Sports aren’t always about winning a trophy. There are many things that go into it before the players even get on the field. Small businesses like Lone Star Awards and Graphics create the uniforms, jerseys, t-shirts, hats, and trophies that make game day possible.
Husband and wife Richard and Kippie Hartcraft founded Lone Star Awards and Graphics in 2003 to offer engraving services including trophies and plaques. Little did they know that the business would take off into a full-fledged decorated apparel business offering the latest and greatest in dye sublimation and cut-and-sew technology.
Once their engraving business kicked off, customers from local schools asked if they would get into embroidery and screen printing. Richard and Kippie paid cash for their first laser engraver in the beginning. Now that they had this built-in customer base to expand into a new market, they decided they needed funding.
Beacon Funding helped Lone Star Awards and Graphics grow from one laser engraver to nine pieces of varied decorated apparel equipment including embroidery, screen printing, dye sublimation, digital printers, and gas dryers. The business has over 25 pieces of equipment after the boost financing gave them.
“Beacon has allowed our business to grow at a pretty phenomenal pace since we’ve first opened. It has provided us the ability to get in the equipment that we need to stay at the cutting edge and offer what’s new and up-and-coming in the decorated apparel industry.”
Beacon took a chance on Lone Star, and now they offer the most up-to-date decorated apparel technology. It won’t stop from there.
Lone Star Awards and Graphics Snapshot:
- Decorated apparel business established in 2003 in Nash, TX.
- Offers screen printed and embroidered apparel, custom dye sublimated jerseys, and engraved banners and awards.
- Started as a husband-and-wife trophy and engraving business with one laser engraver.
- Grown to decorated apparel and sports jerseys with 7 employees and 25 pieces of equipment.
- Beacon Funding financed 9 pieces of equipment, including dye sublimation printers, embroidery machines, a digital printer, a gas dryer, a laser engraver, and a screen printing press and dryer.
You have to diversify
Lone Star Awards and Graphics offers screen printed and embroidered apparel, custom dye sublimated jerseys, and engraved banners and awards. They started off with two founders with 1,500 square feet. The business has expanded to seven employees and a 6,000 square ft work space.
The business prides itself on providing a service or product no one else has. Lone Star offers in-house dye sublimation, 3-D puff embroidery, and traditional cut and sew. They are one of five garment decorator businesses in the U.S. that do in-house cut and sew.
“We built our business model on what we liked,” Richard Hartcraft says. “We found out no one was providing that service. It brought customers on board.”
The idea for these advanced decorated apparel services started with Richard and Kippie’s son. He was on a traveling baseball team, so they would see new techniques on the other teams’ uniforms while they watched him play.
Once Lone Star added on each equipment market — screen printing, embroidery, digital printing, dye sublimation — the business kept getting more and more customers.
“You have to diversify,” Richard says. “Having a variety of equipment helps fill in the voids, the ebb and flow of the business’ core.”
Lone Star was able to diversify because of the financing Beacon Funding provided.
“Financing through Beacon has allowed us to enter into some markets that otherwise would have just not been possible from a small family-owned business,” Kippie says.
A no-hassle financing partner
About a decade ago, Richard and Kippie attended the NBM Tradeshow in Dallas in order to see what options were out there. They found a manual screen printing press and dryer they wanted from a dealer at the show. The Beacon rep they met there followed up after the show and sealed the deal. That’s when their Beacon partnership was born.
“The real question is what have we not financed with Beacon Funding over the years?” Kippie says. “We originally started with screen printing equipment and a full start-up package with everything we needed.”
Since that first lease, Lone Star has financed nine pieces of equipment with Beacon, including dye sublimation printers, embroidery machines, a digital printer, a gas dryer, a laser engraver, and a screen printing press and dryer.
For Richard and Kippie, the funding process has become a well-oiled machine because Beacon is familiar with their industry and business needs. Now they just have to send Beacon three months of bank statements to get new equipment.
“We’ve been to the bank,” Richard says. “It’s like applying for a mortgage; it takes forever. If we had waited on getting a loan from a bank, we wouldn’t be the size we are now or have grown as fast. Every time we call up Beacon, it’s just a matter of time; we get the equipment and put it to use.”
Lone Star still has every asset that they’ve financed, including over 16 other pieces of equipment. They want to continue to grow from there.
Small business, big growth
Lone Star Awards and Graphics has been able to make smart business decisions based around their new equipment acquisitions. They’ve saved thousands in utility costs every month by switching from all electric dryers to gas dryers. They also plan to acquire more decorated apparel equipment in the future.
For a small business, Lone Star has been able to expand at a rapid pace, offer advanced decorated apparel technology, and increase their market share due to a trustworthy financing partner.
“We started with nothing,” Richard says. “In 10 years of working with Beacon we’ve had $2.5 million in gross sales.”
Now that’s a home run.
Thank you to Lone Star Awards & Graphics for participating in Beacon Funding's Success Spotlight program. The Success Spotlight program gives Beacon customers and partners a chance to shine with recognition of their equipment financing success. This is achieved through enhanced exposure and free nationwide publicity through Beacon's online channels. To learn more about the program click here.