Featured Screen Printing Shop: Printed Threads
Can you tell me a little bit about your screen printing shop?
“Printed Threads was started in 2010 in my garage, so this year we are six years old. And we’ve grown a lot, very quickly. We ordered four ROQs from you guys this year, so basically we’ve gone from one manual press in a garage to four automatics with a 10,000 square foot warehouse.
Most of our growth was in the first four years. We’ve leveled out over the past few years, but we’ve been reported by Inc. 500 as a fastest growing company: #826. It was cool to be recognized for that.
Like Ryan, I toured in rock bands for about six years. I ended up going to college and getting a bachelor’s degree in music, and I became a cable guy until I found my career. I was one of the older graduates because I toured for six years. I graduated in 2009 into the middle of a recession, and you can’t just go out and get a job like they told you. So, I stayed at the cable company as middle management and just kind of hated my job. I was looking for something better.
I remember my first press was a brand called, Micro Perfect, based out of California. It was essentially a ten pin registration system. The screens came down, and the pins locked the screen into the same place. I bought the press in California, and soon after moved back to Texas. I needed a place to put my press – and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I had a friend with a bike shop, Kevin Tsukahara, and he let me store my press in his shop. We just figured it out together. I still have some prints we made from back then that still hold up and are good, which is crazy. Back then we were printing for some big bands. We sold thousands of shirts for this band called, Rufio out of the back of this bike shop, and they ended up in Hot Topic. We thought we were pretty big time. Of course, a little more humility has sunk in, since then. You can’t be on top of the world all the time.
We were doing that together for awhile, and while working as a cable guy, I thought I could go back and do something like that again. I approached my wife, and we decided we could get a small loan. Six months later I quit my job and started Printed Threads full time. Through my experience, having been in a rock band and meeting people in college, I was able to play off of those relationships, and that’s what helped my business grow.
All along, we’ve kept a high level of integrity. If we screw up, we admit it. I think that’s what contributed to our growth, just being kind and easy people to work with.”
What kind of ink do you print with?
“We started off printing mostly water based and discharge. That’s where we got our footing. I already knew how to print plastisol inks from my experience before. But people were starting to see the water based ink in stores, and the older shops in town weren’t doing it, so we said ‘let’s do something different.’
We were doing all of the water based printing in town. Over time, we figured out that if we needed to print a particular color – like the Facebook blue – we needed not to do discharge. It was evident to us that if we are going to print for big companies, we needed to go without discharge, to get specific colors.
At this point, we print 50 percent plastisol and 50 percent water based inks. Some shops are trying to go green with their printing, but it’s actually, worse on the environment to be printing with our gas dryer.”
What kind of prints do you specialize in?
“We’ve printed for Toms shoes; we’ve printed for Kansas (the band) and The Toadies (another rock bands). We do a lot of big music festivals, and some big restaurants, such as Flying Saucer. Since we are in Texas, we also print for a lot of churches and get a lot of business off of that.
Our wheelhouse is 500 t-shirt runs. We definitely, do the occasional 20,000 piece run, but I would rather have lots of small clients than lots of big clients. That way if someone leaves us it’s not devastating.”
What are your most proud moments as a screen printing shop?
“We print for a company called Tumbleweed textiles. Pretty much everywhere you go you will see someone wearing their shirts. We were watching the baseball game, and the camera panned out, and you could see someone sitting in the front row wearing a shirt we printed.
Every time we see someone out there wearing a shirt that we printed. We’ve touched so many people’s lives.”
What kind of press(es) do you have?
“M&R Sportsman Press, ROQ YOU P10, ROQ YOU P14 and a ROQ YOU P14.”
What made you choose a ROQ?
“We went with ROQ in the first place because a lot of the engineering is really smart. The ease of changing out screens is fantastic. I like that they are gentle and smart machines, where their competitors are like brute force machines. I like that the pallets are level, which aids in having a great quality print, definitely with water based but also with plastisol and four colored plastisol prints. The level pallets are important to have even ink deposits.
“Beyond that, I have a great relationship with Ryonet. Ryan and I are in a similar place in life, with growing businesses, children and similar things going on in our lives and that just strengthen our relationship. I want to do business with people I have a great relationship with. That’s not to say I don’t have great relationships with people in my other distributors, but the equipment quality started to outweigh that part of the equation.”
When did you get your ROQ?
“We didn’t get our first ROQ until February of this year. This is all very new. We had three M&R Sportsman when we started transitioning. Nick Wood and I have been friends for a long time. We both have this common bond of riding bikes. I think whenever I started printing, back in 2010, I went to a trade show and someone I knew told me I needed to go meet up with Nick Wood because he was also a bike rider. For years even though Ryonet wasn’t my go-to for all my other products, we stayed friends.
Last summer I started teaching the SPE classes, so I spent a little time in Vancouver and hung out there both times. Ryan also spent some time down in Texas, and we started talking about what it would look like. Through those conversations, equipment was born. Everything was signed off on in February.”
How do you feel the ROQ has affected your printing?
“Speed is a little better. I know the presses are capable of moving a little faster, but I don’t know if we are moving them faster because there’s the human element we don’t want to mess up. I like being able to lift the heads up and change the screens out that way. It is a lot easier and more ergonomic to be able to lift the heads up and take the screens out. It makes cleaning the screens easier. If we have a bad test print, we can just lift the head up and wipe down the screens.
The ergonomics of the machine are way better. A few things are hard to get used to. Of the 99 things I love about the ROQ, there are a few things that could be better in the programming. But there’s definitely an ease of use upgrade there.
To be honest, since I own this company I don’t print very often anymore, but I went down in April and decided to figure out how the machine works. I really enjoyed it myself. I know that my press operators that have transitioned from training on the M&R to the ROQ also think that it’s a step up from what we were dealing with before.”
If you like this, visit their website and check out Printed Thread’s instagram feed: @printedthreads
They also have a totally rad shirt of the month club called Petey’s Secret Shirt Society that sends you a new t-shirt with an original design in the mail every month. Petey is a play off the initials of their company: Printed Threads.
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