Fastest-Growing Supplier

#1 T-Shirt Tycoon – Quality Comes First

The company is committed to offering a better product. Its nearly 2,000% growth proves customers like what they see.

For T-Shirt Tycoon Solutions Inc., success seems to hinge on this one goal: Make the closet, not the drawer. Translation? The company aims to produce a garment so appealing that its tees will become the ultimate must-have item. With revenue growth approaching 2,000% over the past three years, T-shirt Tycoon might have accomplished just that.

“We’re not your traditional screen printer with a $1.99 promotional T-shirt,” says Mima Cavan, marketing manager for the Garland, TX-based company. “What we focus on is a more retail-quality garment, which we manufacture in the USA.”

Rather than be a go-to source for low-cost apparel, despite the industry’s constant pull to offer more for less, the young company is banking on an alternate strategy. It hopes resisting price-pressured market demand will actually be its ticket to market domination. “There’s a study out there that shows that the typical promotional T-shirt might get worn once or twice and then gets used for a dust rag,” Cavan says, “whereas if you go with a retail-quality garment, it’s going to stay in the closet six to 10 times,” if not longer.

This idea of offering a markedly better garment has been the focus of T-shirt Tycoon since it was started by the supplier’s president and CEO Adam Walterscheid, an industry veteran, in 2010. Walterscheid, who began his career screen-printing many of his college’s Greek life T-shirts, split with partners from a previous firm when they wanted to broaden their product line, says Cavan.

It seems Walterscheid’s T-shirt-centric vision has paid off. Sales at T-shirt Tycoon jumped from $220,000 to $2.2 million in a single year and will top $4.6 million this year, according to Cavan.

But the company isn’t banking on quality garments alone to ensure its success. The firm’s approach to the marketplace has been to partner with trusted distributors whenever possible. Walterscheid himself goes on sales calls with distributors who do regular business with T-shirt Tycoon.

In addition, the supplier offers factory tours that include detailed tutorials on the company’s domestic manufacturing and decorating processes. Attend one of these tours and a distributor might learn, for example, that “we don’t use standard plastisol inks,” Cavan says. “There are not too many T-shirt suppliers doing water-based discharge decorations, which gives you a soft vintage feel.”

Educating distributors – through live events like webinars – is another component of T-shirt Tycoon’s plan. “A lot of people don’t know much about screen-printing,” says Cavan. Education makes those distributors that much more informed, helpful and impressive to their own clients and, ultimately, an extension of T-shirt Tycoon’s own sales force. “It’s really simple,” Cavan says, “once you get the hang of T-shirt Tycoon’s processes, the easier it will be for you to sell it.”

To that end, the company is also big on sending out sample kits to authorized distributors, which include T-shirts, details about production processes and information about the latest retail and industry trends. In fact, the company seems to drive a lot of its success based on proactively reaching out to clients. Sure, every supplier has an active sales team that builds relationships with key distributors, but T-shirt Tycoon is mindful of what happens beyond the initial sale. Its staff works hard to spur and stay ahead of reorders to keep garments flowing in a way that’s beneficial to both customer and vendor alike.

When July 4th rolled around this year, for instance, the company, like many in the industry, braced for last-minute holiday T-shirt orders. But its ramp-up wasn’t a behind-the-scenes production. Instead, T-shirt Tycoon sought to get ahead of its rivals, sending out e-mails in May that reminded top customers about the holiday. It might sound like a small effort, but “nine times out of 10” those reminders “help alleviate the rush,” Cavan says.

Constantly keeping ahead of the curve has been challenging, Cavan admits. To remain competitive and agile despite such tremendous growth, T-shirt Tycoon has espoused precision within its 30-member team to be able to offer its one-stop-shop approach. Clients can order tees, have them custom-designed, packaged and sent all from one location, domestically.

“Honestly, I would say there’s just not enough time in the day,” Cavan says. To keep pace, the company, which offers a multitude of screen-printing options, including lenticular and gloss prints, has adopted a “very, very precise production schedule that keeps us on track,” Cavan says, “down to the minutes it takes to mix ink.”

The approach, she adds, is strikingly unique. “I’ve worked at a few different apparel companies that have done screen-printing and I’ve never seen it done this way,” Cavan says. Tracking processes that assiduously “not only affects our time but the budget as well. Most people aren’t accounting for the time it takes to mix ink or the time it takes to slide a shirt onto the palette.”

Knowing exactly how long each process takes – from front-end office tasks to production floor functions – saves both time and money, something the company ranks as a top priority as it grows so swiftly. And a leaner, more efficient T-shirt supplier is exactly the kind of apparel company that will thrive in the years to come.

Fastest Growing Supplier