Do Your Homework
When it comes to adding garment printing to your shop, overwhelmingly the experts stress that the single best piece of advice they can give is to not waste the opportunity that SGIA Expo provides to do a great deal of research about multiple processes, companies and technologies all at once.
“Allow yourself and colleagues plenty of time to explore the SGIA Expo,” says Ken Siecinski, Program Manager Activewear & Outerwear, Top Value Fabrics (Booth 2155). “Schedule yourself time to speak with qualified representatives of fabric, print system, ink and finishing equipment manufacturers and partners. Develop a strategy for how you want to achieve your objectives for visiting the Expo. Visit the SGIA Booth (2245) to help assist you and guide you with recommendations to fit your needs, goals and agenda to maximize your time.”
“Knowledge-base is not everything, it’s the only thing in the textile market!” agrees Evan Lyons, Regional Sales Manager, INX International Ink Co. (Booth 1919). “The textile market requires a certain skill level with a supplier that can help you select the right quality of printer, ink, substrates and heating devices. Consolidation of multiple product lines makes the supplier a fully integrated solution provider for your needs. Lastly, the most important factor is value-add of technical support know how, to help resolve issues quickly (inevitably issues will arise) and help get you back in the game.”
“Research everything!” says Lily Hunter, Product Manager, Textiles and Consumables, Roland DGA (Booth 601). “Do your homework when it comes to all the necessary elements for getting into garment printing — from the equipment needed, to options for training and support. It’s important to partner with companies that will support the growth and success of your business, long after you make your initial investment.”
“Do not only look on the cost side but also on technologies (e.g. sublimation papers) that can help you to produce more efficiently with a better quality,” notes Dirk Hörnschemeyer of the Felix Schoeller Group (Booth 3274). It is important to research every aspect of the space before jumping in with both feet.
“Understand the different pieces needed to achieve the result: equipment, consumables, information, software, know-how and a distributor who is knowledgeable about all these components,” agrees Henri Coëme, Global Sales Manager, Imaging Products, Hix Corporation (Booths 2900 and 2901).
That said, don’t get overwhelmed, or dismiss this niche as too difficult, says Matt Davies, National Sales Director, New Business Development, Oki Data Americas (Booth 2233). “Getting started in the garment printing segment of the industry is not as intimidating or difficult as it might appear at first glance. In fact, it is much easier, accessible and more cost-effective than ever before. With a modest investment, anyone from the largest of print shops to the smaller mom-and-pop shops can be up and running in no time at all. What was once quite the commitment in time, investment and physical space for the equipment is now almost ‘plug and play.’ It’s also important to use your print manufacturer as a resource, leveraging their partnerships with paper and media companies, as well as peripheral hardware manufacturers. Most manufacturers are keen to share their knowledge and recommend the best supplies for excellent results.”