes out the door there.  But we're talking tens of thousands of pieces of insignia a year for the military. Not a thousand. Or a couple hundred.

In the case of CAP insignia, CAP, Inc is not Vanguard's customer. You and I are. Individual members by and large know very little about insignia standards, stitch counts, etc, right? So they order this stuff, get something thats a little whacky in the mail and they don't know.  They tear open the package, say "Well, it came from Vanguard that way, it must be correct.." and slap it on their uniform, completely not knowing or understanding that its wrong, inconsistent or looks bad. 

Its only when someone goes "Hey, why does your wing patch look *completely* different that mine?" that someone notices the inconsistencies between batches.  Or "Hey, where'd you get those shoulder marks? They look awful!"  I suspect that a tremendously small number of people who buy from Vanguard actually complain about the quality of the insignia. Most (even me) just figure out how to make it work.

Example: I got the wings pictured below from one of my officers who ordered them from Vanguard a month or so back. Notice the vertical centering?  These are AIR FORCE wings, too!   I didn't have the time or energy to dicker with Vanguard and wait for them to remake wings correctly. I made it work, but it was a pain in the backside.  But at the end of the day,  why should I have to show the vendor that they're not even making Air Force insignia to Air Force standards (minus the obvious difference in fabric color and thread color)?  That would *never* fly on the wall at AAFES.



Its the inconsistency over time that is the problem, too. I can show you differences in insignia purchased from Vanguard over a period of a year or 18 months:

Look at those cadet shoulder marks. They're all over the map!!

So my point in all this, sort of, is that since members go VFR direct to Vanguard on all issues (shipping, customer service, order quality, insignia quality), the powers that be have no real solid visibility into the depth and breadth of the issues the individual members are having with insignia quality.  So the only way we're ever going to know is if we start reporting on quality issues *somehow* to NHQ/the NUC, etc.

Maybe we need a centralized point of complaint at HQ? Something like an online form where people can submit their issue, you know, with contact info, a description of the problem, maybe a photo or two uploaded, etc. It gets logged for National-level information, and Vanguard gets notified "Hey, this guy has a problem. Fix it."  That way, NHQ / NUC / The National Leadership now have a modicum of visibility in to what is going on. They can see a report or a listing, and someone can say "In the last 4 months there have been 72 Vanguard complaints. 29 were related to shipping, 17 were incorrect items shipped, 10 were complaints about the quality of the polo shirt, 6 were complaints about the quality of metal insignia, and 10 were about embroidered insignia quality...**"

Now someone can say "OK, apart from the spec issues, lets talk about the 46 service delivery problems.."

(**completely made up numbers)

Unless and until we know the scope of the issue, its hard to deal with the problem.

At the same time, yes, we need some legit specs for Vanguard to then build insignia against, and that can be held up as "accept/reject".

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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
Sq Bubba, Wing Dude, National Guy
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
kwe1009
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 590

« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 10:01:21 AM »

Since NHQ hasn't set concrete specifications it is left up to VG and their suppliers to define.  It looks like VG uses multiple suppliers and each has a different take on how the "requirements" are read.  That is how you end up with blue epaulets that are different shades of blue and different material construction for instance. 

Having set standards is really not that difficult either.  The issue I believe is that CAP is not a large enough part of VG's business for them to invest the time and money into QC like they do with their military items.  For all of the incorrect CAP items that are posted here, I'm betting the vast majority of that batch are simply added to the individual's uniform without much thought.  They either don't notice or have the false belief that "if VG sold it then it must be right."
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NIN
VIP

Posts: 4,433
Unit: of issue

« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 10:18:54 AM »

Is it sad that I discovered a forgotten set of Lt Col shoulder marks on my sweater (that I haven't worn in a couple years) and I was massively excited that they were "original stock" (probably got these from the Bookstore circa 2004) shoulder marks instead of new stock?

I troll ebay for old-stock shoulder marks all the time.

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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
Sq Bubba, Wing Dude, National Guy
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
docrameous
Recruit

Posts: 21

« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 03:34:41 PM »

Having set standards is really not that difficult either.  The issue I believe is that CAP is not a large enough part of VG's business for them to invest the time and money into QC like they do with their military items. 

That and possibly when you have a monopoly, you don't have some of the market forces to push you to find the resources for QC.  Pain (obvious loss of business) is a real focusing agent and you tend to find creative solutions under pressure.

Regardless, I do avoid as much as possible purchasing from them due to poor QC.  My first set of BDUs came apart at the stitching at the first washing.  Not the end of the world and nothing a tailor could not fix, but it does not make you want to come back to buy again particularly because in this case I already had my patches sewn on... so I went to a military surplus to buy ABUs and my blue corporate field uniform was purchased as a name brand from another supplier.

I take however this thread as an encouragement that awareness is growing and I would have to give the benefit of the doubt to the folk at VG that they desire to have a good service.
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Uniforms & Awards  |  Topic: Addressing Vanguard Issues At The National Level
 


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