It’s official: Dallas Print Factory has now been open for a full year! As a custom print shop in Dallas, we’ve fired high-powered lasers at tumblers and screen printed thousands of custom shirts and masks. We’re no strangers to helping local and national brands with one-of-a-kind promo items, and we even take one-off passion projects very seriously.
This first year has been full of opportunities to learn and grow, and believe us, we’ve done both, and we’ve done a lot of it. So, just like our custom creations we print every single day, we’re laying out some hard-earned insights — and celebrating a little bit — right here in word form.
What does it mean for us to be celebrating our first full year?
From renovating our space to giving it that proper Design District vibe to actually installing our press, nothing was going to go wrong this first year. Or so we thought.
We kicked the year off strong with one goal in mind: print with personality. (See the tagline.) There was something we felt missing from the print industry, and we wanted to step up to the press, print our way through it, and sling ink no matter what it took.
OK, that might’ve gotten a little too poetic, but we really wanted to do something special in this industry, and we felt like we had the team to do exactly that.
Here’s the CEO of Dallas Print Factory Thomas McShane to back it up.
“There’s not really any business that has curated a quality list of promotional items that people actually want to receive,” McShane said. “We wanted to be that resource where not only are you able to get better quality promotional items, but you’re also able to get better quality decoration, as well as a better process.”
Today, having that focus on a curated list of promotional items is mission critical. After all, if anyone had global pandemic on their bingo card for 2020, then kudos. But if you didn’t, then this year was full of challenges. Everyone had to stay on their toes (and still do), and we weren’t immune to this, either.
“Especially now,” McShane began, “you see the industry pivot to a place that they’ve never been before: PPE. That’s something that was never in the promo world before. Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer — it was kind of there, but we’ve never looked at it before like this. It’s certainly been a really interesting pivot for us the past three or four months.”
Our Promotions Director Jennifer Lopez mentioned this same pivot as an important turning point in our first year.
“We saw a lot of activity from surrounding businesses that were also in the Design District,” she said. “They’d see our sign and come in, whereas now, they can’t just do that. I think that when we jumped on printing the masks, bandanas, floor stickers, and social distancing signage, everything kind of took off in a way we didn’t expect.”
We’re happy to be celebrating its one-year anniversary, but though the team was able to reach this milestone by staying flexible, we never changed priorities from day one.
“No matter what during these times, it’s always about the customer, and it’s always about our team,” McShane said. “As long as we keep those two things in mind first, we won’t lose sight of what’s important.”
What makes us different from other print shops?
It didn’t take us a full year to figure out what made us a little different in this industry, but these last months have really showcased it. McShane believes it’s the attention to detail and quality that is the proving ground of DPF’s success, but there’s also a bit more to it than that.
“It’s the team’s attitude to be problem solvers, Jennifer Lopez’s attention to detail, and the quality of products that she selects,” he said. “If you’re ever looking for a promo item, we’re probably not going to be the cheapest, because that’s not what we want to do. We want to provide a solution that represents both your brand and our brand correctly. And that really comes in the form of high-quality, finished products.”
So, after a full year of searching high and low through thousands of products, what was the main takeaway that Jennifer Lopez had when it comes to quality?
“When I try to find products for companies, I always think of things that I’d personally continue to use and not just throw away the moment a conference is over,” she said. “It does take a little bit more time and research on my end, but once they actually receive the product, it leaves a better impression and a better representation of their own brand.”
Well said. Because no matter what, at the end of the day, we don’t just want our clients to be happy, we want our team to feel confident standing behind their product and their work.
“Not only do we have fantastic relationships with our vendors who are providing those blank materials, we also have a great team in-house that’s able to then decorate that product and stand by its quality,” McShane said.
“The team members who are answering your calls are the ones who are working on the orders,” he continued. “If someone calls inquiring about their order, we’re able to tell them that they just shipped out or should be shipped out in a few days because the team members answering those phones are the ones doing the printing and the packing.”
What we’ve learned in year one.
Calling it a one-year anniversary may not do this milestone justice. We’ve been in business for 365 days and counting. (Big focus on the “and counting” part.) Even though we learned something new every single day, here are some of the highlights we’ve picked up along the way.
“Listen to feedback in any form,” McShane said. “We’ve learned a lot from our customers, and of course good reviews are awesome to see, but it’s important to pay attention to repeat customers. That means they’re proud of the work, and this relationship becomes more of a partnership than just a transaction.”
So, pay attention to the good and bad? Check. But what about products?
“From doing extensive research on products to recommending items we’ve physically and personally used, we’ve done everything we can to protect our customers on the front end and make sure that what they’re getting is something that we ourselves take pride in,” he said. “It all goes back to standing behind what we do. If we put the work in to make sure we’re working with the best items for our client’s brand, then we’re going to see them again.”
For mostly everyone, year two looks very similar to the first one. Of course, we want to keep growing our capabilities, growing our team, and bringing in the right products. But all of this starts with the right foundation from day one until you have 365 of them under your belt. And hopefully many more.
For Thomas McShane, there’s a lot that would make the “what’s next” list, but it mainly comes down to focusing on the same thing that got them here to begin with: quality.
“What we’ve accomplished this year is just a testament to the team that we have and the quality of work that they produce and the time they’re able to produce that in. If we didn’t have those individuals still going to the shop, none of that would’ve been possible. We’ve been able to learn how to be more efficient, which has been incredibly beneficial.
As for Jennifer Lopez, what’s next could be a tricky question, but it’s not anything she’s going to back down from.
“Just because we show certain products on our website doesn’t mean that’s all we can do,” she said. “If someone needs something, we can provide that solution. There’s not a single day that we go in and do the same thing over again. We do a different job every single day because that is what’s going to help our customers.”