Tom Butler, Founder and President of Ink Throwers, started his company in 2004 with two Challenger automatics and a hand sample machine. In 2015, Tom brought his five operations under one roof, moving Ink Throwers to a new 200,000 square-foot facility just south of the San Diego/Tijuana border. "Today we have twenty carousels, two belt machines eight neck label machines, along with a dye house,” said Butler. “And we do hand dyeing, burnouts, treatments, and every type of specialty blank you can think of."
Ink Throwers is certified with major licensors like Disney, Levis, and Marvel Comics, and the company focuses on printing for mass-volume stores, including Target, Walmart, Nordstrom’s, Sears, Macy's, and JC Penny. "One of the deciding factors in getting big is partnering with the customers," said Butler. "When they have a need for me to produce more on a weekly basis or a monthly basis, they make a commitment to me that they'll divert that amount of workload to me, which then allows me to have the confidence to go to somebody like M&R and request more equipment.
"Everything in my company is M&R because I know it holds the highest standards, the best productivity, and the best registration. We're pretty much making our workhorse the Challenger III because that one machine can do everything from a one color to an eighteen color, and it's been the driving force behind our success and our business."
Within a year Butler plans to go "as green as possible" by processing all laundry department water from in their water treatment plant so that it can be reused. He also plans to add more automated equipment to his finishing department. "The stores are requiring us to do a lot more of the handling. We're doing all the price tickets, all of the stickers, the hangers, the poly bags, and that's an area that we're going to try and work on going more automated with."
Butler’s career in screen printing began in 1983. After high school, he learned how to print on a manual screen printing press. Later, he installed and repaired equipment in Southern California before managing large garment decorating operations in the US and Mexico.
"I had the fortunate opportunity to run large factories for other people, and got a lot of guidance, and self-taught too,” said Butler. “I learned by running the production floor and finding out what worked and what didn't work, and constantly reinventing the wheel. As a contract printer, every penny counts. It's really tight margins, and we're all doing the best we can to be efficient, lean, and smart."
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