March 7, 2016
Large, high-volume printing shops don’t just appear. It takes years of hard work to grow into a successful apparel-decorating business.
Such is true with Danny Gruninger’s Denver Print House, which he and his brother, Brandon, grew from a two-man, 600-square-foot operation into a full-scale shop that boasts 45 employees.
“We started printing about 10 years ago,” Gruninger says. “We started with just a little manual press … and we didn’t really know anything about printing. We basically just learned everything from the ground up.”
Building a Giant
You can label Denver Print House a lot of things, but small isn’t one of them. The Gruninger brothers have grown the company thanks to countless hours of hard work, which also resulted in the ability to invest in more equipment and decorating capabilities.
Denver Print House now operates in a 35,000-square-foot facility and, in addition to its four automatic presses, it features 90 embroidery heads, two tunnel gas driers, 15 flash units, a computer-to-screen (CTS) system, and a dye shop with six industrial washers and six more complementary dryers.
Ironically, the company doesn’t work with many large-volume clients — yet. “We do a lot of high-color, low-quantity [jobs]; our average run size is 144 pieces and the average color amount is between six and seven,” he says.
That’s not an especially large amount per order considering the volume the shop is capable of producing, but that could be because some of its equipment has capabilities that most shops don’t.
Rockin’ with Roq
Denver Print House purchased and installed the first Roq Oval Pro automatic screen-printing press in the United States. It was added to the company’s other automatics, the largest of which is a 16-station press. Multiple stations greatly increase the shop’s ability to produce complex, multicolor prints — proven by its average of 6.5 colors per print.
The shop’s Roq Oval also has unique add-ons that hardly any other machine or shop in the country can replicate, Gruninger says. “[The Roq] offers a lot of solutions like foiling on T-shirts — we do all of that in-line on our machines — and flocking, which we also do in-line on our machines,” he says, adding that these capabilities helped the shop service new niches and clients.
Gruninger also lauds the simplicity of Roq’s systems and insists the equipment supplier is a huge reason for his company’s quick-turnaround capabilities.
“The preregistration system we’ve set up with [Roq] is, in my opinion, the best system out there,” he says. “We’re setting up jobs and doing screen changeovers per screen in under 90 seconds. So we can set up a 10- to 12-color job in our shop in about 10 minutes.”
‘Denver’ in Name Only
Though located in the “Mile High City,” Denver Print House really is an intercontinental — and even international — decorated apparel supplier. In fact, Gruninger says his shop only does about 10% of its business in Colorado.
“We’re shipping all over,” he says. “We have clients in Honduras, Hawaii, etc., and we have a couple clothing lines that are all over the world right now.”
This is due to Denver Print House’s business model, which allocates a significant portion of its production to a successful catalog business and clothing lines. “About 40% of our business is contract printing and the other 60% is selling to either end users or our catalog, and clothing lines that we sell to retail stores,” Gruninger says.”
Because Denver Print House is so large and has a comparable production capacity, it only makes sense to target high-volume clients, which is exactly what Gruninger says the shop plans to do while also growing the contract printing side of the business.
As for the distant future, the brothers hope to engage and give back to the decorating community by advising other shops.
“Eventually, I think Brandon and I would like to build the company large enough to where someone can run it for us and we can get in the field, helping other printers in other shops and do a little consulting as well,” he says.
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