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Succeeding as a Contract Garment Printer

(January 2002) posted on Fri Feb 01, 2002

Learn the advantages of contract printing and the challenges screen shops face in satisfying customers.


By Terry Combs

I have a special affinity to contract screen-printing work. After all, this is the niche my own screen-printing business was set up to serve. Over the years, I took several forays into custom screen printing and into the subset of producing preprint/custom lines. But inevitably, I always ended up back in the familiar world of contract printing.

A contract screen-printing business is similar to a movie crew. The filming of the movie involves actors who do their work in front of the cameras, as well as production people who work anonymously and inconspicuously behind the scenes. Contract screen printers are the anonymous, inconspicuous equivalent of movie-production crews, working in the background to deliver the products that the end customer sees.

Of the screen-printed garments you are likely to come across in retail environments, more are produced by contract printers than you might think. Unlike custom printers and preprint decorators, who do their work right out in front, directly interacting with the end user of the garment, contractors rarely come into contact with the final garment buyer. In fact, the final consumer rarely has any idea that the contractor exists.

Contract printers do not sell a product. Contract printers sell decorating service--the service of their printing equipment and the expertise required to operate that equipment with a timely and quality result. The contracting printer's customers are the ones responsible for selling the finished garments to the end consumer.

The attraction of contract printing

In a nutshell, the main benefit of serving this sector of the textile screen-printing market is that it can lead to a steady and constant flow of production for your printing facility. Each contract account you secure acts almost as a separate sales group for your company, a rep group that feeds new orders into the mouth of your production machine. And you get the benefits of these rep groups without worrying about the care and feeding that reps would normally require.


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