Uniform maker’s pink line helps companies show they’re involved

GKdirect markets pink shirts, jackets and hats to retail, airline clients.

Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the Dayton Daily News this month, you will find in-depth coverage of breast cancer’s local impact.

FAIRBORN — GKdirect knows awareness about breast cancer doesn’t stop at the front doors of offices, gas stations or airports. That’s why the former Lion Uniform Group launched pink-themed attire programs for corporate customers three years ago.

One program is aimed at gas station employees while the other provides clothing for commercial air carriers such as Delta Airlines, said Jennifer Nixon, a company spokeswoman.

Under the company’s Fueling Awareness program, GKdirect sells polo shirts, jackets and baseball hats for retail employees at Gulf, Chevron, Shell, Texaco and other stations, Nixon said.

The shirts and jackets include pink striping while the hats feature a pink ribbon, a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Employees or franchisees buy the clothing, Nixon said.

GKdirect likely will add more pink-themed products or change the designs of its items for retail employees, Nixon said.

As of August, the program had raised $30,000 for anti-cancer efforts since it launched in 2009, she said.

Recipients have included the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure and the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Foundation.

In April, the program won the Image of the Year award from the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors.

Through a second program, the company provides pink dresses, shirts, scarves and pocket squares for Delta flight attendants, customer-service representatives and other employees who work with the public.

Nixon said companies that use the pink-themed clothing benefit by showing customers they care about and are involved in anti-cancer efforts.

Atlanta-based Delta said it has raised $3.5 million for the research foundation. The airline packed 140 employees who are breast cancer survivors onto its “pink plane” for a flight from Atlanta to Detroit.

The craft is a Boeing 767-400 with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s pink-ribbon logo on the plane’s tail and next to its boarding door.

G&K Services, based in Minneapolis, purchased the former Lion Uniform in 2005.

GKdirect employs 65 at its administrative operations on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road and also maintains a distribution center in Mt. Sterling, Ky.