Postcard from the Long Beach Imprinted Sportswear Show

View from hotel adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center on January 18, 2014.

View from hotel adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center on January 18, 2014.

For all of you who were able to attend the recent 2014 Long Beach ISS Show (Jan. 17-19), you know it was a very crowded, busy show (attendance up over last year!). And of course no one was complaining about the sunny, 80 degree weather. For all of you that couldn’t be there, I’ll do my best to give you an idea of what it was like with photos.

If you don’t have time to read, here’s the main take-away–there is a major “sea change” going on in the industry, due to two things: The demand for performance wear and the increased ease with which you can now print full color logos.  More on both of those topics later this week. But first, a quick overview of our first day in Long Beach:

Guests were invited to a pre-show breakfast on Friday. Thank you to all who were able to attend.

Guests were invited to a pre-show breakfast on Friday. Thank you to all who were able to attend.

On Friday, we had the honor of welcoming around 200 guests to the Stahls’ Welcome Center before the show started. We wanted to share

Dan Stahl, Jason Murphy, me, Carleen Gray and Josh Ellsworth get ready to greet our guests on Friday. More pics later this week.

Dan Stahl, Jason Murphy, me, Carleen Gray and Josh Ellsworth get ready to greet our guests on Friday. More pics later this week.

some exciting news about our plans for 2014 and we invited customers, industry colleagues and members of the press to join us for a pre-show breakfast. Thank you to everyone who attended, including one of our most loyal customers, Joan Roberson of  Roberson Enterprises, who has been doing business with Stahls’ since 1984. And thanks also to the great folks from SanMar, Hanes, Epson, Impressions, GroupeSTAHL members from Japan, Germany and England, and the newest members of the GroupeSTAHL family, Mr. Kamada and his sons, and Mr. Frank Gizatullin of The Wild Side and his son Sean. (more on that later!) Many thanks to all of our team members that worked so hard to prepare for this event, lead by VP of Marketing Carleen Gray. After being introduced by CEO Brian Sukarukoff, I said the following, (with a few ad libs):

It’s great to see you all here today.

If you take a look around the room, you can see that we’ve got a lot of new and exciting ways to decorate garments—new technologies and innovations to show you. But before we go into all that…

….let me just say that I feel very blessed, as I’m sure you all do, to be involved in the wonderful world of apparel decorating—because this industry is truly EXPLOSIVE.

You might not have been around — like I have–to see it grow from the days of Woodstock and tie-dye t-shirts.  But we can all agree that the demand for custom t-shirts and custom sportswear shows no signs of slowing down.

Who do we have to thank for all this growth?

I believe there are several factors, — but first I want to take a moment to thank those of you out on the front line, leading the charge, driving the industry. Our customers.

And we have one very special customer here today, Joan Roberson Enterprises, who we have been doing business with Stahls’ since 1984.  I personally want to thank you for your business and for all your orders — we wouldn’t be here without you.

Joan, and other businesses out there, can attest to another reason the market is booming—even in a market where end-consumers are more demanding, and where high performance, speed and technology plays a bigger role than ever before—apparel decoration has a lot more facets than there used to be. There are so many more options. It used to be easier to keep customers happy. For example, as a college student in the 60s, I filled my car with kits of felt lettering and drove to the East coast, where we had a lot of sporting goods stores as customers. I made a little detour and went into one of the t-shirt shops on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.   Even back then, it was popular to have your name heat printed on a shirt or sweatshirt. One of the shops, was using an old grey felt adhesive called “gutta percha” on their lettering that didn’t have much sticking power.  I had a better product to offer, one with a thermal-adhesive that was far superior, but I overestimated the store manager’s interest in better technology. He told me “as long as it stays on the shirt until the customer gets out of the front door, he was happy.How times have changed. Today you have to have one ear on the needs and problems of your customers and the other on the pulse of the latest technologies so that you can put the two together.  This is the only way you can create innovations that allow our customers to serve their customers faster and better.

Today’s consumers are more educated and much more demanding. They are very well informed about most of the options available to them.

1.   They want multi-color designs that include neons, glitter and reflective—in any quantity.

2. They want metallic and textures that stretch and rebound.

3.   They want reliable products that work on polyester and sublimated jerseys.

4.   They want low temperature solutions for printing monograms, designs and transfers on burnout t-s and other high fashion options.

They want soft-hand or no-hand printing results.

