Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The test of time

We asked customers to submit photos of Brown and Harco machinery that they owned for years and are still using in production.  The response was amazing.  We also started collecting some photos of machines that we know are in production because they are from service calls within the last 6 weeks.  Again, we are pleased and surprised at the age and durability of our products.

We think this is an indication that our products are excellent investments.

Some of our favorite photos came from customers who showed old and new in production together.  The oldest combo is this SuperPrinter from 1983 and the ElectraPrint Jr. from 2012.

Side by side they deliver results every day.
Courtesy of Clay Tees Printing
We also noticed that a clean shop means machinery that lasts.  Notice how clean these are?

These are vintage in great condition.  Both are circa 1987.
Courtesy of O'Callahans

Courtesy of Custom 31 Graphics
We received many other photos.  Some looked old, but they were not quite as antique as the customer thought.  They were all in working condition and it was a bit of a walk down memory lane for our staff.

So, what is the oldest machine that we saw?  Well, the photo of the complete unit was never sent, but close-ups were.  Also sent, was the original sales material from when they purchased the unit.

Vintage 1979.  

Courtesy of DeMans Team Sports
We thank all the people who sent in photos.  If you have some, please send.  We are working on a video montage of these.  So the more the merrier.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Vintage machinery. How old it too old?

How old are the machines in your shop?

Every day our service technicians talk to people who are running vintage, museum quality, Harco printing machines.  We still have parts to fix most of these machines and are often amazed that they are still in production.  And, as we since earn our living by selling new equipment, we are dismayed that they are still functioning perfectly.  We do comment to Wes, our founder, that maybe he should not have made them so durable.

It does tell something about what we do and who we are.  We appreciate that shirt decorators want machines that last for years with durability and dependability.  Printers use their machines every day and these machines take quite a pounding.  Often, customers are so busy printing that maintenance is delayed but they still need the machines to perform at optimum levels.  Again, we have Wes to thank for designing printers and dryers that can do this.

We have dug through the archives and found photos of some of the original products that were produced.  Many of the products still look similar to what we produce today.

Machine history video.



The question for you:  

Are you still running machinery that is vintage?  Is it still productive or does it have capacity for what you are producing today?  If you wonder about either of those questions, then you should consider new.  We take trade-ins for what you have and understand how needs change.


Looking to trade up?

Do you have machinery in your shop that is vintage?  Send us a photo of what you have and earn a 25% discount in the month of March.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Friends and Family Social Media Connections

Connecting with our customers is our primary business.
We focus most of our sales time on getting in touch with our customers.  We prefer direct interaction on trade show floors and being in our customer's locations.  We spend most every day on the telephone with our customers discussing printing problems and suggesting ways to improve their businesses.  After all this time together, we consider most of our customers to be our friends and many of them feel like family.

In this era of social media and online connection we have added many ways for our customers to keep up with our new products, product specials and technical advice.  All of these social connections have their own unique value.  Some, like this one, allow us to explore technical issues in depth.  Others give us the opportunity to shout out special offers and quick tips.

Additionally, as this is a connection between friends, we share, retweet, tag and repost any event or happening our customers post.  So if you are trying to expand your web presence, connect with us.

Here is a list of ways our customers can find us on the web.


Facebook

On Facebook we have 2 pages.  Our main Brown Facebook page has daily specials and information about upcoming events.  Our BrownDigital Facebook page offers insight and product information on the DragonAir product line.  We also share what other members in our industry has posted.  This is a great way to keep up on  some interesting magazine articles and blogs.

Twitter

Twitter has the specials of the day and additional information on what is happening at events as they happen.  #ISS, #NMB, #DAX, #SGIA, and #PPAI are just some of the hashtags you will see on our twitter feed.

Brown Blog

We also write a blog each month, as you are reading.  We use this space to provide technical direction, new product information and highlight trade show information.  This is a space that gives more than tidbits and sound bites and provides details on how new products and technology can increase your productivity and profitability.


