The Mulqueen Family
Pat Mulqueen will tell you that it definitely pays to be observant. More than 45 years ago, he became involved in the sewing industry in New York as a sales representative for a leading manufacturer. He watched and learned, as the industry evolved. When a position with this company opened for him in Phoenix, AZ, in the early 1970s, he jumped at the opportunity to move his young family to this growing part of the country.
As Pat’s sewing industry knowledge increased, the well-known manufacturer he worked with changed its business model and exited the company owned dealer store market. Understanding the strengths of the business and the tremendous growth potential in his locale, Pat opened his own dealership. It was a comfortable bet, because during this period, the Phoenix area experienced tremendous growth, which continues to this day. Known for many years as The Lakes Sewing Centers, in 2007 the company changed its name to Mulqueen Sewing Centers. Over the years the growth of the company has mirrored that of the region’s population expansion. Today the company is the largest business of its kind in the region, and provides a wide variety of products and services, including Brother International Corporation’s full line of sewing, quilting and embroidery machines.
Mulqueen Sewing Centers is a family business through and through. Pat’s wife Bridget is known by family members, customers and friends as the “hardest working” member of the Mulqueen family. She’s played an instrumental role in the growth of the company, and today actively manages the company’s finances. She has never hesitated to get involved in any aspect of the business.
Pat and Bridget’s sons Ken, Keith and Darren are also integral to the company’s success, growth and future. Each of these dynamic businessmen have been involved in the family operation since they were teenagers.
“My sons each have a role in the business and are a major part of our success. They assist the company to adapt to the changing market and utilize new technology,” said Pat.
The Mulqueens also recognize their talented and valued employees are a core part of the growth and success of the business. Some employees have been with the company almost 30 years. Their loyalty, and even more so their accumulated expertise, are strong assets for the Mulqueens and their customers.
The company has received many sales and business recognitions over the years and has regularly ranked as the top dealer in the country for the line of machines it carried in the past. A few years ago, though, after observing how machine manufacturers have met marketplace changes and consumer demands with innovations in technology and new products, the Mulqueens took another leap. They decided to expand their product offerings to include Brother International’s full line of home sewing, quilting and embroidery machines. They also became a dealer for Brother’s industrial machines, specifically in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.
“It’s been a good decision,” said Darren. “We have been seeing strong sales of Brother’s PR-600 II six-needle embroidery machine and Brother’s garment printer. These machines are especially popular for people who are starting their own businesses.”
Today, Mulqueen Sewing Centers operates four successful operations in Arizona, including stores in Chandler, Glendale, and two in Mesa. The 8,000-square-foot East Mesa flagship store is the corporate headquarters, and the largest store with the largest training rooms.
Success for the Mulqueens’ comes from hard work and understanding how to serve their clients.
“I have a photo showing our notions wall at one of our first locations. It was no more than three feet by three feet,” recalled Darren. “Today, when people come to our largest store, it is 8,000 square feet and we offer products that they cannot find anywhere else. Many sewing enthusiasts tell us that coming to our store is like being at ‘a sewing Disneyland’ and those who travel from far away wish that something like this existed near them.”
That same sense of wonder extends to what Mulqueen Sewing Centers can show them about Brother embroidery technology.
“People who come to our locations are amazed by the sewing and embroidery technology and what can be done with it. Brother machines have great features and machines such as the Innov-is 4000D attract attention. People want machines like this that have features that go beyond that of other brands,” Darren added.
The work ethic of the Mulqueen family carries through to their commitment to education, service and support. Every customer who purchases a machine from any Mulqueen Sewing Centers location receives lifetime support.
“We have people call us all the time with questions, bring garments to us looking for help, and regularly attend our classes. We are here for them and we do whatever we can to assist them with their project and to get the most out of the machines they buy from us. This has allowed us to build a very strong customer base and a mailing list of more than 17,000 names,” Darren said.
The buzz about Mulqueen Sewing Centers has spread across the nation and even internationally. Because of the company’s commitment to training, education and support, they have embarked on an ambitious program to offer at least one major event each quarter. Past events include sewing training, quilting retreats and embroidery parties. The company recently held a very successful “Hands-on Sewing School,” where more than 160 participants from around the country and abroad participated. This three-day class featured well-known sewing, embroidery and quilting educators and professionals. The event was followed by a party held among the machines and products at the company’s headquarters and more than 90 percent of the event’s participants attended.
Education is a key component to Mulqueen Sewing Centers’ success, and it’s something other dealers should take note of. The company’s stores range in size from 2,000 square feet to more than 8,000 square feet, but each has space for educational programs.
“Education is very important. By meeting the training and educational needs of our customer we were able to transform our business from a small operation to a group of successful stores with one sewing superstore,” Darren said.
Reprinted from SQE Professional, July 2007