Youth entrepreneur screen printing his mark in Genesee County
Submitted by Scott Grefrath on February 15, 2010 - 9:18pm
In times of a tough economy, there is only one way to find a guaranteed job; you have to create it and that’s just what current Genesee Community College student and the college's CEO Club President, 20 year old Tim Walton did.
During the summer of 2007, Tim was going into his senior year at Batavia High School and had a busy schedule ahead since he was the captain of the Batavia Ice Devils varsity hockey team and school mayor. This left a lot of responsibility but not a lot of time to hold a job.
After a childhood where Walton had owned a lemonade stand at age 8, on Meadowbrook Golf Course, managed the ice rink sound booth since age 12, and owned a web based business at age 16, Walton always had the mindset to be his own boss. “I knew that when I got older, I wanted to sell things, own my own business, and be creative with it at the same time”. That was when Walton, who has always been artistic, decided to explore graphic design and jobs that go along with that. “I thought to myself; I like designing things, why not design stuff to put onto shirts and mugs?” He then contacted a local print company to print clothing and other companies to print the promotional (pens, mugs, etc) wholesalers that would print the products for him, and allow him to resell them to his customer at the retail value. This is when Walton, officially launched his home based, yet professional, TopLine Shirt Company.
While selling products for the wholesalers, Walton, who was self taught in the graphic design field, secured a contract job as the graphic artist for one of the local screen printing shops, which gave him the edge in learning the industry and a steady cash flow. Being dedicated to what he was doing, Walton wanted to expand what he did, and not rely on others to print his orders. After not taking a personal pay check for the months during the start of his business, Walton saved all the money and purchased one of the only digital printers in Western New York, which allows for full color prints on clothing. “Digital printing basically dyes the image into the fabric. It’s especially beneficial for low-minimum orders, lots of colors and photos”. This was a niche that gained Walton a large advantage over the other screen printing and print shops. “It replaced the old method of applying heat sealed photos that eventually just crackle off”, he said. “For me it was something I could be proud of. I made my mark on the local industry and it was showing that I could do whatever I put my mind to”.
For Walton, this was the niche that he needed. Within six months, Walton had picked up so much business that he was finding he needed to stay up all night at times, printing to fulfill his orders. Six months later, Walton had saved to expand once again and bought his own screen printing equipment. “When I got my screen printing equipment, I finally felt as though I was a complete shop”. Walton’s screen printing equipment allows him to print up to 300 shirts per hour, as well as other materials such as jackets, sweatshirts, bags and much more. “If you come to me to get something printed, I can either print it myself or I have a wholesaler to do it”. This one-stop shop mentally along with Walton’s marketing/business background have allowed him to quickly make an impact on the local market, while securing customers from Pennsylvania and Ohio and as far as Florida, Texas, California and even Canada.
“I started by selling items other people printed, now I am the one doing the printing for people that want to sell what I do. It’s really exciting to know that all my hard work is finally beginning to payoff."
Walton currently does not have a store front, which has been beneficial, although he states that is currently in the works, and operates out of his house as well as a warehouse shop that his friend’s family allows him to use. “Keeping my fixed costs low allows me to bring high quality products to my customers at a lower price.” To place orders or for more information, you can contact him on his business cell phone at (585) 813-4374, email email@example.com or through his website at www.mytopline.com.