Notes from Print Hustlers

Scribbled test notes from Print Hustlers 2022

Last weekend saw about 180 or so folks from the decorated apparel industry gather in Fort Worth, Texas, for the annual Print Hustlers conference. It was a fun and engaging event.

Bruce Ackerman and Brett Bowden did a wonderful job putting together a memorable event.

Justin Lawrence from the Oklahoma Shirt Company was the emcee and was fantastic. He should host a game show or something.

Justin Lawrence from the Oklahoma Shirt Co was the emcee for Print Hustlers 2022.
T-shirt printed by Gorilla Joe Printing for the Adventures in Apparel Decorating show

I thought it might be fun to post my notes from the event. I took about thirteen pages of scribbles based on things someone said or ideas I thought about while listening. The main notes are in black, and any thoughts or questions I had for follow-up are in orange.

Take a look below, and if anything is interesting or even confusing, schedule a time with me, and I can provide clarity.

Marshall Atkinson with Lon and Jane Winters
Marshall Atkinson with Lon and Jane Winters

Saturday 11/5/2022 Print Hustlers – Printavo Updates

  • Printavo has new payment updates that allow you to process ACH payments and refunds.
    • Q: They didn’t before?
  • CloudApp – this app allows you to take a screenshot with an URL instead of sending something as an attachment.
  • Matt Marcotte (MM) – “Most shops don’t have established processes.”
    • Need to write down and document.
    • Q: Is there a Printavo SOP Template that shops can use? Answer: No.
    • MM – Google Sites is a great place to build SOPs for your shop. “It is a webpage within a webpage for documentation.”
    • Printavo allows you to customize your quote pipeline.
    • Printavo allows you to keep organized with Statuses.
      • These are usually arranged in the order of operation.
      • Each department should have its own color theme.
      • The name for each Status can be custom but needs to be easily understood and obvious.
      • Can automate statuses with triggers.
      • Can use emojis to denote something.
        • For example, the “Rocketship” emoji means “send to customer.”
  • Printavo allows you to create a Dashboard to understand what’s happening in your shop.
    • Use Filters to understand key elements in the Pipeline.
    • #name – can tailor to a salesperson’s total or other key tags you create.
  • Q: Does Printavo use Design Numbers to identify different sets of artwork? Answer – No, according to MM.
  • Q: Can you pull reports in Printavo highlighting details such as Impressions total? – need to find out.
Marshall Atkinson with Doug and Scott from East Coast Screen Printing
Marshall Atkinson with Doug and Scott from East Coast Screen Printing

Printavo Power Scheduler

  • Printavo Power Scheduler – a great new addition for scheduling work and planning in advance.
    • Q: For jobs not complete by the end of the day – will it automatically move and schedule orders on tomorrow’s schedule?
    • You can automate information from your shop’s website to fill out Printavo using Zapier. Shops having success using JotForm or Typeform.
    • Create automation with Zapier, such as adding to your mailing list or sending a text message with a Printavo Status is complete.
    • Printavo looking to automate dates next year.
    • Step Statuses can be used by default or manually added and customized.
    • Imprint location is color coded for easy grouping. For example, Red = Left Chest. Blue = Full Front.
    • Q: Is the Production Date the Ship Date?
    • Jobs can be dragged and dropped on the calendar. You can prioritize jobs this way and in any order.
    • Large jobs can be split into smaller chunks. For example – the order could be split into two. 1a and 1b. These can be scheduled on two different shifts or even two different presses.
Marshall Atkinson with Frank Good and Joe Sudrovic
Marshall Atkinson with Frank Good and Joe Sudrovic

Printavo ProTips

  • Printavo ProTips
    • Use Loom to review quotes with Printavo to explain to customers.
    • Q: Does Printavo auto-resend quotes or art approvals?
    • Put common text answers or things you always copy and paste in your “Stickies” or “Notes” on your computer.
    • Printavo has customization on how to invoice and load into QuickBooks. This includes fees.
    • Printavo has quote automation available.
      • ACH payments available
      • Coming soon – Saved Credit Card numbers on file.
      • Payments are not available for Canadian users.
Marshall Atkinson with Gavin St. Georges and Brian Richards
Marshall Atkinson with Gavin St. Georges and Brian Richards

Print Hustlers Main Conference Notes

Sunday 11/6/2022 – Cowboy Channel Studios

First speaker – Lukas Holland with FastCap

  • FastCap – home of “2 Second Lean” by Paul Akers
  • Lukas Holland (LK) “Lean should be easy.”
    • Train EEs (employees) to fix problems
    • Create clear processes
    • Make your EEs addicted to making their jobs easier
    • The job of a Lean Coach is to help the EE.
    • You need systems.
      • Make changes every day.
    • Invest in training your EEs to fix what bugs them.
Lukas Holland with FastCap at Print Hustlers 2022
Lukas Holland with FastCap at Print Hustlers 2022

