Thanks to two sets of AnaJet owners: Susan Aplin and Gene Wodzicki of Color Image Designs/Road Warrior Graphix and Chuck Northcutt of The Digi Guy/Creative Promotions and DTG Ready. Both enterprises use the mPower mP5 and mP10 direct to garment printers in their mobile operations. They contributed significantly to a feature article in April 2013 Impressions Magazine.
Thanks to their experiences, I was able to write up a brief “best practices” checklist for taking your direct to garment printer (and other garment dec technology) on the road.
Both Chuck and Susan & Gene’s businesses are their primary livelihoods. Without divulging specifics, they have definitely outgrown the “garage” phase yet they take their leisure time very seriously. Susan and Gene recently spent five weeks in Italy after about a year of being road warriors.
They are also proof that a healthy business model transcends the purchase of a great printer. You need to be willing to plan meticulously, master graphic design, and be in sync with your target market. I encourage you to look at their setups and business models to replicate what you can.
The top ten list is just a start. Of course there are myriad other things that a garment decorator or promo products distributor needs to keep in mind. The point of the article is to show that ANYONE who is motivated and able to master the basics can achieve this level of success.
Click the image to go to the digital edition of Impressions.
Add Value, Secure Your Future – So goes the heading of the feature article in the March 2013 issue of In Plant Graphics. This magazine is dedicated to businesses and institutions that have major printing facilities, usually for internal customers, but often for external customers as well.
No kidding – we didn’t know Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools was going to be interviewed for this piece, but we definitely appreciate the positive review of the mPower mP10.
The main point of the article is about diversifying the capabilities of your in-plant print shop. This doesn’t just apply to major educational institutions or large corporations who sell books or generate millions of pages of print. Countless customer experiences tell us the same thing over and over again:
If you’re an experienced commercial printer, screen printer or garment decorator, you are sitting on top of a latent market of at least $100,000 or more in gross sales of digitally printed garments.
This is true no matter what direct to garment printer you may have an affinity for. Whether you manage to achieve this profitably is due in large part to your understanding of your market, graphic design skill and your relationship with the equipment and supplies that you use to print.
What’s great about the school system is that they didn’t set out with a dollar amount of payoff in mind – they purchased with the intent of cutting costs and improving their agility. One year down the road they do expect payoff for the mP10, but they have already improved the reputation and status of their in-plant team. Printing for 159 schools is no small undertaking. We hope the CMS GPC stays in touch as their client schools’ needs grow!
Susan and Gene came all the way across the country in their awesome rig to exhibit their products at a series of fairs, including the Los Angeles County Fair, on August 30. We begged them to show us the interior of the trailer so we could see how they operate. They really produce all types of imaging products and their truck and trailer wraps really say it all.
What continues to astonish us is that Susan made the leap to mPower digital shirt printing and partnering with a commercial sign veteran on such a substantial enterprise, without having a track record in screen printing or other garment dec. She kept referring to the printer as her “little moneymaker” and the last photo is one she sent us, clearly happy with the results.
While they were stopped and having Tim Bellante, our training director, take a look under the hood of the mPower, a random person walking by asked to purchase some custom shirts. Our president and national sales manager were standing nearby and were a little stunned by this.
I especially like their messaging: If You Can Imagine It, We Can Print It. Sums it up about right.
Susan Asplin of Color Image Designs (CID) & Gene Wodzicki of Road Warrior Graphix (RWG) have merged together to bring a whole new meaning to “mobile design shop”. The mobile business consists of an AnaJet mPower mP10 for making shirts and and a Roland VersaCamm for making signs. Susan and Gene tour events to sell signage and custom printed t-shirts. CID has also launched an online design studio, powered by InkSoft.
Why invest in direct to garment? Susan says, “I’ve never considered screen printing because I wanted to get ahead of the competition with the latest technology and offer what no other company could offer.” She spent six months researching different DTG printers on the market. “My greatest challenge was stepping away from the corporate world and becoming my own boss,“ she says.
“After months of research, and speaking with several companies, I felt the new mPower was the best solution, hands down. I knew there might be challenges with ramping up on a new technology but I knew that I would get a jump on the competition. The quality of the prints and graphics give you customers that will return for life.”
Susan, Gene and Heather wrote to AnaJet several months ago to relate their extremely positive experience with AnaJet University.
How does the business operate today? Heather Valen, co-owner of CID, handles the business accounts & online orders from their home office in Lutz, FL. Susan and her partner Gene take the second mP10 on the road. In the mobile design shop, they can travel to events and print either shirts or signs. This gives them the advantage of a one-stop shop, enabling CID to sell shirts to the public, make signs for businesses, and entice other vendors to use their services as they travel. (You can see a Viper One pre-treatment machine and a Roland VersaCamm in the setup photos.)
Never seeing herself as a salesperson, she says, “Thanks to the prints from an mPower, the product sells itself. Our goal is to expand and purchase many more mPowers.”
Andy Buchholz has been in the printing industry since 1989. He recently has been building his business, Eastern Shore Signs in Cape Charles, Virginia, mainly with a large number of jobs for routing and vinyl cutting. To diversify his product lines, he bought an AnaJet mPower mP5 garment printer.
According to Andy, almost overnight, the AnaJet printer enabled a 35% increase in business. With around 3,500 garments printed since March 2012, Andy realized $21,000 in total business sales in the month of June with orders distributed about 50% signs and 50% garment and other fabric printing on the mPower. In fact Andy signed on to a webinar recently and let me know that he had crossed the 4,300 mark and was still printing like mad.
Eastern Shore Signs is essentially a one-man operation in a small town of about 1,200 people. To an outsider, this might make his explosive success pretty remarkable.
Andy says that he gets a lot of business from retail stores in nearby Virginia Beach, businesses that cater to tourists, restaurants, and lately a coffee company. He also discovered a significant volume of business after joining the Chamber of Commerce – beginning with a $1,200 job immediately upon joining.
So the secret is not so secret – he’s marketing a low-cost product through viral means — word-of-mouth and Facebook — to industries that thrive on short runs, on-demand fulfillment and personalization.
As a veteran large format and inkjet printer operator, Andy is amazed with the mPower digital apparel printer’s performance, reliability and ease of use, especially how simple it was for him to get into full production right away. He’s also a fan of AnaRIP, the proprietary software that comes with every mPower.
With his strong background in printing, and having used the very first RIP programs in large format, Andy say that AnaRIP is, “Simple, yet powerful.” Exactly what we have been striving for. Many thanks to Andy, and check back for the full story on our blog next week!
Check out this YouTube video just posted by a new AnaJet customer, SLG Art Boutiki. They’re using the mPower mP5 digital apparel printer to print a full-color band shirt for a customer. They expect to print them on the spot for concerts.
The mP5 appears to be running in fine mode with high saturation, so the print takes just under a minute. Imagine what they could do with twice as many print heads on the mP10. They can be found at www.artboutiki.com. Good luck, folks!
Update: SLG added a page dedicated to their d-t-g product offering. They posted some basic single-unit pricing. Might be nice to check out how they’re marketing this as far as verbiage.
They communicate the value to the end customer perfectly:
“Unlike screen printing, digital apparel printing is a high resolution, full-color process. Basically anything you can get out of a laser printer or desktop inkjet printer you can get out of our new DTG machine. It prints equally well on dark or light shirts (dark shirts cost more though) and unlike screen printing the finished product does not feel like a giant plastic shield on your chest. Examples of shirts we are selling in our gallery can be seen here.”
I hope to see their gallery expand over time. Good luck folks!