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T.S. Designs Focusing on People, Planet, and Profitability

(May 2006) posted on Tue May 02, 2006

Discover why the company decided to go green and what actions it's taken to make eco-friendly screen pritning sustainable.

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By Lori Leaman

Environmental consciousness is a serious matter at T.S. Designs. Taking care of the planet isn't just a pledge that the Burlington, NC-based garment-printing business adopted to tug at the heartstrings of current and potential customers. It's a life-long commitment that often requires the company to make sacrifices and take on extra expenses. On the following pages, you'll find out how this screen-printing operation made the transition from a small shop that struggled to keep up with the impact of globalization to a new, sustainable apparel business dedicated to preserving natural resources and implementing business practices to support this goal.

Company roots

Tom Sineath founded T.S. Designs in 1977. He had just graduated from North Carolina State University with a master's degree in product design and wanted to put the interest he developed in screen printing to use. His older brother, Jim, was already operating a screen-printing shop in Eden, NC. The business focused primarily on printing sweatshirts for Wrangler, work for local charities, and some specialty applications. Inspired, Tom started his own screen-printing company in a 2000-sq-ft facility in Graham, NC. He opened the shop with three manual presses, a dryer, and an exposure unit, all of which he built himself. However, prepress required an hour-long drive to his brother's shop, where Tom used a vertical copy camera to create positives before returning to his own shop to make stencils and print the job.

Forty-five minutes away in Raleigh, NC, college student Eric Henry was busy developing Creative Screen Designs, his T-shirt-sales company. Henry's clients consisted of fraternities and other campus clubs and organizations. He solicited the print jobs and then worked with a local screen printer to fill the orders. When the screen printer failed to print one job that Henry needed to deliver immediately, Henry rushed the work to Jim Sineath's shop. Sineath quickly turned the job around and informed Henry about his brother Tom's business in Graham. Henry later visited Tom's shop and formed what would become a strong partnership.

Not long after the pair met, Henry left college to support his growing business and turned the sales enterprise into a full-time career. While he and Sineath worked together, they maintained their companies as separate businesses. Eventually, however, they combined their businesses and formed T.S. Designs, which was incorporated with Henry as president and Sineath as CEO.


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