Dave Filip of Bimm Ridder Sportswear tells how, in 1988, he and his partners—with no experience in screen printing—purchased a “hole-in-the-wall” shop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and turned it into a thriving business. Starting with a contract to provide shirts and caps to the local Minor League Baseball franchise, Bimm Ridder went on to supply screen-printed and embroidered apparel to nearly every Minor League Baseball team in America, as well as many Major League teams. In 2012, Minor League Baseball named Bimm Ridder as its first ever Supplier of the Year.
But it was a rocky start. As Dave says of the move from bar owners to clueless screen printers, “I didn’t know what a squeegee was, and I was going to be production manager.” To get up to speed, he read everything he could and attended screen printing seminars whenever he could find time.
Now, with over a quarter-century of experience in the industry, Dave has a wealth of knowledge to share with aspiring screen printers—and with established screen printers looking for ways to get more done. At the top of his list is pre-registration. His advice: “Buy it and use it. This is so damn easy I could do it with a bucket over my head.” (That wasn’t hyperbole. Click here
to see Dave register an automatic press blindfolded with M&R’s Tri-Loc Registration System)
Dave also touts the importance of automation, cross training, and on-time delivery. According to Dave, there was resistance when he wanted the company to purchase an automatic screen printing press. The resistance was even greater when he wanted a computer-to-screen imaging system: “No one was for it except me,” he says. But when they lost it in the flood of 2008, “…the first thing people were asking, ‘When are we getting our computer to screen?’”
And speaking of the flood: Dave describes how the predicted “couple of inches of water” turned into a perfect storm that wiped out Bimm Ridder and much of downtown Cedar Rapids. But rather than take the insurance money and walk away, Dave and his partners, with help from people in the industry and the Cedar Rapids community, brought an even better Bimm Ridder back to life.
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