5.   They want digital printable media that can be cut when wet, no dry times, no wait, no rush fees.

6.   They want special effects, like the new “liquid” or tone on tone looks.

7.   They want more detailed artwork—we call it “art that sells shirts.”

After several years of work, we are able to show you products and new technologies that make all of these things possible. And here are some of the people we have to thank for making that happen:

1.   First I’d like to introduce Mr. Kamada. We have been doing business with Mr. Kamada for over 20 years.  He has one of the greatest technical minds in the industry when it comes to garment decorating.  In the last few years we’ve been jointly developing adhesives for heat transfer films at our Asian production facilities. In a few moments, we will be introducing the results of our research and development to all of you. We believe it will change the way you look at CAD-CUT and CAD-PRINT materials.

2.   Another very exciting announcement is a joint venture that will help our customers grow their businesses by immediately giving them more ways to use a heat press. Please join me in welcoming Frank and his family-owned company, The Wild Side, to GroupeSTAHL. The Wild Side is one of the industry’s most respected and well run transfer manufacturers and they have a huge collection of amazing high definition stock transfers.  This should complement our custom transfer programs of Transfer Express. Welcome to the GroupeSTAHL family! Things truly are going to get WILD at Stahls’ in 2014.

3.   Now I have just one more important announcement. Ten years ago, we determined that one of the major future technologies for this industry was going to be the direct to garment printer. We made a large investment of time and money to research and determine available options but we never found one that met all our criteria for reliability and performance. But when Epson announced their SureColor direct to garment printer, we knew we had found the right choice. We believe Epson has the right solution everyone will need for full color printing, particularly short run. And we look forward to working with them to introduce the SureColor printer. I’d like to thank everyone at Epson, and especially Mark and his crew for the confidence they have put in us.

I have a lot more to share with you all about our time spent in Long Beach, and I would also like to give you more insight on the key takeaways from the show. But for now I’ll share these photos and please stay tuned this week for more updates.

Martin Borley of Target Transfers in England, along with Frank Brueckner of Stahls' Europe.

Martin Borley of Target Transfers in England, along with Frank Brueckner of Stahls’ Europe.

Josh Ellsworth demonstrates our new STIX-2 media.

Josh Ellsworth demonstrates our new STIX-2 media.

Brian Baker also helped to introduce and demonstrate our breakthrough new STIX-2 CAD-CUT materials.

Brian Baker also helped to introduce and demonstrate our breakthrough new STIX-2 CAD-CUT materials.

Mikiya and Yusuke Kamada of Japan joined us in introducing STIX-2 to our customers and the industry.

Mikiya and Yusuke Kamada of Japan joined us in introducing STIX-2 to our customers and the industry.

Chatting with customer Ralph Mittman of PrintPost.

Chatting with customer Ralph Mittman of PrintPost.

Customers were able to make their own custom t-shirts in the welcome room.

Customers were able to make their own custom t-shirts in the welcome room.

Frank of The Wild Side shows their new puff foil transfer technology.

Frank of The Wild Side shows their new puff foil transfer technology.

A customer from the Phillipines is impressed at the foil application technique.

A customer from the Phillipines is impressed at the foil application technique.

Frank Gizatullin and his son Sean, the newest members of the GroupeSTAHL family!  Stahls' has GONE WILD!

Frank Gizatullin and his son Sean, the newest members of the GroupeSTAHL family! Stahls’ has GONE WILD!

Ariel from Stahls' International chats with Klaus from Stahls' Europe.

Ariel from Stahls’ International chats with Klaus from Stahls’ Europe.

View of our booth.

View of our booth.

We also had the opportunity to show people how easy it is to heat print on SanMar's latest Sport-Tek garments. We had a heat press and transfers in the SanMar booth. Sport Tek is perfect for heat printing! No marks, no lines, no problems!

We also had the opportunity to show people how easy it is to heat print on SanMar’s latest Sport-Tek garments. We had a heat press and transfers in the SanMar booth. Sport Tek is perfect for heat printing! No marks, no lines, no problems!

View of the booth from above.

View of the booth from above.

Dan Stahl demonstrates the Epson SureColor in the Welcome Room.

Dan Stahl demonstrates the Epson SureColor in the Welcome Room.

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Frank and Sean add the GroupeSTAHL logo to their booth.

Frank and Sean add the GroupeSTAHL logo to their booth.

Sean puts the finishing touches on the Wild Side booth.

Sean puts the finishing touches on the Wild Side booth.

On Friday we made several very exciting announcements to our customers and the industry.

On Friday we made several very exciting announcements to our customers and the industry.

Mark of SanMar shows Dan Stahl and Brian McLeod their latest performance garment, Sport-Tek.

Mark of SanMar shows Dan Stahl and Brian McLeod their latest performance garment, Sport-Tek.

Thank you for joining us Deborah Sexton.

Thank you for joining us Deborah Sexton.

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