Editor's Letter: Dream Come True

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you buy? (Put me down for a house on the beach and a Macallan 40-year-old scotch.) Now, if you are a screen-printing shop owner with an unlimited budget, what would you get? Possibilities: A massive warehouse, automatic everything, and an army of robots to do the work and never complain.

We indulged in that fantasy (except for the robots) with this month’s cover story, Dream Shop. We’ve created three different setups – a small shop, a medium-sized shop and a screen room – that are technically sound and extremely productive.

Money was no object in our hypothetical scenario, but instead of creating something completely far-fetched, we’ve crafted layouts that are optimized yet attainable. We’ve peppered each schematic with loads of useful information (example: how much space you want between your press and dryer). And we’ve outfitted our spaces with cutting-edge equipment that is employed by elite shops today.

“We hope these lessons can help make your shop better. In short, our Dream Shop can very well be your reality.”

The fundamentals of shop layout is a topic that is always timely and useful. For one, newer screen-printing shops enter the industry all the time, and don’t know how to reach their peak efficiency. But even veterans don’t get it right – an issue exacerbated by the on-demand, rush mentality atmosphere of business. “I think in the last several years, the pressure to be as productive and efficient as possible has increased,” says David C. Zimmer, textile products manager for equipment company M&R. “If you went back 20 years ago, you could get away with what some might deem ‘shoddy business practices.’ There was enough profit built into the product that you could cover up a lot of flaws. I think these days, that isn’t as much the case. The market has become more competitive, and the people who aren’t paying attention to all of their systems are the ones that are going to find themselves in hard times.”

That means not only having the right set-up, but also the right equipment. The scads of automated equipment in our story underscore the changing nature of a profession where everything can still be done by hand. That technology can kick your production into hyperdrive, but certainly comes with added upfront costs. In our article, we’ll tell you the right time to add digital essentials like automatic presses and computer-to-screen systems. In addition, we’ve identified “Splurge” items (modular oval presses, automatic screen washers) that production managers pant over.

Lastly, to back up the principles we discuss in Dream Shop, we feature eight different shops who have their own dream features – everything from snazzy showrooms and custom-built drying cabinets to building a shop and outfitting it with personality. Each has a message you can use in your shop, and illustrates why these businesses have found long-term success.

We hope the lessons from our cover story can help make your shop better. In short, our Dream Shop can very well be your reality.

Thanks for reading,

What’s In My Closet?

Each issue, we ask our readers a simple question: What is your favorite branded apparel item in your closet? Send in a photo of you and your favorite garment, and tell us in a paragraph why you love it. We run one submission each issue, and that lucky winner receives a $25 Visa Gift Card.

This issue, our submission comes from Michelle B. Peebles, vice president of sales & marketing for Walker-Clay (asi/354530): “My favorite garment is the Dominator Waterproof Jacket (TT86W) from alphabroder (asi/34063). We chose these as our company ‘team’ jackets for a second-quarter promotion challenge. It was a great kick-off to get everyone on board. I love how the colors tie in perfectly, and we get lots of compliments on the unique logo position running parallel to the pocket. The smart functionality of this piece is really what gives it my vote as favorite; it’s lightweight and breathable with a longer back that keeps everything covered, making it the perfect piece for travel or for leaving at the office to be prepared for the unique New England weather changes. I’d also pick the Sports Performance Hat (1084) from Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125). From the fit and material to the reflective sandwich and the fun logo position, this one is definitely an easy favorite!”