Embroidery helps merchandising business take off

From humble beginnings, Manchester-based Print Related is growing month by month after owner and former bookbinder Steve Clegg tried an embroidery machine.

Clegg, a former employee of finishing specialist Friedheim International and most recently First 4 Print Finishing, began researching the print-related promotional items market when he faced redundancy in 2012.

He registered the Print Related name and started making calls, but found that without financial support he couldn’t go very far. So it was with the help of his terminally ill father that Clegg started the business from his home in Tameside, according to the local newspaper Tameside Correspondent reported.

Clegg said Printweek: “Vendors would only work on a pro forma basis because it was just me, myself and me with no business history and not much money in the bank.”

He continued: “So I asked dad if I could use his credit card to go and he said yes, I had to do what I had to do. Dad was terminally ill at the time and i had to do something because i was trying to take care of him and mom and my own family and i needed a paycheck.

“I used the card and from there I managed to grow the business until I was finally able to pay myself a salary.

Clegg’s father subsequently deteriorated and died. Clegg framed the credit card and kept it in his office.

“He had helped me so much. The card is a reminder of what he did for me. he said.

Clegg continued to grow the home-based business through 2019, locally outsourcing print sales on a wide range of merchandise, with demand for embroidered work growing alongside, until he decided to bring the latter back to internal.

“I had started doing a lot of outsourced embroidery, but suppliers were letting me down, prices were hit and miss, quality was poor and it just wasn’t what I wanted to offer my customers,” he said. he declares. .

Clegg found a local business offering rental deals on embroidery machines. “I thought, I’m going to have a punt on that,” he said.

“I’m a print finisher by trade, I know the machines. It was a risk but I took the machine and put it in my kitchen and started training. It started with bibs, onesies and personalized products and it just took off in an incredible way,” he added.

Bringing his son on board in late 2019 to work on marketing, the company launched a bulk buy offer on beanies, which quickly evolved into its “Mega Workwear Deal”, which Clegg says has ” exploded”.

“I had to move out of the house as it was becoming an embroidery shop and we had two foster children at the time and I just needed to make some space at the house so I managed to buy and to build a 3x3m workspace in the garden,” he said.

Since then, building a team of family members and people who had lost their jobs due to Covid restrictions, Clegg has grown the business to employ three full-time on-site employees, three part-time remote workers part-time for advertising and up to five part-time employees. embroiderers with shift hours, according to demand.

The team moved into their Haughton Green store last December and Clegg invested in a new high-speed, twin-head embroidery machine to replace two slower machines.

Print Related’s original merchandise work, he explained, now goes hand in hand with embroidery work, with merchants ordering branded goods with their garments.

Additionally, since moving into the store, print orders increasingly include large-format and vehicle-wrapping work, which Clegg outsources to local vendors.

So, after such an uncertain start, where do we go now?

“I’m looking at growth and if there may be a possible acquisition for us to expand the customer base,” Clegg said. “We’re working with tight margins because costs have gone up so much, but we’re attracting a lot of work.”

“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “Our end of the year was last week and now is the time for me to sit down and reflect on where we are, where we want to be and what I need to do to get there.”