Greg Kitson Shares 45 Years of Screen Printing and Embroidery Wisdom

Greg Kitson Shares 45 Years of Screen Printing and Embroidery Wisdom

– Hi, my name’s Greg Kitson, from Minds Eye Graphics
in Decatur, Indiana. I’ve been in the
industry since 1974 when I started putting
heat transfers on t-shirts. Started embroidering, excuse me, started screen printing in 1980, embroidering in 1990. Oh, that’s easy,
number one thing that I want to tell people to do is make sure they have
fun doing what they do. If they’re an artist, make sure they
concentrate on art work. If they’re a problem solver, make sure they work on that. If they like the
mechanical ability of decorating with screen
printing or embroidery, make sure that
they’re doing that. For me, I get the
greatest satisfaction out of turning a pile of
blank shirts into a check. That’s what really turns me on. One of the biggest challenges for somebody that wants
to grow their business is, all of a sudden, the
business is controlling them, instead of the other way around. With a smaller business, when they’re doing manual, whether it’s screen
printing, or embroidery, or DTG, and you’ve only got
a few shirts to get out, one person can do everything, and you can multitask
and get it all done. As you start to grow, and you accept larger orders, that ratio of time
responsibility changes, and, all of a sudden,
you have to have an additional person that cares as much about the
product as you do. Now, one of the best reason to buy an automatic
screen printing press or buy a larger
embroidery operation, go to two head or four, or go to two, four, or six heads is to avoid having to hire
that additional person. But that only goes for so long. At some point, you
have to be able to share the passion. You have to be able
to get somebody that will work the
same way you do, that you can
communicate easily with, so you can concentrate on
doing what you enjoy doing. Yeah, managing
employees is the least desirable thing that
I do in my business. Sharing the passion
is really tough to do. The best employees
that I’ve ever got have all been on recommendations of people that I know and trust. Somebody that I’m a friend with, or have a family
relationship with, somebody who’s got kids that do the same
thing that my kids do, that sort of thing, rather than putting an ad up. Never really been
lucky with Craigslist or in the olden days, in putting something in
the local classified ads. All of our best employees
have come from recommendations of people that knew me
and knew our business. Oh, one of the biggest mistakes that most shop owners make is they try to grow too fast, and they try to do things that they’re not
comfortable doing. They get away from
their core competencies. Somebody will come
in and offer them the seduction of fast
money doing something, and they go, sure,
we’ll do that, and, all of a sudden,
they’re doing something that isn’t what they
started out to do. And they realize, the
majority of our industry, especially with screen printing, as you grow, it’s all
about the logistics and the data management, much more than it is
about the decoration. I was just talking to
my wife last night, as I was getting ready
to come out here, that there was some
beautiful artwork that had been done
by some people that was put up on Facebook, and I lamented that
we hadn’t been able to print anything like that because our customers weren’t
willing to pay for it. We’ve gotten away from
what we use to be good at which was really good
pure photo process. And, now, we haven’t
done any of that to the point I’m not sure
my equipment would do it because we haven’t maintained it to be able to do that. Owners’ ability to listen probably has more to do
with it than anything. If a customer comes in and says I want this, this, and this, if the owner or the
screen print manager starts saying we’re gonna do it this way, this way,
this way, this way, they’re not listening
to the customer. So you don’t really
develop top notch work. So, if the staff, and the owner, and the management
listen to their customer, I’m gonna say that’s probably the biggest tell-tale for having good product go out the door. Easy, and that’s not a
very good word to use. What I’m gonna say
is the best way to develop your business
and grow your business is to do some
demographic research. Look at what you do
that you do well, that your core competencies are. Are you doing personalization, and numbering, and teams, and fulfillment, and
you’re doing that well? If so, there are lots
of other customers that would want to
have those services, but it’s very competitive. If you’ve got something
else where you’ve developed your own program and
you own the market, you’re probably better off. So, if you would go
out and use the example of somebody who’s core business is a combination of screen
printing and embroidery, and they sell a lot to
small medical offices. So a small medical
office is usually identified by a couple
of professionals, a half a dozen
semi-professionals, or skilled people, nurses,
veterinary assistants, dental hygienists,
those types of things, and then a half a
dozen office people. If you got that figured out, there are lots of
other companies that have that some
organizational scale where they’ve got a
couple of professionals. So, if you’re good
at doing something for dentists, and
doctor’s office, and veterinarians that
work with and on animals, you can probably
do the same thing for physical therapists. Where somebody goes
out and has an injury and goes to a physical
therapy facility for rehab. A couple of physical therapist
that have got license, several skilled
professionals that help them, and some office people. So if you can identify
other industries that have the same
demographic characteristics, that’s an easy way to
grow your business, and you’re not fighting
every other printer for that business, and you’re not taking it
away from somebody else. Oh, the biggest bottleneck, I’m gonna go back to that again, is art approvals
on a timely basis. In our business segment, three days is what our
commitment to our customers is. And that’s three days
after art approvals, and garments, and all
the paperwork is in. And many times, on the
second and third day, we’re still waiting
for an art approval that was sent out on the
morning of the first day that, for some reason, they
haven’t gotten back to us. So, we do a lot of, in our shop, we do a lot of,
what my staff calls, customer maintenance
or account maintenance. Sometimes they refer
to it as babysitting, but we know that that’s
the business that we’re in, and that we have to do that. And if we don’t
get art approvals on a timely basis,
things slow down. The second most
proficient bottleneck, or the second most
common bottleneck has to do with screen-making and not having screens
when they’re needed. And my philosophy when
I work with people is always tomorrow’s
screens today. You’re screen guy does
not leave the shop until every screen
for tomorrow’s work is done and set in stage. So the press operator
never has the excuse that says I don’t have screens. Well, that’s a tough one because a lot of what our
industry is is a craft. And there are a
hundred different ways to do pretty much everything that we do in our industry. Standards within the
screen printing industry are something that’s
been talked about since screen printing started. And the screen
printing that you and I are comfortable doing right now really started in
the 1920s and 1930s with military t-shirts where it said Army or
Marines on the front of it, those types of things. And then it grew out of that. Screen printing was developed
much sooner than that, but the mass production
was military items. And, at that point, you
always had mil spec, military specifications,
that said the shirt had to do this, and
survive launderability, and those types of things. And then as more people
got into it as a craft, the specifications just
never were developed, and there were a
hundred different ways of doing each of these things. So, you can go to a
imprinted sportswear show, and learn a hundred
different ways of doing these types of things. You can go to a screen
printing SGIA show, which is now Print United,
and learn much more about the very technical
screen printing which is electronics and
those types of things, but in the garment industry imprinted sportswear show
is probably the best, and what you see on the forums, many, many different forums, the Facebook groups,
those types of things, but whenever you’re working
with a Facebook group or a forum, you have to realize that everybody is an
expert behind the keyboard, and you’ve got to learn to read and then apply what’s
applicable to your shop, and throw everything else away. And, sometimes, the
only way to do that is to try it and find out. So, there’s a lot of good
information on the forums. There’s a lot of bad
information on the forums. You just gotta,
again, dissect it, and throw away
what doesn’t work.

2 thoughts on “Greg Kitson Shares 45 Years of Screen Printing and Embroidery Wisdom

  1. Great video ! Keep hustling man this channel is gonna be big one day. Quality videos with quality content:)

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