Supplier Entrepreneur of the Year – Adam Walterscheid

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Adam WalterscheidIf Adam Walterscheid realizes his vision, millions of people who will be the biggest fans of his work will not even know his company’s name. “My game plan is to build your client’s brand,” says Walterscheid, owner of T-Shirt Tycoon Solutions, Inc. (asi/87000). “They don’t need to know anything about me.”

Private label is not a new concept to the industry, but Walterscheid has taken a different approach to the idea of corporate apparel. T-Shirt Tycoon marries retail trends with innovative branding techniques through a nimble stateside operation that emphasizes custom cut and sew as well as dyeing. (No surprise the company has labeled its apparel collection Corporate Cool.) The supplier has quickly won converts since Walterscheid started the company in 2011, ranking as the sixth-fastest growing supplier in the industry with 191% in growth the last three years. The Garland, TX-based company is on target for between $7.5 and $10 million in revenue this year due in part to working with distributors with high-value clients.

“We don’t want to work for 80% of the industry,” says Walterscheid. “We want to work for 20% of the industry that writes 80% of the business. We want to be exclusive. Like a speakeasy, like a secret society if you will. We want to hold the prestige to working with us.”

Apparel wasn’t an automatic destination for Walterscheid. The New Mexico native learned his work ethic as the fourth-generation member of a family of cotton farmers. Walterscheid next went to play football at Southern Methodist University where he used the relationships he formed with alumni during his playing career to run the football and basketball stadium stores, and court T-shirt business from Greek life on campus. The venture proved so successful that he started a business (Pony Xpress Printing) that sold to 12 different college campuses.

After receiving an offer five years ago to sell Pony Xpress, Walterscheid started T-Shirt Tycoon and partnered with Matt and Greg Van Beber, who own a label printing company. The partnership gave the 35-year-old a manufacturing solution with compliance and ISO-certified capabilities. It underscores the notion that T-Shirt Tycoon’s success isn’t attributable to a single man – extending to the company’s 50-plus employees who handle the day-to-day logistics and foster a culture where prospective employees interview with the entire team. “I get to architect this philosophy with a lot of key members on my team,” says Walterscheid. “It’s easy to attract good employees now because we’ve bred the environment we need to find good talent.”

Walterscheid has grand plans for the future of T-Shirt Tycoon, with a goal of becoming a $40 million company over the next five years. The company is investing into digital capabilities to both streamline the customer experience and enable clients to design on their own. Meanwhile, Walterscheid says the company is built to stay hyper-reactive to the latest fashion trends while always willing to educate decorators on how to print on its blank goods. “The dots are all the same,” he says. “I’m just lining them up in a different way than everyone else has.” – CJM