Plan Now for THREADX 2020
On Feb. 23-25, the industry will gather in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the annual THREADX conference, powered by SGIA. While it is billed as the event designed by and for apparel decorators, it goes far beyond just the traditional screen print world, with a strong focus on business operations that everyone, no matter what segment of the printing industry they fall into, can benefit from.
Justin Lawrence, owner of Oklahoma Shirt Company, and the vice chairman on the SGIA Apparel Decorators committee, which is in charge of the education lineup for THREADX, notes that this year, “we have an all-new speaker lineup that I would really encourage people to check out.”
One of the highlights, he notes, will be keynote speaker Scott Wozniak, the CEO of Swoz Leadership, who will focus on how businesses of all types and sizes can build — and maintain — a healthy and profitable corporate culture.
“Anyone with a business, from small one-to-two person operations to 200-plus employees, will benefit from Scott,” Lawrence says. “He has worked for lots of public companies he consults for and helps with problems they have. So, he has loads of information we can garner from him that can instantly be applied in any business.”
Another of Lawrence’s can’t-miss keynote sessions will be one from Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert. This session will focus on the online comments that every business today has to grapple with, and how to better manage customer relations now that “customer service is a spectator sport.”
Something for Everyone
Another committee member and keynote speaker, Peter Lovelace, GM of Booster Spirit Wear, was an attendee for the past several years, before becoming more involved with the process and event. The things that originally attracted him to THREADX, he says, are still very true today.
“I would say what attracted me first was the conference, by design, seemed to be a bit more entrepreneurial and business focused, and less manufacturing and product focused.” In the printing industry, he says, it is still hard to find events that are more geared toward helping shops become better business owners, rather than educating on a new technology or printing process. And while those are equally necessary, having an event where attendees can really dig deep and learn about topics to help them manage and run the business side more profitably alongside peers with many of the same challenges, is a strong draw.
“And while [manufacturing and products are] an important part of the business, that’s not what I spend a majority of my time on,” Lovelace says. “Looking at a list of attendees and the people it draws in, they seemed to be more of the innovators in the print community. We pride ourselves on being an innovative company, and wanted to be in communion with people like that — to be challenged in a healthy way.” THREADX, he says, does just that.
So much so, that in addition to joining the steering committee, this year he will also be giving his own presentation on corporate culture. “In a lot of ways, there are still a lot of small businesses more focused on bottom line than people at times [in this industry],” says Lovelace. “But case studies and history show that to just take a focus on bottom line is a very short-sighted approach. I want to talk about the importance of organizational health and culture.”
But while some events or speakers might simply talk about why something is important, Lovelace feels it is equally critical to give concrete examples, and then specific steps that attendees will be able to go home and implement immediately.
“I’m going to give really specific examples of how to activate this, regardless of budget,” Lovelace says. “I’m going to be opening the vault and sharing my own best practices and failures in how we’ve tried to love people well, and ultimately grow business.”
Another speaker planning to take a hands-on approach to their session this year is Victor Peña, the founder, CEO, and president of OmniPrint International, which is also joining THREADX for the first time as a Diamond Sponsor.
For Peña, one of the biggest glaring missing pieces in many print businesses is the ability and knowledge to handle social media for everything from connecting to customers to handling customer service. “I like to do stuff where I feel I can bring value to people,” he says, “and one of the biggest challenges we saw where I could do that, especially in this industry, is that a lot of social media stuff is missing. I can bring some value on that side of things.”
Peña, like Lovelace, plans to give concrete examples from his own business journey, including what worked — and why — and what didn’t. He plans to ensure that attendees have an action plan with steps they can take as soon as they leave the event, rather than just give vague admonitions to do more social media.
“If you’re on a mission to grow your business and learn about how I grew OmniPrint from zero to where we are now … and learn how social media and exposure can help grow your business, then this is the place to be,” Peña notes.
Overall, says Lovelace, this year’s THREADX agenda is designed to help attendees, “build [their] brand and engage a tribe of really loyal followers.” He goes on to note that, “THREADX is more than just another print or product conference. It’s really where great ideas come to be shared and activated, and it is probably the most collaborative of any conference I’ve been to, whether print or just general business.”
Lawrence echoed that sentiment, noting that THREADX is a place for business owners to learn about, “how to work on [their] business, and how to work better within [their] business.”
“Then lots of tips and tricks from people who don’t have anything to do with screen printing at all — we have speakers and content creators that are agnostic of trade, and business, no matter what industry you’re in, would benefit from hearing from them,” he notes.
For anyone on the fence about attending THREADX 2020, the jam-packed educational agenda alone — and this only touches the surface of what attendees will experience — should be enough to tip the scales in favor of heading out to Arizona for a few days in the middle of winter. And when the networking opportunities are thrown in — a chance to connect with and learn from peers experiencing many of the same challenges, and who can share their own successes and failures — it becomes a can’t-miss event.