About the only time you will catch David Gormley, ’87, not wearing a hat is at church or a funeral. Gormley, founder of Zephyr Graf-X, makers of hats and sports apparel, wears a hat a minimum of 70 hours a week.
As early as age 6, he was sketching ideas for hats and uniforms. “I would make up fictitious football teams and design their outerwear,” says Gormley. “At BYU I would doodle during class lectures.” He credits his educational experience at BYU for helping him understand consumer behavior.
He discovered that others share his fetish for hats when he owned four Pro Image retail stores in San Diego. “I noticed most of my sales were coming from the hat wall. People were very particular about their hats, and many were not satisfied with current offerings,” Gormley says. He decided to leave the retail business and start a new company.
Started in 1993, Zephyr has grown from two employees to 45, has sold millions of hats, and is developing new product lines.
“I’m always watching people interact and react in fashions and style,” says Gormley, who adds that understanding the company’s core market of 14- to 24-year-olds often requires some hanging out. “I’ll go to malls, theaters, and the streets to talk with kids. There is an unlimited amount of knowledge you can gain from them.”