Passing through Schenectady? Visit DCP

Meet Ben Sadler, owner of Downtown Custom Printwear.  Downtown Custom Printwear (“DCP”) provides exactly the kind of service that its name indicates.  DCP specializes in the creation of custom screen-printed and embroidered products manufactured in the company’s downtown Schenectady, New York location.

Ben graduated from Union College in the Spring of 2007 with no real plan for what to do next.  “I graduated and was sort of lost not knowing what I wanted to do with my future.”

He decided to stay in Schenectady.  “I made the decision to rent a house with my friend and drive an ice cream truck around for a summer.”  He was feeling very discouraged.  “Many of my friends seemed to have big important jobs already, investment banking in New York, that kind of thing.”

One thing Ben did know was that he wanted to be his own boss.  “I always knew I wanted to own my own business.”

While studying at Union, Ben and a friend began their own import/export printwear business.  The business ultimately failed, but it provided Ben his first exposure to printing.  Ben attributes the import/export venture’s failure to the business plan itself – specifically the export of the clothing for printing.

“The whole reason I started learning how to print myself was that the problem with the import/export venture was having the printing done overseas.  The overseas printing was the real problem with the business.”

Ben determined that success in the printwear business would require learning how to print himself.  In the summer of 2007, Ben purchased printing equipment on e-Bay.  When he wasn’t operating the ice cream truck, he was printing on his own in the attic of his apartment.  Just a few months later, Ben was filling t-shirt orders for local businesses and other organizations.

As Ben describes, his printwear business “just sort of snowballed.”

DCP’s clientele is varied.  “A lot of our bigger customers are yearly charity events where they’ll order thousands of thousands of shirts.  We do a lot of work with colleges, student organizations, athletic teams, some retail stuff, and clothing lines.”

Reinvestment in the company has helped DCP expand rapidly.  “I own all of my equipment,” Ben explains.  “I have put all of my money back into the business.”  DCP’s current printing equipment is a significant upgrade from Ben’s initial e-Bay purchases and the company has added embroidery machines to its arsenal.

Only one year into operations, the company moved from Ben’s attic apartment to a location on Erie Boulevard in downtown Schenectady.  In the Spring of 2010, Ben realized his business operations required more space.  The company expanded once again, occupying a second floor at the Erie Boulevard location.  DCP now occupies a space more than five times the size of the attic where it was born.

Ben currently shares DCP’s operating space with four employees and Cassius, DCP’s resident canine.  This is actually the smallest staff for DCP in some time, Ben explains, because DCP’s work is seasonal and big orders don’t tend to come in during the winter.

Ben admits that owning his own business is not EXACTLY as he had imagined.

“I always thought that when you own a business you get to kick back and only work when you feel like it and live the life.  First of all, I can’t do that because things will fall apart.  Second, when you’ve created something all by yourself you want to commit to it.  I didn’t think it would be this hard, but I also didn’t realize how important it would be.”

Ultimately, it is Ben’s passion for printing that keeps him going.  ““This is my entire life.  I’m definitely into it.  I’m striving to be a master of this trade.”

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet


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