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When Quality Isn't Free

Woopps Enterprises fixes manufacturers' mistakes for clothing exporters and retailers.

For most of us, poor product quality is a problem. For Joseph Tilkin, it's a living. His company, Woopps Enterprises Inc., specializes in fixing manufacturers' mistakes for clothing importers and retailers. Suppose, for example, that a shipment of cuffed pants arrives without the cuffs. Or the V-necked sweaters all have crew necks. Before Woopps, importers could do little but wail at the moon, eat the cost, and fire the manufacturer. Now, they can go to Tilkin and get the problem fixed -- for a fee, of course.

A 30-year veteran of the garment business, Tilkin founded Woopps with three partners in November 1985. The idea grew out of his own unhappy experiences with clothing manufacturers. In its first fiscal year, Woopps had sales of $685,000. This year revenues will pass the $3-million mark.

Woopps's success has not gone unnoticed. "Competi-tion," says Tilkin, "is beginning to rear its ugly head." He is well aware, moreover, that his concept could be applied to other industries -- toys, for example. But the garment industry is what he knows, and he still sees room for growth there. "We never know where our next job is coming from," he says. -- John Grossman

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