Buckle up ‘cause we are on a mission! In the ever-evolving world of technology, there are so many ways to tap into your creative outlet and turn it into a lucrative business in the decorated-apparel industry.FULL STORY
Build Your Business: Shop Talk
After a work accident left Andrew Blood paralyzed from the waist down, his journey to recovery — including regaining self-reliance and independence — culminated in his launch of decorated apparel shop Runnit Ink. Image provided by Think Darryl Photography
It took Andrew Blood six years to regain his independence after an accident, and he’s been working almost non-stop since to make up for lost time.
In 2004, the then-24-year-old Blood was working as a lineman for Xcel Energy in Colorado when a 50-foot-tall telephone pole to which he was strapped snapped, sending him crashing to ground.
The fall left Blood paralyzed from the waist down.
“The pole fell with me attached to it and broke my femur, pelvis in two places, tailbone and four vertebras,” he says. “It’s hard when [your independence is] taken from you. All you want to do is get back a piece of independence.”
Blood’s rehab coincided with an eight-year legal battle with Qwest Communications, the company that was responsible for maintaining the telephone pole, in which he sought restitution for punitive and compensatory damages.
At the conclusion of the lawsuit, Blood was awarded a sum reaching well into eight figures. With that money, he and his girlfriend, whom he met eight years into the recovery process, started a non-profit organization that helps paraplegics get back in their cars — as he has done.
Blood emphasizes the importance of independence for paraplegics, and operating a vehicle with hand controls is a surefire way to regain self-reliance. But he didn’t stop with the non-profit. He also embarked on an endeavor that centered on one of his new favorite hobbies.
“After the non-profit was going, then I started printing, and I’ve worked here for the last eight months, 10-14 hours a day,” Blood says. “So I’ve been able to get back a lot of what I’ve lost along the way. Working 10-14 hours a day is one of the best things that I’ve been looking for for a long time.”
“Here” refers to Blood’s new screen-printing shop, Aurora, Colo.-based Runnit Ink, which has been operational for about seven months.
BUSINESS TAKING OFF
Runnit Ink has experienced rapid growth and high demand, going from a three-person shop to one that employs seven in less than a year.
“[Seven] months ago is when we filed the name and opened [the shop],” Blood says. “So it’s really just new, but man, we are getting super busy. We’re meeting the right people and making the right connections. We’ve got some of the best artists and printers that we could find.”
Runnit Ink’s near-3,800-square-foot shop has been adequate for Blood and other founding members Sara Garriques, Scott Howell, Willy Carter.
“Basically, we started it, worked our butts off and now we have a bunch of employees, a bunch of machines that are capable of 14-color [prints], discharge inks — we’re starting to really pick it up and get going,” Blood says.
Word has spread, and because of its “no-job-is-too-small” approach, Runnit Ink is filling orders from all sorts of clients.
“We’re filling tons of orders, from resorts to sports, schools, churches, concerts and festivals,” Blood says. “We’re doing full-on [printing]. Whatever you want us to print, we’ll print it. We take all orders. Usually our minimum is around 12, but we’ll do one-offs for [customers].”
WHY SCREEN PRINTING?
Though his lawsuit settlement contained enough money for Blood to live on, he wasn’t content. His vision extended to his non-profit, his screen-printing shop — which has become more than just a hobby — and beyond.
“I got into [screen printing] because I wanted to wear my own stuff,” Blood says. “I started learning about screen printing and fell in love with it. So I decided to turn it into a real job and hired the right people.”
One of the people Blood hired is his screen-printing expert Carter, a 30-year veteran of the decorated apparel industry. “He’s the man, and the reason my shop’s going to go so well is because of him,” Blood says.
Their meeting was the result of Carter doing a walk-in visit to Runnit Ink. Since that day, Carter has been an integral part of the progressive operation that sees itself as a screen-printing shop for the future.
Why? Blood says it’s because of its latest-and-greatest technology, which includes a 14-color, 16-station press and an M&R i-Image STE II computer-to-screen imaging and UV LED exposure system. Though the M&R Gauntlet III screen-printing press is its crown jewel, Blood says Runnit Ink is not content to limit itself to only screen printing — or the confines of its facility.
EXPANDING THE BRAND
Along with screen printing, Runnit Ink does vehicle wraps. It has an HD Latex 360 64-inch printer and, as of press time, is purchasing embroidery equipment.
“Right now we do vehicle wraps, bumper stickers, window decals and screen printing under this one roof,” Carter says. “We are expanding to embroidery — we’d like to have that in-house, too. We’re just waiting for the machine to get here.”
The expansion into a new decorating process has led Blood to consider expanding into new markets, too — namely the Grand Junction, Colo., area. In fact, he wants to bring two new businesses to the area — one of which will offer decorated apparel.
“I’m opening up a couple more shops in Grand Junction,” he says. “One of them is a CNC shop — it’s a machine shop — to build race trucks, trophy trucks and wheelchairs. Much like a print shop, but we just cut out metal.”
Part of the reason Blood is opening a CNC shop is his passion for racing, which is possible because of sophisticated hand controls.
Along with the CNC shop is the second planned Runnit Ink location. “Our second print shop will be there in Grand Junction,” he says. “That shop won’t be open for eight months, but the machine shop is being built right now. It’s 10,000 square feet.”
After only seven months in the Aurora, Colo., area, Blood is seeking more room to print and fill orders, and it seems there is no end in sight to Runnit Ink’s ambitious expansion. Future plans involve a music festival and Blood driving a Runnit Ink-branded truck in a race.
Considering what Blood has done in the seven months since Runnit Ink opened its doors, the brand has promising growth potential in the years to come.
Runnit Ink At A Glance
Company Name: Runnit Ink
Address: 3421 S. Umatilla St. Sheridan, CO 80110
No. of Employees: 7
Executive Team: Andrew Blood, owner; Willy Carter, production manager; Sara Garriques, office manager; Scott Howell, art director
Decorating Methods Offered: screen printing, embroidery, vehicle wraps, promotional products, window graphics, banners, graphic design, custom projects and more
Company Website: runnitink.com
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