Hugely Successful Screen Printer Relies on Innovation, Vastex Equipment
"I have always been a smart buyer and mostly purchased used equipment to save thousands of dollars," says Taylor, co-owner of Sanctuary Printshop, Austin, Texas. "I searched eBay and Craig's List for the best deals and have driven as far as Florida to pick up a press."
"This changed when I did some research and started buying Vastex. I have found that Vastex offers quality, cost-effective products, and its pricing is always laid out on the table — there is no wheeling and dealing when it comes to what is charged," says Taylor.
"Plus, its service is impeccable. No matter what, I can always talk to someone on the phone and get answers to my questions or place orders for any replacement parts I need."
"One year after opening my shop, I bought my first Vastex press and have never looked back. I continue to be impressed with the quality and reliability of the machines, and I am sold on the power and durability of Vastex equipment. I am a true believer in the company's offerings and customer service," he says.
The Early Days
Taylor got his start in screen printing when he worked in a shop while attending Texas Tech University. "I learned how to clean screens and did printing at night," he notes.
While working at the shop he also became proficient in graphic design and soon found himself making T-shirts and fliers for the numerous youth groups with which he was associated. Upon graduation his wife suggested he start his own print shop.
"I realized I could sell my designs to churches and youth groups, so I moved back to Austin, bought a bunch of equipment from Craig's list, and started doing it," he says.
Early in his new career, Taylor set himself apart from competitors by focusing on niches where he knew he could do a stand-out job.
"We are a style company. We really want to be known as graphic designers who own a print company not a print company that makes cool T-shirts," says Taylor.
"We stay way from high schools, fraternities, and sororities. We pick and choose what we want to do. That is what's great about being a design house that prints: we can say 'no' to jobs we don't want and require a decent minimum."
Catering To Youth
One of Sanctuary's largest markets is youth organizations. "We have a national contract with a company called Young Life," notes Taylor. "It deals with more than 800 high school organizations. So we are consistently coming out with new designs and getting to do what we want to do and that keeps us fresh."
Onsite printing is another niche in which Sanctuary has established an outstanding reputation.
"A cool thing we've been able to do with our mobile business is print straight out the back of a 1979 El Camino, which makes what we do even more of an attraction at the events we attend," says Taylor. "We have a four-color, four-station Vastex V-1000 press harnessed in the open back of the El Camino. The car has our company name on it and is custom wrapped to create an old retro feel to it, which works very well with the 'old school' type of prints we do."
"We also have a DB-18 Dri-Box in the back of the El Camino. It gives us enough space to print close to 100 one-color shirts an hour. We've found that the dryer has been just as dependable as our Vastex presses, and reinforces our trust in the company and its products."
Clients for onsite printing range from corporate events to national music festivals and concerts such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits.
"We've printed at South by Southwest — which is a music and technology festival held annually in Austin, Texas — in addition to many other concerts. There's an excitement and intrigue factor to attendees who can walk to the back of a venue to grab some food or a drink, and then see a bunch of guys printing up T-shirts next to the concession stands," says Taylor.
Onsite Printing Draws Crowds
"Whether at a corporate event, trade show or concert, people love watching me and my staff work the press and the inks," notes Taylor. "It has an "old world" appeal when compared to digital direct-to-garment printing, and, in my opinion, manual screen printing is more interesting and produces better-quality products. People love watching us get messy with the inks."
"People also love to pick their size, color and template design, and watch us print it on the spot," Taylor continues. "They're impressed by it and will pay more for the experience, so we're able to charge more than we do for our in-house orders. What's neat is, as long as we're able to print on the material with the inks we're using, we'll let someone hand us a jacket or other garment they were wearing and print a design on it right there."
"For our mobile corporate events, we mostly print giveaway T-shirts for employees and attendees," says the shop owner. "Typically we work directly with a production company that contracts with us for a set amount of hours and at an agreed-upon price, and we'll spend that time printing as many of the employees' requests as possible. Through all of this, our Vastex presses have held up for us. They're all very reliable, and enable us to have this mobile side to our screen printing business."
Bread and Butter Jobs
While two of our manual presses are dedicated solely to mobile printing, the other three Vastex manuals, in addition to the automatic, stay at the facility to handle in-house orders. The minimum order is 24 pieces, and an average design is a three-color front and three-color back.
In addition to youth organizations, the shop also does in-house prints for many bands. Many are lesser-known independent artists, but some of the bigger names include Lil Wayne and Hayes Carl.
Helping to generate a lot of orders from the music business is co-owner Jon Pattillo, who formerly owned Austin record label Fat Caddy Records. "We also get a lot of new, indie bands touring in Austin, Texas, which is a popular music scene," says Taylor.
For in-house needs, the shop uses a Vastex EconoRed 54 dryer that was purchased five years ago. "We haven't had to touch it once in terms of maintenance since we bought it, which speaks volumes to the quality of Vastex equipment," says Patillo.
"Since we purchased it, we've added extensions on the end feed and out feed and added an additional heater to it. This has doubled our capacity for the EconoRed, and it has been a worthwhile upgrade for our shop," he adds.
"One of the greatest things about Vastex equipment is, whenever there have been rare times when something needs to be fixed, I can usually handle all repairs with a screwdriver," says Taylor. "Vastex products are very reliable and durable, and the equipment is of equal quality to its customer service. I'm able to call them about an upgrade or anything I need, and they'll ship it immediately to arrive the next day. This commitment to service and to its customers is why I've been a loyal customer for five years."
With a growing screen printing business like Sanctuary Printshop, I need to be 100 percent sure that my equipment, and the company that services it, are reliable and will never fail to provide impeccable customer service. I feel that Vastex has satisfied all of my expectations, and I will continue to purchase from them as I build up my business."