E-blast Newsletter

Monthly we send out our specials and our event information to our Friends and Family customers.  By signing up for our monthly e-blast you will be the first to hear news.  Just send us your email address and we will add it to our list of subscribers.  And do not worry we do not share this list with anyone.  Remember, we think of you as Friends and Family and we treat you that way.

YouTube Channel

If you are looking for detailed product information and instructions on products you own, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.  In addition to having instructional and product information videos available, we had a #YouTubeChallenge for our customers that asked for product endorsements and cool stuff printed on Brown machines.  There are some great videos that came from some very creative people.  If you have one, tag BrownMfg with your video and we will add it to our playlist.


Vine

We are just beginning to play with Vine.  Yo may see some fun stuff and some of our people working hard.  Only 6 seconds?  We think they are worth watching.

If you have a vine video that shows what you print with Brown Equipment, then tag us, BrownMfg.  We will share it with our followers.


LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is an interesting way to connect with people professionally.  Though many of our employees have accounts, we have created a company page that should keep people better informed as to what we do and what new items we are offering.  Make a connection with our company page.  It is a great resource for new ideas.



eBay

Our store lists some smaller items that can be purchased directly online.  Flash cure units and small printers that are easy to UPS can be purchased directly through Ebay and there are some shipping specials that are applied to those purchases.  Additional items will be added as time allows.



Skype, LiveChat, eMail

There are also other ways that we are available for contact.  You can use Skype, brownmfg, or LiveChat from our web site.

Call us!  We like talking directly to people.

The easiest connection to us is by phone.  We are here from 7:30am to 6:00pm EST and our cell phones are always on (unless we are flying).  You will not find an automated attendant at the other end of the call.  Our people, the Brown Family, are here to serve our customers.  So call 616-249-0200 with any questions you have.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trade Show season begins

The 2014 show season kicked off with a new event.  The NBM Printwear show was held last weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This event was small but we are excited by any chance we get to talk face to face with our customers.








This was the premier event for this year's show specials.  We want to heat things up a bit with free flash cure units and screen dryers.


The next show opens today in Las Vegas.  This is the PPAI Show.  We are exhibiting in the Decorate Pavilion with our ElectraPrint Junior and TRXi Curing System.  This event gives us the opportunity to talk with a wide range of specialty producers.  This sparks our creativity.


The final event for January is one of our favorite.  The Imprinted Sportswear Show held at the Long Beach Convention Center.  We have a row of booths to present our full line of production machines.  The DragonAir will be on display as well as some old favorites like the MasterPrinter and NumberPrinter lines.






We look forward to seeing all of our friends on the West Coast and any others who use these events to escape the cold of winter.  If you are looking to expand your printing capacity now is the time to get a great deal.  Stop in to any of the upcoming events and ask for details.

Friday, December 6, 2013

2013 Year in Review


The year in review.  It is all about product innovation.

For those of you who know us well, you understand that we are always about new ideas and innovations.  It is what excites our staff and increases our sales.  When our customers present new production issues or new opportunities become available, our creativity is sparked and the whole company starts looking for solutions and ideas.  2013 offered an array of production situations that have spurred the development of new products and enhancements to existing products.  

Take a look at the entry into a new market.

Not only did we create new products, we created a new division.  BrownDigital directs its efforts toward digitally printed garments.  Not the digital printers, but solving the production problems that have arisen from that new technology.  The idea of digitally printed shirts is growing but making them faster and in less of a hobbyist style is what BrownDigital is all about.

The first product line created in the new division is the DragonAir line of curing systems.  These units use DragonAir Core Technology to created a heated chamber to cure the pre-treat and the ink from digitally printed garments.  These units are also proven to cure conventional inks, water based inks and discharge inks.  

Here is a look at product innovation.

