10 Things We Want for the Decorating Industry

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Join us for a special tradition as the 2 Regular Guys kick off 2024 with their annual “10 Things” list! It’s that time of year when we share our hopes and aspirations for the world of garment and product decoration. From industry essentials to dream-worthy innovations, Aaron and Terry will dive into what they’d love to see in the coming year. But here’s the exciting part – we want to hear YOUR thoughts too! Join us live and share your own wishes and predictions for the industry in 2024. Let’s shape the future together! #Regulators #2024Wishlist

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Dad Joke

Aaron: Did you know that I used to work for the Circus? I was a human cannon ball…

Until they fired me.

10 Things from 2023

Terry: I’d like to see, I expect to see, trade shows seek their new level. So what does that mean? Trade shows won’t return exactly as before. For good or for bad (if you run a trade show), many typical exhibitors at all or most shows were very successful during COVID without the costs of trade shows. Many of these companies are weighing how much of this expense they’re willing to take on again. This is a conversation or debate taking place at manufacturers, dealers and distributors throughout the industry.

Aaron: Mid Range Heat Press. Going from 16×20 to the next level is a massive cost jump. How can you make a mid range size more viable? A 30 x 40 or a 40 x 60 that can still be affordable on the average credit card?

Terry: I miss ThreadX (by Printing United) but apparently not financially viable so likely gone for the time being. I’d like to see an online version of ThreadX that is not tied into a business or organization with a profit agenda. I would miss the personal interaction but the speakers were awesome, and the attendee mix as well. Option 2, tie a live event to the Expo in Atlanta either a day or two before or after. This is an idea we’ve kicked around on past shows.

Aaron: More Balance. Now back to the high level woo woo stuff that you know and love from me. I get to work with a lot of business owners, and I see us all really siloing our lives. There is the business life about making money. There is the home life, the community. I’d like to see people integrate this more and that starts by really defining our purpose and why. Then operating from that space centrally.

Terry: I’m looking forward to innovation and clarity in DTF printing. By innovation, I’m referring to things like single sheet powder application devices. There are some devices but to my knowledge none that will coat a 16×20 sheet yet. By clarity I mean things like, what’s the truth about the adhesive powder? And in general just a better understanding of proper methods and techniques.

Aaron: Less Competition. OK, one more woo-woo thing. I know business is set up as a thing you have to win, more market share, and beat the other guy. But I think this drags us away from an abundance mentality that I have found to be crucial to success. We need partnerships, we need collaboration, we need a push towards the greater good, which all goes out the window when it is a competition. Us versus them. As someone who is very competitive, this is something I have to work on actively, finding ways to use my competitiveness to do more, not just to beat someone else. So I guess a challenge for the Regulators – Is there a way we can support and effort of yours through 2 Regular Guys? How can we be collaborative – keyword collaborative? Most of what we get is hey Terry, Aaron and Erich, this is what you can do for us. I want collaboration! Win Win!

Terry: We are already seeing garments that come pretreated out of the box. The dam began to crack on this during 2022. There are more coming this year. What I personally would like to see though, is more consistency from brand to brand, style to style, and even color to color in pre-pretreated shirts. We’re not there yet. We’re getting closer but not with every brand and garment and color. And I fear that newbies might think it’s something they’re doing wrong, because the shirt must surely be pretreated correctly by the professionals! On the plus side, all of us are witnessing a definable moment in the industry that will change the way we move forward. Shout out to Brian Walker at RTP Apparel (Image Armor) for pioneering this market with a well-pretreated garments. They were not the first, but they were the first to get it right.

Aaron: Trade Association. This is not a knock on Printing United at all. They are a great group and do a great job at doing what they do. They are a media company now, and the convergence is a great thing, and I think they have hit their stride. Vegas was a great indicator. But I believe there should be a specific Garment trade association. I have talked about this before I know and I’m really keen on it, I just can’t do it alone. 

Terry: Innovation, innovation, innovation. Outside of DTF, most industry innovations have been on the shelf for the past COVID-19 years. I’m looking forward to seeing what companies have been holding back. We’ll see lots of new ideas in Long Beach and this Fall in Atlanta for Printing United.

