10 Things We Would Like to See in 2023


From things the industry really needs to wishful thinking, the 2 Regular Guys are back in 2023 with their annual “10 Things” list in their own 10th year on the air. Whether from a 10,000-foot perspective to nuts and bolts ideas, Aaron and Terry look to the coming year with hope and anticipation. Join in with your own thoughts on the future of our industry in this new year.

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Dad Joke

Did you know I opened a gym called New Year’s Resolution

For the first two weeks I have gym equipment there. After that it’s just a bar.

10 Things

Our list from last year…

Terry: Is it too easy and cheap to just say I’d like to see more trade shows happen this year? Most of us like to touch and feel new products, and more and more new industry participants need to be face-to-face with not only equipment and supplies, but vendors, instructors and other decorators. 

Aaron: What Printing United Does in the Garment and Personalized Product Space? This is not necessarily something I’d like to see that I’m not seeing, more of a hope to see what comes from our industry’s trade association. My concern is the packaging and printing worlds that they’ve acquired push out the garment space. But I know there are some fantastic people there like Amanda, Josh Carruth and Cassie Green. So I’m optimistic, just more of a cautionary tale. I’m happy to participate be on panels or support so I’ll do my part.  I’d also love to see more sublimation and embroidery representation. ThreadX?

Terry: Fewer snake oil salesmen. That sounds like a negative but I’m just asking for people to do their research before handing over your CC. There are a few companies in our industry that cause you to cringe when someone says “I just bought from…” 

Aaron: Less “Cliques”. We are all decorators and I know we all have our own communities and what we are drawn to, but how do we support the greater good?

Terry: Shop checkup checklist. When I talk to decorators in a variety of areas about an issue they’re having, I always have them walk step by step through their process. There are certain things consistent from shop to shop I’m looking for. A checklist could be applied to most any decoration method to get everyone “on the same page.” Maybe suppliers could put together a loaner kit to use for testing.

Aaron: A USA made Vacuum Press – I thought back about 5 to 10 years ago there was some interesting stuff happening in the 3D sublimation world, but when people stop buying cell phone cases the interest in 3D sublimation seem to die. I think the only way to resurrect that is to really improve the quality of the presses available.

Terry: More panel discussions like older days of trade shows. I always loved watching these panels of experts and you still see them now and again, but not like in the past. We’ve done it ourselves at DAX. And, if we’re short trade shows again this year, pretty easy to do as an online panel discussion.

Aaron: Embrace the power of the Mastermind – and I’m talking about a real mastermind. There is a specific formula that has been proven over and over again. In fact, back to the time of people like Andrew Carnegie. I see these so-called masterminds pop up frequently that are more of just a tribe or social gathering with a little teaching. A real Mastermind is about accountability working with a limited number of people in a very specific format where time is kept and an agenda is adhered to. I know I run masterminds but I’m not even talking about just mine, I’d like to see it be something that is more readily used and common in our industry. My Mastermind group is invaluable to me and I know the people that are in The Mastermind groups that I run will tell you how much it has changed their businesses. So I just like to see more people be open to the concept and be willing to playful out.

Terry: Side hustle guides. I talked about this once before, suggesting distributors put together equipment packages for people who want to be somewhere between a crafter and a full time decorator. But I think there’s another part to this. You’ve got 10 hours a week you’re giving to this side hustle. Here’s what you should attempt and here’s what you should avoid to make the most of your limited hours and minutes. A focused niche, product line, technology.

Aaron: Disruption of Distributor Model – I found myself going back and forth on titling this disruption or changes, but unfortunately I feel like the distributors have already squandered their chance. From the outside looking in from both my vantage point and the vantage point of many of their customers who are not small by any stretch of the imagination they seem to value bigger profits over customer relationships. 

  1. 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.
  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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, 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. Terry: Innovation, innovation, innovation. Outside of DTF, most industry innovations have been on the shelf for the past Covid 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.
  2. 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.