The excitement of the year started with the TRX software development that drove the DragonAir line.  This touch screen curing system control software offers amazing features and benefits not found on any other system.  TRX and TRXi units allow repeatable production environments, analytics on that production and access to control from remote locations.  This software was merged with the production proven UltraSierra X-Series line of conveyor ovens to create a new line of curing systems.

The next product that our engineers tackled was adding Sniper LazerLoad to the ever-popular NumberPrinter.  This enhancement is for simplifying the shirt load process.  Double digit numbers that include a "1" and single digit prints have always been a challenge for shirt-loading in high volume shops.  This new features gives line up guidelines to make the printing easier and faster.



The final enhancement that our engineers have worked on is the new wrench-less, quick-release squeegee and floodbar system for the ElectraPrint automatic textile printers.  This feature makes screen changes faster, squeegee load faster and pressure adjustments unnecessary.

Thankful as ever.

We are forever thankful for our loyal customers, our new customers and our awesome staff.  With new questions from our customers, our engineers get to design new stuff, our plant staff gets to build new things and our sales people can talk about new solutions.  It is a great circle and we look forward to what 2014 will give us the opportunity to create.  Keep asking and watching and you will see some cool stuff.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Athletic numbering. Worth the hassle?

Athletic numbers are difficult. 
Athletic numbers require a lot of patience.
Athletic numbering jobs are everywhere.

Anyone you talk to in the industry will agree that athletic numbering is one of the most difficult jobs to do. This explains why it seems to be a vanishing breed.  We understand why people get frustrated and decide to use transfers, contract the job out, or order the uniforms numbered by the manufacturer.  But avoiding numbering jobs, or finding the easy way out, costs many shops easy money.

Let’s take a look back to when you were first opening your shop.  Why did you open a screen print shop over a retail transfer shop?  There were probably a couple of reasons:
  •  The final look of the garment
  • The feel of the garment
  • The longevity of the final product
  • Customer satisfaction
Now with that being said, when shops receive their $45.00 Dri-Fit Jersey how can they justify placing a transfer on it?  How do you match the colors?  The look, feel, longevity of the final product will decrease customer satisfaction.  Not what you were looking for when you started this business.

Next comes the ordering of the transfer!  The average print shop has at least one high school in their   That means at least two sports per season with 2-3 teams.  So let’s call it 6 teams with 15 kids each.  And, of course, they all want to pick their own numbers,  Gone are the days of 1-15.  Oh yeah, and at least one of the teams wants an off the grid color.   That makes a total of 90 athletic shirts plus the parents that will want one!
town.

Sounds confusing doesn’t it? ….. So let’s take a look at what we need per team.


Alright, Team A needs home and away shirts with Kelly Green 8" numbers on the back and 4" on the front.  This would be your order to the transfer people.
  • 9 - #1’s
    • two  8” packs of 5 for a total of $7.30
    • and two 4” packs for a total $7.30
  • 2 -#2’s 
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 2 -#3’s 
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65 
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 3-#4
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65 
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 1-#7’s 
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 2-#8’s
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65 
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 2-#9’s 
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65
  • 2-#0’s
    • one 8” packs of 5 for a total of $3.65 
    • and one 4” packs for a total $3.65

Freight   =$4.95
Total cost  = $65.70

And now it is time for Team 2…. Don’t worry we won’t go through that again.  You get the idea.

After all is said and done.  Each team will cost you anywhere from $40.00 to $75.00 in just the transfers.

If you are to screen print the numbers you have the ink that matches, the quality will be higher, and the time is the same.  The cost per print is $.06.  Total cost of materials for direct printing is $3.60 - $5.00.  
If it were up to us, we would gladly put the extra cash in our pocket!


The truth is print shops have struggled in the past to accomplish number printing by not having the correct set-up and decided that transfers are easier.   Unfortunately, it is most likely due to printers try to jig up a press, make our own stencils, or burn 15 screens to get the job done.  Any of these three options would make us look the other way as well.  Athletic numbering machines have made huge advancements and have finally made it printing numbers in house worth another look.  If you operator can walk up to a printing station as easily as he can walk up to a transfer press and produce the job for 1/4 of the cost, then the machinery is paid for quickly and you make more money.


