Tom Butler, Founder and President of Ink Throwers, started his company in 2004 with two CHALLENGER
Automatic Screen Printing Presses and a hand sample machine. Ink Throwers grew rapidly over the course of the following eleven years and by 2015 was occupying five buildings. In 2015 Tom took the opportunity to consolidate all operations under one roof, and moved Ink Throwers to a newly constructed, immaculate 200,000 square foot facility located just south of the San Diego/Tijuana border.
"Today," says Tom, "we have twenty carousels , two belt machines (PREDATOR LPC
All-Over Belt Printing Presses), eight neck label machines, along with a dye house, and we do all hand dyeing, burnouts, treatments, and every type of specialty blank you can think of."
Ink Throwers focuses on large mass-volume stores including Target, Wallmart, Nordstroms, Sears, Macy's, and JC Penny to name a few, and is certified with all the major licensing companies such as Disney, Levis, and Marvel Comics.
"One of the deciding factors in getting big is partnering with the customers," says Tom. "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."
Tom continues, "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."
What's next for Ink Throwers? Within a year Tom plans to go "as green as possible" by recycling and reusing all of the water from the laundry department through their water treatment plant. 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."
Tom's career in screen printing began in 1983 and spans the full gamut from learning how to print on a manual screen printing press at his job after high school, to installing and repairing equipment throughout Southern California, to running large factories in the US and Mexico, to building his own thriving high-volume screen printing company that features automation in each department including a UNI-KOTE
Automatic Screen Coating Machine for coating screens with emulsion, two i-IMAGE STE Imaging-Exposure Systems
imaging close to 400 screens per shift, an ECO-RINSE
Automatic Screen Rinsing System for automatically removing ink from screens, several M&R automatic shirt folding machines
to improve speed and efficiency in the finishing department, and an ECO-TEX
Automatic Screen Cleaning and Reclaiming System for automated reclaiming of screens.
"I had the fortunate opportunity to run large factories for other people, and got a lot of guidance, and self-taught too. 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," says Tom. "It's really tight margins, and we're all doing the best we can to be efficient, lean, and smart."