Jason LaBlue tells how, in 2008, he and his wife started “goofing around” in their garage with a single-head manual press and a flash dryer. Within two months, they had stepped up to a six-head manual press and “started to grow like wildfire.”
In 2009, they bought a 1989 ten-color Challenger I, the first automatic press made by M&R. That press had produced 120,000 impressions in 20 years, and they added another 700,000 impressions over the next two years before selling the press for the same amount they paid for it.
They currently run a 2006 Sportsman automatic screen printing press. The Sportsman had logged 2.7 million impressions when they bought it. Now, after eighteen months in operation, total impressions top 3.5 million, and the press still works “flawlessly.”
When Jason recently bought M&R’s Kruzer manual press, his daughter, Remi, asked to help assemble it. According to Remi, “It was very easy.”
Jason bought the Kruzer because nothing on his non-M&R manual press interchanged with his Sportsman automatic press. With Kruzer, they can use their sleeve pallets, their youth pallets, and their Tri-Loc screen registration system on both screen machines, enabling them to do a full print sample cycle “in a quarter of the time it took before.” While they’re sampling up to six colors on the Kruzer manual press, the Sportsman automatic press keeps churning out T-shirts in production mode.
Jason says he makes a point of bringing customers into the production area to see the screen printing process because, “It adds value to what we do.” As he points out, screen printing “isn’t magic.” It’s hard work and dedication to quality, and he wants his customers to see that in the finished product.
What’s Inkwerks’ secret?
• Buy the best screen printing ink
• Buy the best screen printing equipment
• Hire good people
• And produce a high-end product
Jason said high-quality T-shirts and other items have become their niche.
In fact, for a lot of their customers, price is third on the list behind quality and customer service.
Next up for Inkwerks? Adding a second shift until they can find a larger facility and bring in another automatic screen printing press.
And after seven years in screen printing, how does Jason feel about it as a career? He enjoys the freedom of owning his own business and being able to make a product that people want to have. As Jason says, “Everybody loves a shirt.”