Build Your Business:


Fighters and Survivors


Tees By Tazz’s clients include schools, charity organizations, sports teams and corporations.

May 5, 2014

The stories that define us are not always the easiest to tell. Tazz Ringel knows this all too well.

While Tees By Tazz, the company he founded in 2008, continues to carve a solid niche for itself in the decorated apparel world, the story of how the Loveland, Ohio-based shop came to be is defined by Ringel’s relentless will and determination.

Today, the three-person operation prides itself on offering the same service and care for small orders as it does for larger clients.

Place an order with Tees By Tazz and you’ll get superior customer service, the best price and a quick turnaround time.

Ringel guarantees these three qualities with every order — trademarks that are rooted in the experiences he has had both professionally and personally. And he doesn’t take these promises lightly, especially given the path he took to get where he is today.

The premise is simple: Give your customer your word and stand by it. Ringel’s mantra can be traced back to his early days in the business — tales filled with the kinds of circumstances that have broken lesser men.

FROM YUDU TO YOUTUBE

As the story goes, Ringel had just started working in the sales department for a uniform company whose offerings included screen printed garments. When his wife, the director at a Cincinnati-area preschool, requested pricing on staff shirts, Ringel came back with a figure that was $4 higher than other quotes she had found. In shock, he wondered how his company’s prices could be higher when it was much larger and could surely match or beat any other price.

After doing a little research, he discovered his company had discouraged the screen printing segment of its business. And to make things even more disparaging, the company wasn’t even interested in being competitive.

But wait, the story gets worse. After just two months on the job — while he still was in training — Ringel was terminated along with 32 of the company’s other 36 national sales reps.

“This really piled on to what was already happening with our family situation financially,” Ringel recalls. “We were already teetering on foreclosure and possible bankruptcy, both of which eventually happened. We lost it all: our cars, our house and our retirement investment. But we are fighters and survivors. We knew we could continue to defy the odds.”

Sitting on his couch and flipping through the channel guide one Saturday, Ringel stumbled upon an infomercial for the desktop Yudu personal screen printing machine, which combines screen exposing, drying and printing functions into a large, plastic all-in-one machine that retails for about $250.

“I can do that and make payments on the machine,” Ringel remembers thinking. “Some people laughed at me. But when the machine came in, I made a few shirts and pushed on. I figured there just had to be a better way.”

After seeing Ryonet equipment in action on YouTube, he called the company to ask about presses. Ryonet is a screen printing equipment, supplies and training supplier, and its customer base — ranging from hobbyists to large shops — seemed to be in Ringel’s wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the prices were out of his league at that time.  
So he continued using his Yudu machine until a friend, Rob Lorton, bought a Ryonet Silver Press. The manual tabletop starter press was just what Ringel needed to expand his offerings. He even entered a Ryonet contest designed for new screen printers that had purchased items from the company. Prizes were awarded each month.

“The big contest for the conveyor dryer was awarded to the company that posted the single largest order in one month,” Ringel says. “With the Yudu machine, I had designed custom platens to fit the machine and would cure the ink with a heat gun.”

Ringel notched the victory and won a BBC Little Buddy conveyor dryer and a healthy supply of ink. “It ended up changing our business from curing ink with a heat gun to shirts curing within 30 seconds and properly,” he says. “The win was a game changer. It really helped kickstart my business.”

DIVING INTO ALL ASPECTS
Still learning the trade, Ringel eventually landed several big orders with his alma mater, Cincinnati’s revered Moeller High School, which helped pave the way for Tees By Tazz in 2008. Today, his 1,200-square-foot shop has a manual screen printing press, 16″ x 20″ heat press, sublimation printer, conveyor dryer, vinyl plotter and singlehead embroidery machine. The company offers a range of screen printing and embroidery services for promotional products and sporting equipment.

Some of the many custom decoration items it produces include T-shirts, caps, sport shirts, blankets, koozies, stadium seats, window clings, trophies, pens and pencils, sports bottles, key chains, flash drives and more. Clients include schools, charity organizations, sports teams and corporations.

“We have rebuilt ourselves by diving into all aspects of the apparel business,” Ringel says. “Today, we’re looking at upgrading our equipment to handle the increasing volume of business we have coming in. As it looks right now, 2014 could be our best year yet.”

In an up-and-down economy that finally is showing some signs of life, Tees By Tazz is thriving because it has created an atmosphere where every customer feels like the top priority.

“We are starting to get a lot of repeat business, especially in full-color specialty prints, cut-and-sew sublimated garments and rhinestone designs,” Ringel says. “It is rewarding when a customer can walk up to you and say, ‘Thank you for completing our order with one day’s notice and bailing me out of a jam.’ We’ve had customers come to us because their regular printer left them high and dry. It makes a big difference.”

Based on the road he has traveled, Ringel understands the importance of delivering on the promises you make in an environment you can manage. “It comes down to knowing all of your costs — down to the penny,” he says. “Only then can you accurately plan for success.”

Today, Ringel and company also are making a run at marketing their wares via social media — an outlet that is helping grow its customer base. “Social media is key to our clients and their followers,” Ringel says. “We have a tremendous outreach, and continue to build and expand on it through Twitter and Facebook.”

So, what does the future hold?

“We are growing at a healthy rate and looking to expand into a new facility in the summer of 2014,” Ringel says. “That means we will be adding new equipment monthly and donating our current equipment. Right now, we’re looking to add a 6 x 6 color manual press, a 10 x 8 automatic press, full-color plotter/cutter and 6- to 8-head embroidery machine. The future is bright.”

Michael J. Pallerino is an award-winning writer who as written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Michael at mpallerino@gmail.com.


Tees By Tazz At A Glance
Company Name: Tees By Tazz
Address: 445 Branch Hill Loveland Road, Loveland, Ohio 45140
Founded: 2008
No. of Employees: 3
Services Offered: Screen printing, sublimation printing, embroidery, signage, banners, vehicle lettering, promotional products and sporting goods
Company Websites: teesbytazz.com
On Facebook: facebook.com/teesbytazz
On Twitter: @teesbytazz