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CLINTON, Iowa – When Dan Sullivan looks over portions of his Adcraft Printwear business here, he points out stacks of boxes and supplies that have been crowded in sections of the building as well as offices with barely enough room to get work done. “We need more room,” said Mr. Sullivan, who along with his brother, Colin, are owners of the longtime family-owned printwear business at 801 S. 3rd St. The business needs the room because it has continued to expand and grow in the past several years, even during the pandemic era, with new customers and expanded offerings. The Clinton business is no longer the little T-shirt shop that started in 1974. It has expanded. It continues to offer screen printing and embroidery on shirts, hats, polos, caps and many other items. The company also offers a massive variety of other products, such as promotional items like cups, water bottles, tumblers, beer steins, coffee mugs and much more. “There’s probably much more to this company than can fit in one news article,” Dan Sullivan said with a laugh. It is that expansion of offerings – combined with more machinery, more employees and more customers – that has the Sullivan brothers looking for more room. “We have been looking at some options. … Would like to expand tomorrow, if we got the space,” Colin Sullivan said. Plans have not been finalized, but the Sullivans brothers seem to agree that one way or another the business will eventually be getting more room. Dan Sullivan recently added that there are plans to remodel the company’s second floor to help with space issues. Surprisingly the business went through a major expansion just a few years ago. In 2015, Adcraft had an 8,500-square-foot building addition constructed. Colin Sullivan said he remembers thinking at the time that the business would have plenty of room for many years to come. Now, just a few years later, it has outgrown that added space, he said. Here are some of the reasons the additional space is needed: New machinery – Adcraft Printwear continues to bring in additional machinery to get work done. For example, the company recently received a new $70,000 eight-head embroidery machine that is now being used in company operations. That machine is in addition to a $500,000 piece of equipment called a Kornit Avalanche HD6 direct-to-garment print machine delivered to the company just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. (During a recent tour of the company, Colin Sullivan remembered a visit from his father, Terry Sullivan, who started the business. Before Terry Sullivan’s death in 2016, he got to visit the company again and look over some of the new equipment. “He was just amazed by all the new technology,” his son said.) More employees – The business currently has about 34 workers and is looking to hire more. “Every department needs more people,” Dan Sullivan said. He added that two of the top qualities the company is looking for in new workers are a “good attitude” and team players. These qualities are vital, he said, because employees may be hired for one department, but called on to help in another department during busy times. “The staff we have now is the best we have ever had,” Dan Sullivan said. Adcraft Web Stores – One of the biggest changes in recent years is the addition of the web stores. Colin Sullivan said www.adcraftwebstores.com was set up in an effort to make the ordering process easier for customers by handling the entire ordering process online. Online ordering has also greatly increased business. “Years ago, we took the time and effort to build our streamlined web store service. It wasn’t easy, but we felt it was necessary to give our customers a superb experience and take out all the hassle of organizing and selling custom merchandise. … We process all orders online, handle all of the production and ship all orders directly to each customer,” according to the company website. Adcraft also offers University of Iowa gear through its Hawkadelic.com website. “Amazon effect” – Another reason for the company’s growth has been what Colin Sullivan calls the “Amazon effect.” That is, many customers want and expect quick delivery of the items they have ordered. And Adcraft has been able to change with the times. “People are surprised at how fast we can turn around. … There have been times I get asked ‘Can you ship 1,000 shirts today?’” Colin Sullivan said. Adcraft is able to make those quick turnarounds because of its people, machinery and it has a big stock of supplies on hand. Dan Sullivan said that on “slow days” the company will ship 100 packages. During the busy season from August through mid December, that number goes up to about 400 packages a day. And while Adcraft has made one-day turnarounds on big and small orders, Dan Sullivan said they usually like to have five to seven business days to get a order done. Temple’s Sporting Goods – Another part of Adcraft’s diverse business can be found at Temple’s Sporting Goods, which has been in business in the Quad Cities since 1928. Temple, which has been a longtime business partner with Adcraft, was bought by the Clinton company several years ago. Adcraft moved Temple’s from Moline to 5171 Competition Drive, Bettendorf, near the TBK Bank Sports Complex. It offers a wide variety of sporting goods, fan gear and custom apparel and uniforms. All the changes and updates to Adcraft over the years come with one goal in mind – making the buying process easier for the customer, said Colin Sullivan. Whether it’s putting logos on 17,000 backpacks, sending 400 shirts to a South Carolina company or putting a local company’s logo on a few dozen shirts, it is all about getting the customers’ job done with quality and speed, he added.
Adcraft at a glanceHere are some facts about Adcraft of Clinton:
- Terry and Barb Sullivan founded the company in Clinton in 1974. The business began in a small T-shirt shop in the Lyons District on the city’s north edge. Dan Sullivan and Colin Sullivan, who bought the company from their parents in 2013, have worked in the business most of their lives.
- Adcraft is more than a printwear business. In addition to shirts, hats, jerseys and other sports and business items, the company also offers many promotional items such as cups, water bottles, tumblers, beer steins, mugs, ice scrapers and many other items.
- Adcraft owns Temple’s Sporting Goods, which is now located at 5171 Competition Drive, Bettendorf, near the TBK Bank Sports Complex.
- The company’s “busy season” is August through Dec. 15, said Dan Sullivan.
- The company specializes in screen printing and embroidery. Screen printing is a process where ink is transferred through a screen onto a product. Embroidery is the process where the design is stitched with thread directly into the garment.