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Gandy Ink: Head of the Class In School Apparel

(February 2007) posted on Thu Feb 01, 2007

Learn how the company grew from a small job shop to a prospering specialty decorator serving elementary, junior high, and high schools.


By Lori Leaman

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John and Phil Gandy took on any job that came along when the father and son team opened the Gandy Ink screen-printing shop in 1988. The Gandys had one employee besides themselves, some basic equipment, and a 2000-sq-ft building in San Angelo, TX that was attached to a small theater. The small operation did generate revenue, but the Gandys came to the realization that accepting all types of work wasn't always the most effective way to generate profit. So they decided to narrow the focus of their business.

Gandy Ink's first target was the gift market, to which the shop sold collectible reprints. The company focused on gift shops in the Dallas, TX and Atlanta, GA metro areas and found success in that industry. But problems in dealing with smaller gift shops became a huge burden, especially when it came to collections. So Phil Gandy began looking for other markets with untapped potential as an alternative to the gift market. In 1991, after looking into niches for T-shirts and other wearables, he realized that the simple, plain lettering and the one and two-color designs on most high-school apparel were far inferior to the graphics and designs he'd seen on garments for colleges and professional sports. He decided that bringing the look of higher-end collegiate wear to the high-school market was the way forward for Gandy Ink.

The company hired a few sales representatives and turned them loose on high-school groups and organizations at the beginning of the school year. The team at Gandy created some high-quality spirit-wear designs, ordered an inventory of T-shirts and fashion tops, and began to move the products almost immediately.

Sales were on the rise, but not to Phil's satisfaction. His solution became known as the Gandy Guarantee. If customers who ordered spirit wear and other printed apparel failed to sell any of the products, Gandy Ink would take the entire order back. The program proved to be successful, as only one school wasn't able to sell in the first spring semester of the program's implementation. The Gandy Guarantee built up the company's name in the school-apparel market and significantly boosted sales.

Gandy Ink moved to a 5000-sq-ft facility in 1995. With the move, the company added four-head embroidery machines. Screen-printed apparel remained the company's primary source of income, but Gandy's customers found embroidery to be an attractive value-added service.


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