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Build Your Business: Management
The Great Payoff
Jeremy Capron, owner of Capron Screen Printing & Graphic Design, operates the business from his basement. Standing on the quiet neighborhood street, it’s hard to imagine that a full-sized screen printing facility operates below the house.
Jeremy Capron has heard it before. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. As it turns out, not only did he prove that adage to be true, but he also found a way to make money while abiding by it.
When Capron started Monticello, Iowa-based Capron Screen Printing & Graphic Design in 2007, it was admittedly more of a hobby. But he always had an idea that he eventually could make it a full-time venture.
“I kept it fairly hush-hush at first so I could hone my skills,” Capron says. “I was mainly printing for friends and family. I got my first batch of equipment from a friend of mine who decided to sell his. I started with a six-color, two-station, no-name manual [screen printing] press, a Chaparral Industries 12-foot dryer and a fluorescent light table.”
Capron was formally schooled in printing communications and graphics at nearby Kirkwood Community College. He even worked a few different jobs along the way — including some involving screen printing. But the bulk of his experience ranged from printing pens to decals and nameplates.
After Capron was laid off from his last job, he decided the time had come to launch Capron Screen Printing & Graphic Design.
“I was tired of not being in control of my own destiny and decided to take my business full-time,” he says. “I had actually gone back to my old job at the decal shop part-time, but got too busy with my own business. So I took a leap of faith.
“It was pretty scary at first,” he continues, “waiting for the phone to ring — I’m married with children. But mainly through word of mouth, my business really has taken off in the past couple of years.”
Capron operates the business from his home’s basement. Standing on the quiet neighborhood street out front, one would never imagine that a full-sized screen printing facility operates below the house.
“I’ve recently expanded my office area into the garage, which is where I meet with customers, as well as take care of the pickups and deliveries,” Capron says. “My house isn’t huge by any means, but the basement is completely open. I had a nice space to make things fit. Screen making, screen exposure, screen cleaning and reclaiming all are done in the basement shop area.”
Although he operates all aspects of the shop, Capron receives help from his brother-in-law, Michael Decker, who assists with screen reclaiming. Capron’s wife, Danielle, now operates the shop’s automatic screen printing press and a friend, Jasen Freeman, occasionally works as a press operator.
The company’s automatic press is a Brown Mfg. ElectraPrint Stealth eight- color, 10-station, fully electric press. Capron says he chose it because of its perfect fit in the shop’s space and the fact that it’s fully electric, with no noisy air compressor.
Other equipment includes the aforementioned manual press; three heat presses of varying sizes; a Chaparral Industries 3-foot conveyer dryer; a Roland vinyl plotter (for personalizing and numbering); and a homemade 1,000-watt, metal-halide exposure unit with a vacuum top.
Moving the automatic press into the basement was a bit of a chore, Capron says. He had to remove the house’s back door and cut the opening a few more inches to widen it. He also had to remove a part of the upper floor to gain a half-inch of clearance to bring the press down the stairs. A floor-to-ceiling post had to be removed, and horizontal floor supports were added. The press was brought down in sections and reassembled in the basement.
To ensure proper ventilation for fumes associated with the screen printing process, Capron has a vent tube on the conveyer dryer that removes smoke. He uses Easiway One Step products in the reclaiming process, which have very little odor. Identifying low-odor products has been beneficial to Capron in his basement location.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
In the beginning, Capron found a niche in auto racing apparel. Having once been a race car driver (who still races occasionally, time permitting), he had an inside track — no pun intended — with this niche, and knew many drivers and potential clients.
Today, he mainly serves small- to medium-sized clients. He also does contract work for an embroidery company, handling its artwork and screen printing needs. The company’s average order size is 50- 100 pieces.
“My biggest day-to-day challenge is simply time management,” Capron says. “Answering the phone, sending and responding to emails, updating social networks, artwork, printing, making screens — it can get pretty hectic; but I still love doing it.”
To address the demands of a home-based business, Capron streamlines his personal processes. For instance, he will make detailed notes on how he set up a job, the colors and mesh counts used, etc.
“Basically, I’m getting it set up so that anyone could walk in and read my job sheets, and know what to do,” he says. “I also keep a close tab on inventory and do whatever possible to keep overstock to a minimum and minimize rejects.”
Capron Screen Printing offers spot- color, simulated process, four-color process, and index screen printing; heat transfers on light and dark apparel; personalization on various items; promotional products; and embroidery, which is outsourced.
“What sets my shop apart is that I like expanding on customers’ ideas to go from a ‘plain-Jane’ idea to something with more of a ‘wow’ factor,” Capron says.
To keep up with the demands of modern business culture to go green, Capron is slowly replacing his static frames with the Shur-loc “E-Z” Frames. He also tries to control costs as much as possible.
“If something breaks, I don’t throw it away,” he says. “I try and fix it first, even if I have to fabricate my own parts. I use reject shirts for setting up jobs and, when they are filled up with prints, I cut up the clean areas and use the T-shirt scraps for rags.”
Capron’s plan for continued growth and survival is to continue doing what he does best: Work honestly with customers and deliver a great product. Future plans include an updated website and the addition of a T-shirt design page, where customers can design their own apparel. As demand warrants, Capron also is interested in working with more special-effects inks.
Jennifer A. Morrell is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jennifer at email@example.com.
Capron Screen Printing & Graphic Design At A Glance
Company Name: Capron Screen Printing & Graphic Design
Address: 328 E. Washington St.
Monticello, IA 52310
No. of Employees: 4
Decorating Methods Offered: Spot-color, simulated process, four-color process and index
screen printing; heat transfers; graphic design; embroidery
Company Website: capronscreenprinting.com
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