Start Each Day with Lean

  • 1st hour of every day – “Clean and Sort”
    • Pay your people to make improvements to the company.
    • They come up with ideas.
      • Check with 2 stakeholders and 1 leader before implementing – Make sure you get advice.
    • A morning meeting is an investment.
      • Lean meeting for 5 minutes.
      • Train and teach concepts.
      • Teach W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno
      • Review your Dashboard –
        • Kanban cards
        • Backorders
        • Missing Tools
        • Housekeeping
      • LK – “Keep the rope tight.”
      • Every EE takes turns leading the meeting
        • Helps build confidence in public speaking

What is Lean?

  • Lean is continuous improvements
  • 2 Second Lean are improvements that can save a small amount of time.
  • Easy and achievable.
    • One EE saving 2 seconds = 69 hours in 3 years
    • 15 EEs all improving saves 101,400 hours in 3 years
  • 4 Qualifications for Improvements
    • Safety
    • Quality
    • Simpler
    • Speed
  • Eliminate The Deadly Sins of Waste
    • Overproduction – you make too much
    • Transportation – you move things around unnecessarily
    • Extra Inventory – you buy too much too early
    • Defects – you have errors
    • Over Processing – you add things that don’t have value
    • Wasted Motion – too many extra steps
    • Waiting – extra time added waiting on something
    • Wasted Potential – Higher-value staff doing lower-value tasks

Create Clear Processes

  • LH – When things aren’t right – “Blame the process, not the person”
  • Do you have a clear and easy process?
  • Did you do everything you could?

Where to Start Lean?

  • A great place to start the Lean journey is cleaning the bathroom.
  • Low risk.
  • Always needs to be cleaned.
  • Create the Standard
    • Who – who should be cleaning?
    • What – what should be cleaned?
    • Why – why should the bathroom be cleaned?
    • Where – where is the bathroom?
    • How – how should the bathroom be cleaned?
  • Improve the Standard
    • Use QR code – film with a camera on your phone
    • Private YouTube videos

Lean Terminology and Ideas

  • Kanban card – a physical card that indicates all the information needed to replace or reorder items.
  • Everything has a card for reordering.
  • 3 S – Lead from the shop floor – Everything has a home.
    • Sweep
    • Sort
    • Standardize
  • Eliminate Tribal Knowledge
    • QR code to give instructions
    • Instructions at workplace
    • How would a new person know?
    • No one can forget
    • Answers are in your face
  • Get people engaged
    • Don’t do this – “Did it for him instead of teaching.”
      • Understanding
      • Involvement
      • Pride
      • Engagement
  • Use Visual Workplace – Color Coding
  • Use your brain, not your wallet
  • Make EEs jobs easier
  • LK – “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Jump in and make it better. Don’t try to make it perfect at the beginning.”
  • Get something working first, then improve it. Take small steps.
  • Poka Yoke – “Idiot Proofing”
    • Try to make things impossible to fail
    • Visuals
    • No memory needed
    • Shigeo Shingo recognized three types of errors in production
      • Contact – look at the shape, size, color, or other physical attributes
      • Fixed-value – look at movements and steps. Is everything complete?
      • Sequence – were the steps followed and in the right order?
  • Kanban Card Light System
  • LK – “Valueless motions are equal to shortening one’s life.”
  • You have to solve your own problems

Engagement Tips

  • Be energetic about Lean
  • Be an example
  • Lean processes
    • How does it work with EEs that are underpaid or struggling?
    • How are they going to care?
    • How are you going to get them to understand?
    • How can you give them more responsibility?
      • You can pay them more
      • Makes their jobs easier
  • Lean – Mostly used with lots of widgets to be created – Bulk
    • Our industry works better by eliminating variables
    • Keep processes the same
      • Tools
      • Set-Up
      • Equipment
      • Eliminating Waste
      • Transition time
      • Measuring
      • Being proactive

Paul Akers Joined the Discussion

  • When PA started with the idea of 2 Second Lean, it took about a year to get it going well.
  • On hiring: PA likes to use this question, “Who is the most influential person in your life?”
    • Looking for how they learn. Is it someone older, like a parent or former boss…or a movie star, or someone that doesn’t add value?
    • Are they grateful for the knowledge imparted by this person?

