Founder, Mark Doyle, discusses the genesis and growth of Rags of Honor, a Chicago-based screen printing company dedicated to hiring homeless and unemployed veterans.
“We are currently, probably, the largest employer of homeless veterans in the country. We’ve hired 33 since we opened our doors,” says Mark. “None of them want a handout, by the way, they just want a hand up.”
Mark’s first six employees learned how to screen print from a former Marine who had his own screen printing business. “For nine months we had no shop. I rented that small press. And then in the eleventh month, I got a thousand square feet, and Rich Hoffman donated a Sidewinder (SIDEWINDER Manual Screen Printing Press) to us so we could get going.”
Rags of Honor has since moved to their current ten-thousand square foot facility, printing shirts for local businesses, Big Ten conference schools, and professional sports teams. Says Mark, “I just had a sense that if we’re gonna go, we need to roll the dice, we need to get a big ten-arm machine. So, I called Rich and said, ‘Can I trade this back?’ and he said, ‘No, you can’t trade it back. I’m going to send you a 10-arm [DIAMONDBACK Automatic Screen Printing Press], and you pay me when you can.'”
“Potentially we could be doing a lot of work for professional sports teams, and building our own brand and online store,” says Mark. “I think there’s certainly enough work there to just help us grow this business.”