Riley Hopkins presses have been a staple in the screen printing industry for decades. How did the brand start? Who is the man behind the wheel of the machine that fuels your drive? Strap in: you’re about to find out.
Riley Hopkins visits Ryonet HQ with his race car. Photo courtesy of Chris Drury.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Riley Hopkins had never been afraid to take risks. So, when he snuck into a garage one afternoon to get a glimpse of his father’s factory team Aston Martin, his first thought was not whether he should do what he was about to do, but rather, whether he could. Even though he knew the award-winner was capable of hitting 8,000 rpm, he hadn’t personally seen it go beyond 5,000. Eyeballing its sleek profile, the custom twin exhaust pipes his father had installed himself, Riley knew just where he would take it to find out.
The engine roared as he opened up the throttle on the highway to Bainbridge Island, WA. Third gear. 128 miles per hour. The sound echoed off the bay. His heart started beating wildly. When he shifted into fourth, he thought it might explode. And then, there he was. In full flight. 160 miles per hour, 8,000 RPM. It was then that Riley knew. No risk, no reward.
From that moment forward, Riley would never slow down. He went into advertising to fund his passion for racing, combining lessons he learned watching his father build cars from the ground up with a flair for design to fabricate his own. By the time he was offered a commission to develop a new screen printing press, Riley had amassed both lithography skills from his day job in advertising and shop prowess from his side occupation building custom vehicles. It was with confidence that Riley took another risk and accepted the challenge of creating a machine that could print four colors in tight registration, with wet on wet printing.
It wouldn’t be easy. T-shirts were a whole different animal than advertisements. He agonized over how to solve the problems of imprecise rubylith hand-cut stencils and poorly-stretched mesh on rickety wooden screens. How could he reduce the weight of the press to ensure the carousel could move consistently, while handling the demands of the materials? How would he turn a beast of a machine into something light, precise, fast? His press needed to be less like the silk screen presses of old and more like...a race car.
Riley Hopkins signing the first 300 press.
Riley built his first screen printing press for a kite company next door to the garage where he worked on his race cars. Others heard about the press and wanted their own. Riley’s business took off from there.
Riley Hopkins cared about quality. And he wasn’t afraid to take risks or think differently on how to get there. He believed in taking things out of the garage and putting them to the test on the road. It’s a tradition we’ve continued for more than 40 years as we honor his legacy of crafting fine machinery that’s built to last.
“Having our hands in every part of the design and every aspect of its build and support allows us to control our quality and service the way we want to,” Ryan Moor said.
From the garages we started in to the garages you print in, Riley Hopkins has changed the face of the screen printing industry forever. It’s a brand we are proud to manufacture and support.