CARROLL, Iowa -- Walking into the graphic edge you can sense a bit of a buzz.
“We go to work every day. We work hard. We try to put together a good product,” said John Reglein, Owner of The Graphic Edge.
It’s the sound of a group working together in perfect harmony, like hundreds of worker bees doing their part to pollinate a garden.
“We have done as many as 30,000 shirts in a weekend,” said Reglein. “We have 265 (employees) here in Carroll and another 45 at our plant in Vermont.”
If everything goes just right it will blossom into something special.
“We’ll do probably 40 million dollars in sales this year. We’ll ship around 3 million garments,” says Reglein.
John Reglein and his hive have built an empire. They are one of the biggest team appeal dealers in the county. Chances are if you bought a high school team shirt in the Midwest, his crew had a hand in it.
“You walk down the street or in a different town or community and you’ll say, hey there is one of our garments,” said Reglein.
That wasn’t always the case, we have to go back to 1989 to see the humble beginnings.
“We had bought very fundamental screen printing equipment and a book called ‘Printing Shirts for Fun and Profit.’ We thought ourselves the screen printing business,” said Reglein.
“I had no idea what was going on. I had no idea what screen printing was,” said Jeff Peffet, who was there from the beginning of the company. “He grabbed me after a bowling night, one night. He sat there and talked to me and said ‘Do you want to come and work me for a while and we’ll see how it goes.” I started with him back then and now it’s become this.”
“At that point and time it was just trying to survive. It just put food on the table and keep the doors open,” said Reglein.
Puffet said he was warned by others not to get in on the ground floor but he chose to take a chance with John.
With that screen printing book in hand they planted the seeds.
“Well it’s not that easy. It was in the back end of a bar. Actually,” said Reglein. “Everything. I built screens, printed the t-shirts and I did the artwork. Did everything it takes now-a-days.”
Like most great things it took patience in the beginning.
“Oh, not very many. Ya know, we’d probably do 24-36 a day, something like that,” said Reglein.
With collaboration and precision, their cultivation paid off.
“We did a year’s worth of business is the first six months,” says Reglein. “So, at that point and time we had a chance to grow the business. We have been in growth mode ever since. “
“It took a while but we really got some things fine-tuned. Now, we are about as efficient as we can get,” said Puffet.
Today they have an 80,000 square-foot warehouse, they employ over 300 workers, and it all started with chance.
-”John has had all these dreams and he keeps telling me ‘we are going to do this and this,’ and it seems like we reach about every goals he thrown at me,” said Puffet.