Aaron: Supply Chain Repair or Disruption. The big distributor model has proven when faced with challenges, they didn’t get more customer-centric, they actually got worse. Their free freight promises go out the window because of their problems, not the customers, and just a lack of really being empathetic to their customers, only their bottom line. Now lots of drop shipping. I think manufacturers need to look at more direct sales, and less reliance on distributors.

10 Things for the Decorating Industry

Terry: Among manufacturers and distributors I would love to see more ongoing training and support. I think we banged on this drum many times in the past, but if possible I think it got worse in 2023. What I’m talking about is the fact we are not selling and buying just equipment, we’re selling and we’re buying technology that requires proper training and ongoing support. Why do I think it got worse in 2023? Just the sheer number of new resellers in the DTF marketplace. And too many of their customers are left high and dry by their dealers. Do better in 2024 manufacturers and dealers!

Aaron: Support for grassroots programs. First I just want to shout out the support I have been getting for SkillsUSA. Epson, Conde, Craft Express, Stahls, Sewingmachine.com, Artesprix for providing the prizes. David, Nick, Stephanie, Sandy, Ann, Richard, Kristin, and Mark for their help and being the judges. Also shout out to Mimiki for their support and Insta Heat Presses for their help already in 2024. Those kids are blessed to have that support, but I think we need to be greedy. These kids are our future customers, employees, and maybe even bosses. Do we want uneducated and unsupported kids, or do we want to nurture them? The local schools need more support, the state competitions need more support. Open your shop to a school. Looking at the major sublimation distributors. Outside of Conde, there are notable names missing from the list. It’s not about competition, it’s about building our future. And it’s not just SkillsUSA. There are other programs or just locally in your community.

Terry: Maybe garment decorating is really high school and cliques happen naturally no matter what we do. And of course, we are drawn to like-minded people. Everyone wants to belong to something bigger and be accepted. But when the industry cliques are tasked with education and managing groups, I feel a lot of educators or people who have something to contribute are looking in from the outside. It’s the same type of good ole boys and girls, just wearing different t-shirts. For 2024 I’d like to see the folks who make these decisions make these opportunities more open to everyone who wants to participate.

Aaron: I’m going to parrot Terry a little bit, but go at it from the other side. We need more people to step up and be educators. Lots of people have knowledge to share. DAX education program is an example. I reached out to over 50 people. Got 14 responses and most of them were the same educators. The program is great, but it would be nice to have more new faces. 

Terry: I believe with the surprising success of DTF printing, that maybe by Printing United we will see more of the major industry manufacturers make a serious plunge into DTF technology. It’s inevitable. I think there was some level of looking down their noses at the process, and now I’m guessing there has been some scrambling to not be left behind. Let’s remember this prediction when we’re broadcasting live from Vegas this fall at Printing United.

Aaron: Better team store option. There are a few on the market, but some are overly expensive, too narrow, or hard to use. 

Terry: Based on a suggestion from a friend of the show Tom Rivet at Chicopee High School, in 2024 I’d like to see the industry create pathways to careers in the industry. Tom is training high school students in garment and product decorating already, and I’d like all of us at 2RG whether on the microphones and listening in your own businesses, to think of ways to help high school and college students find attractive opportunities for careers in our industry. Aaron, I know you are deeply involved already through Skills USA, but we can all be a part of bringing the next generation of decorators forward.

Aaron: Bookkeeping / Accounting specialized 

Terry: I know you’re going to put me on the clock here, but I want to at last build on my 52/15 Training and make it more than just an educational concept that I teach. We talked recently on the show about how our listeners can put this concept into action in their own shops. I’m going to do more in 2024 to help facilitate this training in shops across the country and the world.

Aaron: OK, putting ourselves on task sounds like a good idea. Now that the book is done, the next thing I want to see is a time (priority) management system for small business owners. I’m already working on it and have been using my own system for a while, but want to refine it and add some details for decorators and their marketing. I have some MOS members I’m working with on that, so before the end of the year for sure, and shooting for mid year.

The Secret Sauce

We serve up bite-sized tips for our #regulators to instantly spice up their decorated apparel business. Just like the perfect wing sauce, these quick tips can transform your business experience, adding flavor and depth to your operations. Each video in this playlist is a nugget of wisdom, carefully selected for its potential to bring immediate value to your work. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started in the decorated apparel industry, dip into our ‘Secret Sauce’ for insights that can help you soar. Remember, the right tip at the right time can be just the secret ingredient you need for success.

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