As a company we are so proud of how Ryonet got started and welcome you to understand the journey- It’s been more than 11 years now and we think this is an awesome story for all those dreamers, leaders and very hard workers –
As written by Ryan Moor (years ago)- unabridged/unpolished= human
High School Years
My journey into screen printing began in my sophomore year of high school with Mr. Beline in Home economics class at Columbia Adventist Academy in Battle Ground, WA. As a part of the class, we had to explore various careers. We studied wood working, auto body, cooking, and silk screening. Though I thought it would be an ingenious idea to be able to put anything I wanted on a shirt, it took a while for me to first find out what I wanted and then how to cut it out of a laquer stencil with an exacto knife. Needless to say, I’m not very good with my hands so no shirt was made that week. The following year my band “Not Long After” had our first concert coming up and I soon discovered that when you have something that you want to make, you put much more effort into making it! We used a Riley Hopkins press and a BBC flash. I found myself and my band mates coming back to the shop to print shirts even after I graduated. Eventually, the Mr. Beline suggested that the time had come to spread our wings and get our own equipment.
Punk Rock University
With no free use of a Riley Hopkins press and no money we had to get creative and resourceful. Our friends’ band told me about a book called “how to print shirts for fun and profit”; in that book we learned how to build a press out of wood as well as how to expose photo emulsion, making creating designs much easier. We setup shop in my Mom’s kitchen—used the oven as a curing source and starting cooking… er… printing shirts! We made hundreds of shirts, ran into lots of problems, but made many good memories in the process. Brandon (currently on the Ryonet team) and myself would do most of the printing while Chris our drummer would mostly cheer us on (drummers are naturally kind of lazy, ha!), but it took our entire band to expose 1 screen (you can only hold 2 black light fixtures; we needed 6 and had only 1 person to plug them all in). Somehow we got the work done. T-shirts allowed the band to promote our band and make money on tour! It was great to be in any given city and see a girl wearing a Not Long After shirt in the mall! Eventually, other bands started asking us to print shirts. Soon, Cobb (a friend from another band) asked me to show him how to make his own t-shirts as well as sell him the materials/supplies he would need to continue on his own. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the start of something much bigger.
Fundraising and eBay
I thought to myself, if the other band wanted to make t-shirts, there must be more bands that would too. I was up late one night (still living at my parents house) trying to figure out a way for Not Long After to raise money to fund an upcoming tour and our transportation. I took a picture of our crude screen printing press with some supplies then listed it on eBay… it sold! That gave me enough money to buy parts and supplies for a nicer crude press; that one sold too. Time to make more! The real challenge was building them all; I was doing it all by myself. I remember having to drive to Salem, Oregon to catch up with my band after the first show of a west coast tour because I was home building 10 screen printing press kits first. I completed 2 kits, then loaded the remaining 8 into my trunk and left to meet the guys. They thought I was crazy loading those 8 kits into our trailer and van, but I was able to get the rest of the supplies and shipped all the kits from CA. I have no idea how we kept such a high eBay feedback score; I’d sell kits during tours, drain the PayPal account and then scrounge up more money when I got home to build and ship things again. Newbie screen printers were emailing me about where to get more ink and supplies. I would try to refer them to a local company based on their city, but many times there wasn’t a local company. Hmmmm…
A few months later I was in a strange place. Our band was waiting for a new record to come out so we were not touring and I wasn’t getting many odd jobs because it was winter (pressure washing and window washing was in higher demand in spring/summer) and I just started dating a new girl named Amanda. I needed money for rent and, more importantly, to impress this new girl (this same girl would become my wife in years to come)!!! I was still selling kits on eBay, but it wasn’t paying the bills. One night my Dad called and invited me to an internet marking seminar with him. I thought it was a scam, but he told me there would be a free lunch there and since I didn’t have much money, I was in. The company sold websites and showed how to get up on search engines. My first idea was screen printing supplies and kits. It was a big investment to buy the websites and it took my Dad and I several hours to decide to go through with it (after which my Mom wasn’t too thrilled and I think he took the heat for a few days). I remember feeling pretty confident and excited that this idea would work—I told my friends about it and got right to work. The first thing I needed to do was find a website name. When I typed in screen printing into the search engine 2 names showed up: customink.com and ryan screen supply. I thought customink.com was cool, but flipped when I saw that someone else had the idea of selling screen printing supplies online AND they had my name. Fortunately it didn’t get to me and I settled on a name based around the commonly referred to term, silk screening- silkscreeningsupplies.com was purchased that night. I continued to develop my website and continued to list more products and wooden presses on eBay. One day in early April of 2004 I made over $1200 on eBay sales. I couldn’t believe it; that was a week’s worth of window washing! Shortly after silkscreeningsupplies.com went live and we got our first order on the second day.
