Whether you’re a screen printer, embroidery or your specialty is heat pressing or digital decorating, organizing the various processes that go into running your business is vital.FULL STORY
Build Your Business: Shop Talk
From Service to Screen PrintingThis military veteran used a strong, disciplined work ethic to launch an apparel-printing business.
The Warrior Culture Gear team (left to right) includes Matthew McGrath, Meghan Heger, Jason Juranis, Cara Martin, Kenneth Marren and John Ferguson.
Jason Juranis is no stranger to hard work. His stepfather, a former marine who served in Vietnam, was a taskmaster who demanded perfection. “If you missed a blade of grass while cutting the lawn, he made you go over the whole yard again,” Juranis says.
After high school, his work ethic and sense of discipline served him well as a fire direction control specialist in the United States Army. However, five years after completing his service, the transition to civilian life proved difficult. “My skills weren’t needed outside of the military and I didn’t know what to do with my life,” he says.
Juranis flitted from one job to another before studying graphic arts at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he compiled a portfolio of designs that eventually inspired Warrior Culture Gear, the Lansdale, Pennsylvania-based apparel-printing business he started
A Screen-Printing Crash Course
After art school, Juranis landed a full-time design job at a brewery, followed by design work for various companies and print shops. While working as a marketing manager for a firearms manufacturer, Juranis decided to try his hand at designing and selling T-shirts based on his design expertise and experience. “I put up a website and, the first week, received orders for 300 pieces,” he says.
Juranis immediately realized he was in over his head. “I had no clue what to do,” he recalls. “I was working a full-time job during the day, having someone else print the shirts for us, and then coming home in the evening and shipping everything as best I could.”
A year later, he quit his job to focus on his T-shirt business full-time. “The prices I was being charged to print shirts were exorbitant,” he says, “and I started thinking this was something I could do in-house.”
An internet search led Juranis to Vastex Intl., where he attended “Screen Printing A to Z,” a three-day, hands-on screen-printing training class that detailed the entire process. After the course, Juranis was hooked. He immediately purchased a manual press, conveyor dryer and the prepress equipment necessary to start printing T-shirts himself.
After the equipment was up and running, Juranis spent 12-14 hours a day learning how everything worked together. “We made mistakes,” he admits. “But eventually we learned a lot of tips and tricks and — combined with the basic training — started to feel very comfortable operating the machines.”
Improving Quality & Consistency
Juranis purchased the Vastex V-2000 HD six-color, six-station manual press and a VRS pin-registration system, which allows him to register film positives with the screens off press and then position them on the press with all colors in register.
“We use the registration system mostly for four- and five-color jobs,” he says. “If they didn’t line up consistently, the whole batch would be a disaster, so this ensures that everything comes out perfectly.”
The press’s micro-registration system allows fine tuning of multicolor registration. He says he is “able to line up the screens in a precise fashion. Even if it’s a millimeter off, all you have to do is turn the knob a tad, and it’s right back on registration.”
When printing multicolor jobs, Juranis uses a RedFlash flash-cure unit with adjustable heat control. The unit also flashes garments in between two applications of the same color, thereby helping to achieve a more vibrant look.
To accommodate his growing business, Juranis moved Warrior Culture Gear into a 6,000-square-foot warehouse and invested in a second six-color, six-station press. While the two presses can print more than 500 pieces an hour when running simultaneously, Juranis prints about 400-600 pieces a week due to the intricate nature of his designs.
“We prefer to take our time and focus on quality,” he says. “Many of our designs have three-plus colors on the front as well as the back, and some even have sleeve prints. We also print the interior of the collar for custom tagging. So the work requires multiple screen and color changes.”
To improve workflow from the two presses and anticipating future growth, Juranis added two 18-inch extensions to his infrared conveyor dryer belt. He plans to add a heating chamber to the dryer and purchase a BigRed V54 conveyor dryer to accommodate the future purchase of an automatic press.
“We’re opening up the shop to outside printing, so we’re looking to double or triple print capacity, depending on orders,” he says.
Warrior Culture Gear also features an E-2000 LED exposing unit and a Dri-Vault screen-drying cabinet that holds 10 screens and can dry them in about 20 minutes. When he adds the automatic press, Juranis plans to upgrade to a larger cabinet that can hold 24 screens to keep up with the increased production.
His intricate art, coupled with motivational quotes, have attracted a following among veterans and military personnel, but his messages also resonate with a growing number of civilians.
“I started Warrior Culture Gear so kids who’ve experienced the horror of war could connect with like-minded people, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a military brand,” he says. “Every culture has a warrior class, and it has nothing to do with the military specifically. Even the child who’s battling cancer is a warrior in my book; he’s fighting a battle that no one else understands. So if I can help people feel better about their situation, then I’ve achieved my goal.”
Mark Vasilantone is owner of Vastex Intl. Inc. and builds on the legacy of his father, Michael Vasilantone, the company’s founder in 1960 and an inventor and pioneer in mass producing screen printed T-shirts. For more information or to comment on this article, email Mark at email@example.com.
Warrior Culture Gear At A Glance
Company Name: Warrior Culture Gear
Address: 501 North Cannon Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446
No. of Employees: 6
Decorating Methods Offered: Screen printing
Company Website: warriorculturegear.com
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