Bullseye Activewear and Promotions is a full-service screen printing/embroidery company with over twenty-five years of experience. With a truly professional background, the team at Bullseye sets themselves apart from others with their knowledge and forward-thinking when it comes to logo wear and promotional products. Located in the Brunswick Industrial Park, Bullseye has just completed a 4,160 square foot expansion in order to offer more services and merchandise as well as to restructure the workflow. Made in Medina County sat down with owner, Jim Heiser, to learn more.
Q: How did you get started in this business, Jim?
A: Actually, I started in high school. I took graphics classes where I was taught offset printing and screen printing. I then attended the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center and completed a two year program in Graphic Communications. I also earned a degree in Graphic Communications Management and Technology from CCC.
Q: Wow! You really have the training to understand how to visually feature a brand! How did you learn the business aspect?
A: My first job out of college was as an estimator for a large Cleveland based offset printer. From there, I moved to customer service, and then project management. I was then promoted to manage the customer service department where I handled scheduling and ultimately became the production manager. I really learned the whole business from the ground up and how to help manage and schedule a 100+ person, 3 shift graphics company.
Q: And how long was it before you launched Bullseye?
A: I felt ready to open my own part time business after about 8 years. I launched in 1992 from my garage/ basement where I set up our first equipment and started promoting our services. I continued working for the offset printing company during the day and then spent evenings and weekends working for Bullseye. In 1998, after close to 15 years, I left my full-time position to put all my efforts into growing Bullseye. I moved the company to Brunswick in 2003 and in 2012 we moved to our current location in the Industrial Park.
Q: Why did you choose Brunswick?
A: This location is ideal for us. Obviously, the accessibility from 71 to Akron, Cleveland, 271, and the Turnpike is awesome. But, more than that, the support for businesses is much more than I ever expected. And we love the Made in Medina County effort – it is really great to put an emphasis on what is made here in our county and the people doing that work.
Q: Always good to hear our companies appreciate the effort! When we think about your business, most people think they understand it. Can you explain what you do and the different challenges you manage?
A: When we talk about the services we offer, we cover just about anything you would put your brand or logo on including single to multi color screen printing, numbered team uniforms, banners, vehicle lettering, trade show giveaways, print services or custom embroidery. It is important to have a consultative approach when working with customers on this kind of work because this is their BRAND. We want to help them choose the best platform and representation of their brand. We welcome customers to tour our facility so they can see the equipment, meet our experienced staff, learn about the processes, and touch the materials. This helps them really get a chance to experience what makes us different and the knowledge we have in our industry.
Q: Obviously you have a strong team behind you. How many people do you have here?
A: We have six full-time, and 3-5 part time employees depending on the workload. Most of our dedicated staff have been with our company for several years. Some of our part time staff are hired through the Medina County Career Center, Cuyahoga Valley Career Center and Polaris. We like to give the opportunity to local students who show an interest in the graphics industry.
Q: It sounds like you would need a strong training program to handle young people. Is that important to you?
A: Very! I know how I got my start and the only way to learn this business in by being in it. I want people to come up through the ranks like I did. It’s why I often have interns from the local schools so that they are able to get that work experience.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you deal with in this business?
A: People don’t understand the legal aspect of this business. Just because you have an idea, you can’t necessarily turn that into your brand or have us start producing it. You have to understand the legal implications of things such as brand use, images and copyright. Quite a few of the startup companies don’t understand these things. We work to help educate customers about trademarks, licensing, etc.
Q: That does sound important! What do you believe is the key to your long-term success?
A: We are planners. We have a strategic plan for upgrading our equipment and keeping our facility running smoothly. We also work with our equipment suppliers to offer continued training to our staff and stay up on trends by reading trade magazines and attending industry trade shows. The market is different on the West Coast, so we work to stay in tuned with what is happening there within our industry and then use that knowledge to help us meet our customers’ needs with new ideas.
Q: What kinds of companies do you target as customers?
A: We work with all kinds of customers including startups, schools, churches and nonprofits. We seem to work with a lot of medium-sized companies with 15-100 employees because they like the services we offer. In these kinds of companies, the owner is often very involved since it is likely they built the business themselves. However, we also have much larger customers such as Sherwin Williams and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Q: What advice would you give our readers when it comes to brand promotion?
A: As with anything you are marketing, think about who your target audience will be. If you are doing a tradeshow, what message do you want them to get? In this case, many of our customers are looking for smaller quantity/higher quality items because they want people to keep the product. With smaller quantities, they figure that if they run out, that simply means they made a good selection on the give-away which helps their brand. If they are looking for logo wear, we recommend they come into the showroom so they can look at the products. Being able to actually feel them, understand how they will wear and how your logo will look is helpful. Legibility is key. People want their logo to be clearly read and identified, so we work closely with companies on their logo formats and artwork.
Q: What’s next for Bullseye?
A: We will continue to be a leading source of screen printing/embroidery by focusing on what our customers require. Client requests have prompted our need to facilitate the creation of online customer stores, I expect that to continue and gain in popularity. With our expansion project finished, we’ve been able to expand our equipment, product and service offerings as well as finish our façade improvements. And of course, we are looking forward to the Made in Medina County Manufacturing Expo on October 4!
For more information on Bullseye Activewear , visit the company’s website.