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A Screen-Printing Roundup

(October 2012) posted on Mon Oct 01, 2012

MacDougall looks at 2012 as a year of growth for screen printing.

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By Andy MacDougall

2012 has been an interesting year. Against a backdrop of continued recession in most national economies, rising unemployment, political insanity, and the imminent demise of the world predicted by the Mayans—screen and specialty printers seem to be bucking the trend.
A quick glance at industry stats from SGIA (Financial Outlook and Business Growth Reports, show the three main segments (graphics, textile, and industrial) all growing robustly, increasing business, hiring more people, and over half of those surveyed saying they will be buying new equipment next year. How can this be? Don’t screen printers listen to the news? Obviously not—they are too busy printing!
Why do things continue to improve? I can only speculate and observe what is going on in some of the shops where I have had the opportunity to work with the owners to help them realize their dreams and build their businesses while so many others in retail and manufacturing face economic hardship.
Kyle Robinson of Print My Threads in Ashland, KY is a prime example of the DIY mentality that has been a mainstay of screen printers over the last 100 years, and the movement which is jumpstarting a lot of small businesses over the past ten years. Starting in a converted garage at home with used equipment, in two years Kyle has moved into a storefront, bought a DTG press to go with his six-color manual, added two employees, and doubled his 2011 sales in the past six months.
Ashland and the surrounding region are typical of many resource towns. When the local oil company relocated offshore, the population dropped by 50% and the economy went into a tailspin. Kyle and others like him have been taking advantage of the low rent and internet marketing to establish himself as a main regional supplier, and also to tap into sales across the country. His strong commitment to using water-based inks and offering eco-friendly materials has given him a decided advantage and an angle that differentiates his product from his competitors.


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