Hey, making money was the real reason that you opened this crazy business.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is your dryer showing signs that it is time to upgrade?


CD-2411 Circa 1985

I walked through our south warehouse last week and noticed some screen printing dryers that appear to be a little older.  After checking a few serial tags I quickly realized the dryers are older than I am.  Many of these dryers still work and cure shirts as efficiently as they did in their prime, however, like hammer pants, that still function like they did in the 80’s.  It might be time to change your style. 

Disclaimer****If you are still wearing Hammer pants, using a pager, or believe the Internet will not catch on, please disregard the rest of this blog.


Curing technology and dryer efficiency has not changed much since the 80’s, and dryers are not featured on What Not Wear so how do we know if it is time to repair or replace our current curing system.

The following is a couple of questions you can ask yourself about your dryer and I will let you determine the results. 

Determine the Type

 Is your dryer gas or electric?
a.     If Electric continue
b.     If Gas we will tackle that in a later blog post

Size does matter

 Does your current dryer slow down production.
Simply put, drying technology is the same today as it was 25 years ago.  There are only two variables in the curing equation, Heat and Time. The higher you run the temperature, the faster you can run the belt. However this is a thin line, if you only cure the outside of the ink and not all the way through, the ink will fall off, or the shirt gets to hot and combusts.  In a perfect world we would like less heat and more time. If you cannot achieve a good cure at a slower speed it is possible you need a larger dryer. 

Driving a Fiero is not a good idea either

Do you constantly work of your dryer?

The cliché that time is money comes into play here.  If you dryer is not reliable or you constantly stop production to work it, you might want to look at a trade in. Or if jobs get returned due to curing issues this can easily damage your reputation as a company.  I could have kept the a Fiero running and saved a little money upfront but the continued repair and time lost was not worth it. As always in the end keeping the old running is more expensive than starting over again.

If you are reading this, chances are, you aren’t using a MACII

Will the electronic upgrade impact your business?

 If your dryer does not have a digital thermostat you have very little control.  It would be like turning the heat on in your house and never adjusting the temperature, simply opening doors and windows to achieve a comfort level.  The new digital style controls are not just flashy lights, they have function to:


a. Control the heat by turning on and off panels (More efficient)
b. Warn the user if a heater goes out or another part is not functioning correctly.
c. Allow for precise belt times in the oven
d. React to outside elements, by adding intensity or removing intensity from the dryer.

e. High End Dryers

TRX-3611

  1. Remember and store programs
  2. Graph shirt profiles
  3. Run an analysis on every job
  4. Accesses for account and maintenance from off-site 
  5. and loads more stuff.



Even Madonna understands the importance of new fabric

How many new fabrics are you encountering?
1980's
As the consumer markets push polyester, wicking and many other fabric styles, your dryer has to keep up. 

  1. Belt Speed --  Items require very distinct belt speeds, is your dryer capable of 30 seconds and 5 minutes?
  2. Do you have adequate forced air?  
    1. New inks and fabrics require air movement to achieve a proper cure without burning the substrate. 
    2. It is equivalent to convection air in a oven. 
    3. A substrate can stay in dryer longer with air movement and not such direct Infrared Hear.


The above is only intended as quick thought, as complicated as curing technology sounds it is very simple.  I am not going to argue with anyone that a Fiero will not get you from point A to point B.  Just about any commercial grade dryer with function and properly cure shirts, however, sometimes limping along with the old one costs you more time, reputation and headaches than biting the bullet and replacing it with a new one.

I just finished lacing up my roller blades, strapped on my Walkman and am hoping that dancing on the hood of Billy Idol's car won't scratch the killer Firebird paint job.