People Hiring People

  • At Fastcap, the EEs help hire their coworkers
  • The potential candidate must submit a horizontally filmed video for an open position. They need to explain why they would make a good addition to the Fastcap team. This can be easily accomplished with a cell phone.
    • It is horizontal to see if they can follow one simple instruction.
    • Resumes and job applications – people put on their best face – and this doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are.
    • If they pass this test, they go to the next round, which is to put them to work for one day. They are assigned and mentored by a few staff members. The candidate must get a unanimous vote from everyone they worked with.
    • If they pass this test, then they get to work for one week. PA feels that you can probably pretend to be a good worker on the video and maybe fake your way through one day…but it is impossible to do that for an entire week.
    • If they pass the one-week test, they are hired.

Paul Akers Tidbits

  • Likes to use WhatsApp to communicate – it’s global.
  • Like to use Signal for text messaging.
  • He likes to use Boxer, a Google Play app, for scheduling, email, and contacts.
  • Be intentional in all things.
  • Be strategic with your actions. Think ahead.

Second Speaker – Peter Melby – Boss or Babysitter?

  • Peter Melby (PM) is the CEO of a Denver-based IT company, Greystone Technology.
  • Are you a Boss or a Babysitter?
  • The challenge is in how we engage people.
    • PM – “I wish people would JUST THINK.”
      • “The best ideas don’t always create the best culture.”
      • PM – stopped trusting people – thought he was in a “babysitting club”
  • PM “The more you babysit your EEs, the more you need to babysit your EEs.” It is a vicious circle.
  • PM quoted Steve Jobs – “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people for them to tell us what to do.” Then called BS on the statement.
  • Every company succumbs to the laws of human nature.


  • Culture is how you engage and interact as people.
  • Employees <——–> Company – constant tug of war – this is the crust of human nature.
    • Posturing
    • Selfishness
    • Gossiping
    • Distrust
  • There is a need to unify team members
    • “I want to succeed.”
    • “I want to improve.”
    • “I want to be accepted.”
    • “I want to make more money.”
    • “I want to be able to take risks and survive.”
  • Need alignment between the company and employees.
  • Your company processes do not account for imperfect situations.
  • The Best Employees are self driven and autonomous – but these employees don’t do what we want them to do.
  • CLEAR DIRECTION enables autonomy
    • This is “Commander’s Intent”
    • Accountability meets freedom and purpose
  • Psycological Safety
    • The ability to share your true story with peers, supervisors, and subordinates.
    • Authenticity can be pursued.
    • What does it look like in your organizations?
  • You are only as big as what makes you angry
  • “What do you wish you were better at doing?”
  • Self-reflection is one of our best friends.
  • We between being Externally Self-Confident and Internal Self-Doubt
    • Employee Self-Reflection
    • Direct Criticism
    • These cultivate psychological safety


  • People want to do exciting and meaningful work, but sometimes they can’t do the basics right.
  • “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
    • This was an odd quote to use – does he see the leadership and management of employees as combat?
  • Your company needs Citizenship Rules
    • Rules we agree on in the company
    • No compromise
    • Clearly explained
    • Basic expectations
    • Set at the hiring process
    • If you can’t abide, you are gone
  • Every employee should “talk to someone who can do something about the problem before you talk to someone who can’t.”That’s a good rule.
  • Break rules – but don’t ignore them. The “Why” in the situation is part of that.
  • 3 Things you need – Implementation ideas
    • Directed Autonomy
    • Psycological Safety
    • Citizenship
  • Need a process to implement
    • Clear Direction
    • “Why am I paying you to be here?”
    • Purpose statement
    • 5 Areas of focus for the employee – these can change
      • Think “Rocks” from the book “Traction”
  • Two monthly meetings with each employee – He calls this their “Ringer” – as the two meetings are the rings that connect.
    • First meeting is with the entire team + the manager
    • Second meeting is 1:1.
  • Here’s what is reviewed – in either of the meetings
    • What are you proud of?
    • What could have been done better?
    • Are you stressed or excited about something?
    • What are your roadblocks?
    • How busy are you?
  • Ground Rules – during the meeting, these are the rules to follow:
    • Only paper and pen allowed – no tech
    • Share authentically
    • Listen actively
    • Don’t interrupt
    • Are you?
      • Running
      • Walking
      • Stuck
      • Lost
  • For the 1:1 Meetings
    • Structured, repeated questions
    • Survey can work
    • Are you satisfied and engaged in your job?
    • What are you succeeding at?
    • What are you working to improve?
    • What are your roadblocks?
    • How can I support you better?
  • “What is unsaid?”
  • Information from the manager
    • What are the standout actions?
    • Is there growth?
    • Is there a need to adjust?
  • “Am I meeting expectations?”
    • Real engagement
    • Consistent information – use data and metrics.
  • Employees should have at least two hours per month with reviews from their supervisors.
  • Managers should have at least six hours per month with reviews from their supervisors.

