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Build Your Business: Shop Talk
A Much-Needed Jolt
High Voltage Prints owner Jason Lansdell borrowed money from his retirement fund to pay for the shop’s rent.
It started in his high school graphic-arts class in the 1990s. That is where Jason Lansdell, owner of Rome, Ga.-based High Voltage Prints, learned about the printing industry, including the basics of computer art and running an offset press.
Six years later, he was set to accept a job as an offset press operator. Then, the phone rang.
“On the weekend before I was to start in the offset world again, I got a call from a screen-print shop offering me an opportunity,” Lansdell recalls. “I accepted the job and started my journey in screen printing.”
Learning The Ropes
Lansdell says his background in the offset world actually helped build a skill set that prepared him to operate a screen-printing press.
“I started at the bottom,” he says. “I shot film every day back in those days, a far step behind the technology we have today. I cleaned screens [and] started on an ancient manual printer that, after all those years, still held good registration, and eventually worked my way up to auto printing, [became] a shop manager, and then [went] out on my own.”
He started High Voltage in 2011, a decision that involved a leap of faith that Lansdell says he’s glad he took. “I had made a decent living working for someone else’s shop, but I didn’t have much when I left,” he says. “I sold my house, paid off all of my debt, borrowed enough from my retirement fund to pay rent on a building and jumped right in.”
Working in the printing business for 12 years meant Lansdell had fostered many friendships with industry veterans. Two of those friends joined him at High Voltage, one as a business partner and the other as an employee. Armed with a facility and industry knowledge, the trio needed equipment and customers. Lansdell says more friends in the printing industry came to his aid.
A Helping Hand
As customers fell into place for High Voltage, more good fortune was headed the company’s way.
“I can honestly say that, without Rich Hoffman and the M&R Companies, there would not be a High Voltage Prints,” Lansdell says. “I had known Mr. Hoffman for years, working at another shop and from trade shows all around the United States. He heard I was opening my own shop and offered me a chance to beta test a new piece of technology that was going to hit the market six months later.”
That technology was featured in the M&R Diamondback S series automatic screen-printing press, as well as one of its dryers and exposure units. In about a year, High Voltage had outgrown its small dryer and press, and Hoffman again stepped in to assist the shop with the opportunity to purchase new equipment, including a larger M&R Sprint 2000 gas dryer and an M&R 14-color Challenger III D press.
In 2014, Hoffman helped introduce a Starlight UV LED screen-exposure system and an I-image ST computer-to-screen imaging unit to the shop.
“Now, we have every piece of the latest technology to get most any job done — and done right,” Lansdell says.
Where Things Stand
Now in its fifth year, High Voltage does all types of screen printing, including water-based and discharge printing, special effects and more.
High Voltage employs nine people. Its customer base has grown each year and the company now ships to customers all over the United States.
“Our work can be seen on the Discovery Channel and an HBO documentary series, in collegiate basketball and professional wrestling, and in use by major recording artists, Major League Soccer players, national food brands, retail stores across the United States and local businesses around our community,” Lansdell says.
“Staying current with trends and technology is the key to success, and you must do both to win,” he adds. “Traveling to trade shows across the United States has helped me mold my skills and is something that is important to stay current.”
Paramount for Lansdell, however, is the passion that led him to take the leap of faith into the industry in the first place. “I love screen printing,” he says. “It’s all I know, all I want to know, and all I will probably ever know.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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