As more money started consistently coming in from the website and through eBay I needed to hire some help. At this point presses were still being made out of wood, (seriously!) and a converted a barn was being used as a shop/shipping area. In June of 2004 I remember thinking that this could be big and I needed to focus all of my efforts on this project; I knew building a team was the next step. I stopped doing odd jobs—never to wash a window for money again (Amanda has me wash the windows at home, but I actually like doing it J) The first full time employee that I hired was Shawn. I remember having to convince him to come work with me in a barn vs. a job opportunity at Costco. It wasn’t an easy sell, but I snagged him (he’s still here!) Shawn learned how to build presses, pour down ink, ship orders and eventually how to build a website. We continued to expand and sell a little more every month. Eventually ‘Not Long After’ decided to call it quits after a trip to Atlanta where we record a few demo songs. Chris, our drummer, needed a job: then there were three. Shortly after adding Chris to the team, his friend moved from Arizona: then there were four. In 2005 we hired an industry expert to find hook ups with direct manufacturers as we were buying from another wholesaler and big name brands like Ulano and Union had turned me down multiple times. Amanda also started working to help pay the bills, answer phones and invoicing orders. 5 guys and 1 gal in a bedroom, pool room and a barn all with internet cords laying across the yard and packing peanuts stuck in the shrubs… classy!
Moving and Rapid Expansion
Fast forward to later in 2005; we moved to our first real building. Kind of, part of it was constructed out of a house and barn but this place was much bigger and off a main road. Having additional space allowed us to manufacturer our own products and bring in inventory. That year we established relationships with Riley Hopkins and CCI; we also started manufacturing our own squeegees. That summer rented a nearby office space and started teaching classes and shot our first screen printing how-to DVD. By the end of the year we had 17 employees, we grew 2000% over the previous year. In 2006 we hired more staff, new products were brought on board and we looked at expanding into the Midwest. By the end of that year we had doubled in size and had secured a spot in Arkansas to expand our distribution. In June of 2007 we moved our headquarters into a larger industrial space in a more centralized location. The new building gave us space to grow, expand manufacturing, expand classes and be creative. In 2007, we developed our RXP aluminum exposure unit line, we continued to expand our Arkansas operation, we hired more qualified help including a guy who came from our ink manufacturer International Coatings and expanded our video production. By the end of the year we almost had 40 employees in both locations.
2008 and 2009 honestly seemed to mesh together. We continued to grow, working very hard at maintaining our business and fixing problems and issues that are a result of growing extremely fast. We also had several major developments from these years included harnessing the power of YouTube, expanding our classes to California and New York through customer partnerships, adding more great employees and most significantly the development and release of Ryonet’s Silver Press line in early 2009. By the end of the 2009 we had proven that Ryonet was a sustainable business: we had officially done business for 5 years and were continuing to thrive and grow while in the midst of an economic recession.
Fly wheel takes off
By March of 2010 we were lined up to have a record breaking year. Our team continued to get stronger and as we continued to focus on our customers and their needs. We were developing new customer relationships on a daily basis and we found out training classes and customer focus were helping thousands of customers be successful printers who would return for more supplies and equipment! 2010 delivered the most growth in total revenue as well as total knowledge. We learned just as much about what we don’t know and what we needed to learn; this is great because it helps us to continue and grow to best service our customers. During the summer we expanded to a 60,000,000 square foot facility in Arkansas and 12,000 square foot facility in downtown Los Angeles. By the end of 2010 we had been recognized in the Inc. 500/5000 list and exceeded our gross sales goals. Our team expanded to more than 60 employees and we continue to hire high-level talent to expand our skill set and abilities. So far, 2011 has proven to be just as promising and we are moving full speed towards the future.
The first 7 years have seamed to melt together, its was fun, crazy, challenging and rewarding, looking back I am proud to see where we came from and how we got where we are today. The need presented to me in high school ago opened the door to being a part of one of the coolest industries! The screen printing market has enabled us to help other people own their own businesses, facilitate creativity, revolutionize fashion, fund rock shows, clothe athletes and help customers succeed. Between 2004 and 2011 we have helped over 25,000 people learn how to screen print—starting thousands of businesses that are still printing and thriving today.
I don’t know of any other industry where you can help improve the economy, motivate business owners, hang out with rock stars, teach a craft and change lives. It’s changed my life and the team around me. What has enabled us to service this industry unlike anyone else is the unique team we have and culture we continue to build and work within. Looking back on the many who came on in the early years, it’s heart warming to know those people are still with the company and helping us serve our customers every day. Ryonet is: learning, growing, craziness, fun, innovation, and family. We serve to sell and sell to serve. We are passionate and really do have the best group of dedicated, knowledgeable and helpful team in this industry.
A closing message from Ryan– The journey, past to present has been one of growth: from high school, to punk rock, to eBay, to silkscreeningsupplies.com, to Ryonet. Now we are Corporate- www.Ryonet.com , Products- www.screenprinting.com and a site expressly for the team; power behind the print and those that want to Embrace the Craziness www.poweringtheprint.com
Where we came from, where we are, and where we are going has and will continue to be directed by these concepts, find, build, serve. Find, an idea, a need, a market, a product, a customer. Build, a dream, a press, a website, a team, a company, a customer relationship. Serve, the team, the customer it serves, the community it’s in. Along the road the need may change, but we will continue to build our team and company to service it and as a result go anywhere it takes us.