Third Speaker – “Brand As Entertainment”

  • Ryan Kasparian was slated to speak but had a family emergency.
  • Brett Bowden (BB) brought in the director to Visit Fort Worth
  • Visit FTW is an entity that is about attracting events and festivals to Fort Worth
  • T-shirts connect with that.
  • BB “It’s literally someone’s job to make the city look cool. In your hometown who is that?”
  • Your city matters and you can make it better.
  • You have to create the opportunity.
  • BB “Ask – how can we create value? What do you need?”
  • It is up to you to connect the dots. You need to communicate your worth.

Forth Speaker – Sarah Castillo – Taco Heads

  • Sarah Castillo – (SC) “People create relationships.”
  • SC – “When I look at a restaurant I see want to see three things, and in this order: – Customer Service, Environment, Food.”
  • Culture is about onboarding – “This is what we believe in.”
  • BB – “Work sucks. Pick the place to work that sucks the least.”
  • Q – How does Mise en Place and organization help you get out of the weeds when orders stack up? Talk about your process on how to catch up.

Fifth Speaker – Nick Sambrato with Mama Sauce – Selling Your Business

  • Selling the sauce.
  • In 2014 – “I’d rather kill myself than sell part of this company.”
  • Then, I wish I knew how to:
    • Inject value into the business.
    • Your identity is not the company.
    • It is a highly personal decision.
    • Need to operate your business with intentionality.
    • Finding the right partner can be better than a full exit.
  • Nick made the decision to sell the company because he realized that at that point it wouldn’t be worth any more money. He as at the peak. Sold it and started something else.
  • People should read article – “Give away your Legos”
  • In order to grow and scale you must learn to replace yourself.
Nick Sambrato with Mama's Sauce on selling your business at Print Hustlers 2022
Nick Sambrato with Mama’s Sauce

Formula for Selling a Business

  • Annual Owner Compensation + Add Backs + Multiplier + Assets
    • 3x to 5x the annual owner compensation.
  • What helps the sale:
    • Contracts
    • Real Estate
    • Signed Orders
    • Growth trend
    • Doing business by the numbers.
  • Options at the end of the Investment Cycle
    • Expand the existing market
    • Expand into a new market
    • Expand by acquisition
    • Exit – Before beginning a new investment cycle
  • NS “What is important to you?”
  • Types of Buyers
    • Buying a job
    • Acquiring assets, systems, or talent
    • Acquiring a book of business
      • Cash Flow is the easiest way to add Net Value
      • Sometimes cheaper than new customer acquisition cost
  • Tune for the Right Buyer
    • Fine-tune your business for a buyer
    • Make it as simple as a spreadsheet – numbers don’t lie
    • You may already know the prospective buyer
  • A Sellers mindset is a maximum value mindset
    • Interest in what returns value
    • Profitability
    • Your owner compensation is a store of value
    • “What puts money in your pocket?”
  • Biggest takeaway – “The most valuable business to sell is the one worth keeping.”

Sixth Speakers – Shirt Show Panel Discussion

Dylan Gilligan, Tony Estevez, Scott Garnett, and Andy Rudman
Dylan Gilligan, Tony Estevez, Scott Garnett, and Andy Rudman
  • TE – “Firepower is not always the answer; the process is the answer.”
  • Need clear direction
  • Empowerment
  • Practice 5 Why
  • What is expected? “It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.”Jocko Willink
  • Blame the process, not the person.
    • What is downstream or upstream from the problem?
  • Skill = training
  • Does your worker have the will to do it?
  • Message over method.
  • TE – “If they don’t learn and grow, they fire themselves.”
    • Has training circuit for new hires.
    • At each completion, they earn more money
  • Need to make more time – by being effective and prioritizing

Top 5 Print Hacks

  1. Baby Wipes
  2. Food coloring in the platen adhesive – just a little bit.
  3. Magic erasers
  4. App – Found shirts that are out of stock
  5. Discord community
Shirt Show panel discussion at Print Hustlers 2022

Monday 11/7 Tour of Trust Print Shop

Before I jetted home, I stopped for a mid-morning Trust Print Shop tour. Matt Lucas was brave enough to give thirty or forty shop owners access to the shop and snoop around.

I found it to be a very clean and well-run shop. Kudos!

Exterior view of Trust Print Shop
Exterior view of Trust Print Shop. Love the CMYK chips.
Trust Print Shop lobby
Trust Print Shop lobby facing the art department
Screen Racks at Trust Print Shop
Screen Racks at Trust Print Shop
Lean labels make it easier to find stuff
Lean labels make it easier to find stuff…
Staging screens for the next job.
Staging screens for the next job
Print action on a ROQ.
Print action on a ROQ

“Good things happen to those that hustle.” – Chuck Noll

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” – W. Edwards Deming

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

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