Bryan Croft: Guiding the family business into the e-commerce space

Going “all in” on e-commerce wasn’t without its challenges for HC Brands, the former Holmes Stamp Co.

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HC Brands President and CEO Bryan Croft purchased the promotional products company from his parents in 2009. He started working there in 1998 after graduating from the University of North Florida.
HC Brands President and CEO Bryan Croft purchased the promotional products company from his parents in 2009. He started working there in 1998 after graduating from the University of North Florida.
Photo by Dede Smith
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Bryan Croft’s success plan is a science: Sell the right products, market them in appealing ways and create an atmosphere where people want to work and plan to stay. 

The art is in the “how.”

Croft is president and CEO of HC Brands, a promotional products company that produces thousands of custom items ranging from water bottles to wine glasses and from koozies to keychains.

He said his entrepreneurial path started by honoring the legacy of the past, but also by focusing on innovation and community. 

Originally Holmes Stamp Co., HC Brands was founded in 1954.

HC Brands President and CEO Bryan Croft says his company now employs more than 100 people.
Photo by Dede Smith

Croft started working for the company, which was owned by his parents, after graduating from the University of North Florida in 1998. He bought it from them in 2009 under a “15-year mortgage.” 

It was paid off this month with a celebratory meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House with Croft and his wife, his parents and his CFO and his wife.

“When I came into the business it was a great foundation,” said Croft, 49. 

“We were about $800,000 in revenue at the time and I was employee number 10. I thought that was pretty cool, but wanted more than the $8 I was making an hour mom and dad were paying me.”

He approached his father about developing a company website, a novelty in 1999, as a means to boost sales. 

“And that failed pretty miserably in those first five or six years,” Croft said, “but I was learning and so was the consumer. We were learning what e-commerce was together.”

A few years later, the company was employing 25 people and generating $2.5 million in revenue. 

The original Holmes Stamp Co. accounting ledger. The company was founded in 1954.
Photo by J. Brooks Terry

Today HC Brands employs more than 100 people. It also operates eight niche websites, including,,, and others. 

It produced $17.2 million in revenue in 2023.

The move to e-commerce wasn’t without challenges, including changes to Google algorithms, the uncertainty of artificial intelligence, and in Croft’s case, a shift in the company’s business model.  

In 2022, Croft sold company-owned business unit All American ID, a wholesale distributor, to focus on growing HC Brand’s e-commerce footprint.  

“Historically, this business was built on a wholesale model. You could walk into a Staples or an Office Depot and you’d buy a rubber stamp or a license plate. I could sell it to you for $10. They would sell it to you for $20. That was the wholesale model,” he said. 

“As e-commerce really started taking off in our business, we had all these wholesale customers and then we had e-commerce customers. It became too hard to manage both of them.”

Croft said it was a decision that contributed to a “softening of sales” and voluntary and involuntary employee attrition.

“It was hard, but it was the right decision for the business because we are no longer managing two completely different kinds of customers. One customer was ordering through email and fax and the other customer was ordering through an API on the back end of Amazon,” he said, referring to application programming interfaces, a software communication.

“We’re all in with e-commerce now. We’re modern.”

HC Brands President and CEO Bryan Croft's company produces thousands of custom items ranging from water bottles and wine glasses to koozies and keychains.
Photo by Dede Smith

To stay current on trends, Croft said he follows Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, global entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and eCommerceFuel founder Andrew Youderian on X, the rebranded  Twitter. ECommerceFuel say on its site that it is designed for “7- and 8-Figure Sellers.”

As for developing company culture, Croft said he remains interested in “growing organically” and providing jobs in Jacksonville, where 85% of HC Brands employees live and work.

“I love Jacksonville. I’m not going anywhere. I want to give people the same opportunities my dad gave me,” he said. 

Croft and his wife, Amy, an attorney, have three children: Avery, 21, Natalie, 19, and Chance, 15. 

So far, none of the children expressed interest in joining the business. Avery wants to work with children; Natalie wants to become a veterinarian; and Chance wants to play ball.

Croft continues to recruit employees.

“I’d love to give people the opportunity to work with us to help us find new customers.”

That commitment also extends philanthropically and through civic means. Croft is involved with San Marco East Business Association, a group of businesses, civic leaders and residents engaged in the revitalization of the area near San Marco north of Philips Highway.

HC Brands is at 2021 St. Augustine Road E., about a mile from San Marco Square.

“Listen, I know I’m literally on the wrong side of the tracks. There are strip clubs and cheap hotels over here. Not homes on the water that cost about $1 million, but I want to be a part of a solution,” he said.

Croft is also involved in Haiti180, a faith-based nonprofit that provides resources and educational opportunities to Haitian children. He has been to Haiti 10 times in the past decade.

“None of that has to do with being an entrepreneur,” he said. “That’s just me being a human.”

He calls that operating with a “philanthropic pulse.”

“Our job is to finance our shenanigans, but our culture allows us to give back.”



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