Predictions 2010 Part 4 of a Continuing Series in January

Dave Wheatley, Director of Sales for GroupeSTAHL, shares his thoughts on the year ahead and makes his heat printing predictions.

Dave Wheatley, Director of Sales for GroupeSTAHL, shares his thoughts on the year ahead and makes his heat printing predictions.

Thanks for all the positive feedback I’ve been getting on this series of predictions for 2010 from GroupeSTAHL people around the world. So far we’ve heard from Brian Baker, Product Research and Development, Josh Ellsworth,  Stahls’ CADCUT Direct and Ulrike Andre, Stahls’ International. Now I have a submission from David Wheatley, who has been with the company for almost twenty years if I’m not mistaken. Today Dave is the Director of Sales for GroupeSTAHL, which means he has a lot of interaction with customers of all shapes and sizes, as well as a wide depth of industry experience from both a production and marketing standpoint.  Before we get to Dave’s contribution, I would just like to let everyone know that this series will continue throughout the month of January, as I am getting bombarded with submissions (keep em’ coming folks!). Again, thanks for reading and for your comments and also for doing everything you possibly can to make 2010 a fantastic year for your business.  Here are Dave Wheatley’s thoughts on the year ahead:

Dave took the opportunity to write a little introduction before getting to his predictions and I thought I would share that as well.

Another NEW YEAR – What’s your choice? by Dave Wheatley

Word on the street for 2010 is “cautiously optimistic”.  If you ask me, we are facing another “Is the glass half full or empty” scenario.  We all remember ’09 from our own unique experiences, not to mention the speed in which information flies around the world today, we hear about thousands of events and happenings each week.  Not that information is bad, but a tremendous amount of what’s absorbed into our brains can cloud our minds and distract us from the essentials.  When I hear those words, I believe we have a choice to make, and I have chosen to focus on the OPTIMISTIC side.  Imagine the kind of day we’d h have in the United States if 300 million people woke up one day and chose to be optimistic.  Though unlikely to occur, I believe we are all capable of discerning how productive and happy we would be relative to all of us opting to be cautious.

Now let’s get down to business…the facts are we have choices daily and the great thing about being in the Heat Printing and apparel decorating business is that we have a ton of good options to choose from.  I’ll focus on one specific area of business for the moment…Inventory Management!  I know, it doesn’t sound sexy and entertaining, and it may not be, but after 2009, I know we can all relate.  When the economy really began to constrict last year, most were forced to find ways to conserve and cut back, many quickly acknowledged that all that stuff (ink, twill, thread, T’s, numbers, etc…) on our shelves becomes expensive if it isn’t selling.  So here are a couple of options for 2010, on the decoration side, to keep our customers happy and our businesses lean:

  1. Stock only the essential, quick turning colors of lettering, logos and materials.
  2. Consider reducing the amount of custom printing and cutting you do in house, outside of your core base accounts.  Use those resources to serve your best clients or special rush jobs that allow you to charge a premium.  Designate your resources elsewhere like marketing your company and selling more jobs.
  3. Even if you have screen printing capabilities in-house, look to transfers for a quick-turn, inexpensive alternative.  They look and feel nearly identical to direct printing, they apply in seconds, no set up or clean up time, and can typically be delivered to your shop in 24 to 48 hours.
  4. Rely on us to perform the labor intensive aspects of garment decorating, saving you the cost of skilled labor.

Dave’s Predictions for 2010

General Economic Climate

Most companies appear to be approaching 2010 with cautious optimism.  None tend to believe things can be as bad as 2009.  If we press early, we should have some opportunity with heat presses and cutters.  This may continue as long as the economy continues to improve.  Since a cautious undertone will persist, companies will likely continue to be conservative with inventory levels.

Inexpensive and unique

Customers want something new and creative that does not cost 5 times more than the standard decorating options, nor do they prefer to make a substantial investment in time or equipment.


Transfers should flourish this year, as they fit many of the criteria of today’s business climate.  We make them quickly, customers do not need to stock much if any, they are inexpensive, lightweight, design potential is nearly unlimited, suitable for all markets (sportswear, corporate, promo, etc…).  All customers need is a heat press.

Challenge will be to keep ideas flowing for those lacking in design creativity.  Evolving our inks to be thinner, lighter, and softer is crucial.  We need to adapt some of our business model to grow in new markets that differ from our core competencies of today.


When referencing the items we wish to embellish, the softer and lighter, the better, will continue to be the trend.  Soft organic and enzyme washed cottons to the ongoing evolution of performance based textiles.  I never thought I’d see the day when POLYESTER was king!

To compliment the textiles above, there needs to similar design and decorating options.  Materials and inks will carry on adapting via technical appliqués, DTG advancements in ink, digital transfers, and more.

Plaids, stripes, patriotic, polka dots, and animal print fabric continue to be hot.  Anything accented with sequins’ or rhinestones is also very popular.  The trouble with any of these is they are not very convenient or flexible, which is where our opportunity lies.

Bold colors are said to be prominent!

Soft, stretchy, breathable (technical fabrics) used to create letters and numbers will begin to blossom in 2010.

ECO friendly products will continue to make noise…hence our promoting US made, certified, guaranteed materials will be priceless in the long run.

Heat Printed ART

While heat printing has many advantages over other decorating options, it has some limitations, unless we remove them.  The bulk of what we present and sell in terms of art is in the form of patches, emblems, or multi-layered with little detail.  Screen, embroidery, and DTG all offer the ability to provide discontinuous art…ornamental, floral, splatters, trees and nature, wings, ethnic, etc…

  • We need to present more detailed options, where we don’t force the customers to do more…remember they want to save time and money too.
  • Offset multi-color vs. color on color
  • Offer distinctive style transfers that can be combined with more standard variety product. E.g. semi-stock wings or floral in a discharge style transfer is a perfect supplement to standard transfers or appliqué work.


  • We will see an increase in what is created with lasers…directly etching to fabrics or onto appliqué.
  • Any internet based Service Company or a company who offers Internet creation, hosting, and potentially fulfillment to retail locations will expand this next year.  Companies wish to offer new and exciting materials, looks, and processes, while few are in a position to afford the equipment or maintain the capacity to merchandise, sell, or produce them internally.
  • Sublimated uniforms will also gain popularity for those who custom manufacture the entire jersey etc…
  • DTG will see some improvements…there is way too much upside potential for them to walk away now.  Inks and speed are said to hit new levels this year.


  • Promotional products will see good growth in 2010
  • Any sport utilizing performance products will also show improvement (cycling, running, MMA)
  • Health care…nursing homes to doctor scrubs
  • Home décor market – interior design companies
  • Craft and hobby
  • SAFETY – all markets
  • Industrial uniforms

Dave, thanks for your contribution. I agree with many of your predictions and look forward to see if we are right! Happy heat printing everyone.

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    That ‘s great ! Amazing article. Very very love this. Many thanks.

  4. Kristie Wilder / Life is labs. (TM) says:

    Ted, is there any chance that you could please email me at I know there is no other way that I would ever be able to get in touch with you. Thanks for this great blog; I really enjoy it.

  5. Ted says:

    Thank you for your comment and thanks for reading. Please let me know how I can help.

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