Making an impression
Local entrepreneur puts mark on screen printing industry
By Shane Cleveland
Ryan Moor first realized his idea for a screen printing supply company could become a reality during a seminar learning how to run an online business. With some work, he figured the business could produce revenue of $30,000 each month. His company, Ryonet Corp., exceeded that mark in its second month. In 2005, the company’s first full year, Ryonet Corp. produced more than $4 million in revenue.
Starting from scratch
About four years ago, in need of money, Moor put together screen printing supplies collected from a local retailer and built a wood press to sell on eBay as a screen printing kit. Moor turned a profit and repeated the process. Eventually, his eBay customers began asking how to get more supplies. Not seeing many sources on the internet to refer others to, Moor realized there was an opportunity. After attending a seminar and workshop hosted by StoresOnline, Moor purchased a package and began operating silkscreeningsupplies.com in April 2004.
Moor began operating the business from his home. He tried contacting manufacturers of screen printing supplies, but they didn’t want to work with him because the business was new or they already had dealers in the area.
Instead, Moor worked through Portland supplier Denco Sales, where he was able to arrange some reasonable pricing. The Web site started with 30 to 40 products and some packages, which gradually grew in volume and price. By July 2004, Moor added his first employee.
By early 2005, Ryonet Corp. had grown to the point it could eliminate the middleman and begin working directly with manufacturers. Since that time, the company has grown from about five employees to 19. Additionally, in April 2005 the company moved into an 8,500-square-foot location in Vancouver. The space houses the company’s offices, inventory, shipping and manufacturing operations. The company makes its own line of squeegees and exposure units.
According to Screen Printing magazine editor Tom Frecska, screen printing can be one part of a company’s manufacturing process or the sole purpose of a small business. And though the industry is large, Ryonet Corp. has had success in an arena that Frecska said has become difficult to survive in, particularly as a young start-up.
“A lot of consolidation has taken place in the last decade,” said Frecska.
He said there are not many independent suppliers left, with many manufacturers moving to direct sales or working with large general distributors. And while many suppliers have a Web presence, a majority of the business is being done offline.
Moor said the company’s ability to take advantage of online marketing tools has contributed to the growth it has experienced.
“The internet has been the driving force behind any success that we have had,” Moor said.
Advertising: spend more to make more
Moor said each individual visiting the company’s site on a given day spends an average of $3. And Ryonet Corp. was bidding only 10 cents for search engine pay-per-click ads to drive potential customers to the site. Eventually Moor learned the company could spend more on advertising to increase traffic to the site considering the price of the average transaction.
The company is also trying to increase its free, generic listings on the primary search engines Google and Yahoo. While the company’s site is listed highly on Yahoo, Moor said it is difficult to maintain a top generic listing on Google. Ryonet Corp. is currently changing the structure of its Web site to improve its Google placement.
Ryonet Corp. still sells on eBay, with about five percent of the company’s sales coming from the online marketplace.
The company is also working on advanced forms of online advertising “that some people have not touched or may not know about,” said Moor. However, he is playing those cards close to the vest. Moor said being young and new to screen printing allowed him to approach the industry, which is hundreds of years old, differently. But his inexperience also made him naïve, he said, and the company readily shared some information they probably shouldn’t have to others in the industry.
Good business: Bolstering customer’s companies
Though Moor realizes the level of growth over the past two years cannot be sustained, the company is taking steps to continue to build its market share, including retaining existing business.
“As long as (our customers) continue to grow their business they will always need more supplies,” he said.
Ryonet Corp. also launched a second, complementary Web site, shirtspace.com, offering wholesale printable apparel for silk screening.
The company also expects to grow the business regionally, the old-fashioned way. Ryonet Corp. hired a sales representative three months ago to capture business in Oregon and Washington. Idaho and northern California may follow.
Sales stayed consistent during the traditionally slow months of October through December, and the company started the year off right with its biggest month ever in January.
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