You have to diversify
Lone Star Awards and Graphics offers screen printed and embroidered apparel, custom dye sublimated jerseys, and engraved banners and awards. They started off with two founders with 1,500 square feet. The business has expanded to seven employees and a 6,000 square ft work space.
The business prides itself on providing a service or product no one else has. Lone Star offers in-house dye sublimation, 3-D puff embroidery, and traditional cut and sew. They are one of five garment decorator businesses in the U.S. that do in-house cut and sew.
“We built our business model on what we liked,” Richard Hartcraft says. “We found out no one was providing that service. It brought customers on board.”
The idea for these advanced decorated apparel services started with Richard and Kippie’s son. He was on a traveling baseball team, so they would see new techniques on the other teams’ uniforms while they watched him play.
Once Lone Star added on each equipment market — screen printing, embroidery, digital printing, dye sublimation — the business kept getting more and more customers.
“You have to diversify,” Richard says. “Having a variety of equipment helps fill in the voids, the ebb and flow of the business’ core.”
Lone Star was able to diversify because of the financing Beacon Funding provided.
“Financing through Beacon has allowed us to enter into some markets that otherwise would have just not been possible from a small family-owned business,” Kippie says.
A no-hassle financing partner
About a decade ago, Richard and Kippie attended the NBM Tradeshow in Dallas in order to see what options were out there. They found a manual screen printing press and dryer they wanted from a dealer at the show. The Beacon rep they met there followed up after the show and sealed the deal. That’s when their Beacon partnership was born.
“The real question is what have we not financed with Beacon Funding over the years?” Kippie says. “We originally started with screen printing equipment and a full start-up package with everything we needed.”
Since that first lease, Lone Star has financed nine pieces of equipment with Beacon, including dye sublimation printers, embroidery machines, a digital printer, a gas dryer, a laser engraver, and a screen printing press and dryer.
For Richard and Kippie, the funding process has become a well-oiled machine because Beacon is familiar with their industry and business needs. Now they just have to send Beacon three months of bank statements to get new equipment.
“We’ve been to the bank,” Richard says. “It’s like applying for a mortgage; it takes forever. If we had waited on getting a loan from a bank, we wouldn’t be the size we are now or have grown as fast. Every time we call up Beacon, it’s just a matter of time; we get the equipment and put it to use.”
Lone Star still has every asset that they’ve financed, including over 16 other pieces of equipment. They want to continue to grow from there.
Small business, big growth
Lone Star Awards and Graphics has been able to make smart business decisions based around their new equipment acquisitions. They’ve saved thousands in utility costs every month by switching from all electric dryers to gas dryers. They also plan to acquire more decorated apparel equipment in the future.
For a small business, Lone Star has been able to expand at a rapid pace, offer advanced decorated apparel technology, and increase their market share due to a trustworthy financing partner.
“We started with nothing,” Richard says. “In 10 years of working with Beacon we’ve had $2.5 million in gross sales.”
Now that’s a home run.