A custom T-shirt company continually adapts to keep their customers covered
For four-plus decades, Silver Screen Design—a custom T-shirt and branded apparel company located in the Franklin County CDC’s Venture Center—has thrived by providing full-service to customers while remaining small and nimble enough to navigate a complex and constantly evolving industry.
The family-owned company started as part of the Renaissance Community in 1975. Cheryl Termo, who started as an artist at the company, and David Senior in 1984 bought it. Cheryl is now Owner and President. Silver Screen Design moved into a 15,000-square-foot space in the Venture Center in 1993; the small-to-mid-size printer is a wonderful anchor tenant for the Franklin County CDC, employing 17 to 20 people year-round.
“We’re really happy to be part of the Franklin County CDC,” said Cheryl. “I mean, that means something to us. And the people there we’ve reached out to many times have provided us with really solid and helpful educational information, legal advice, where to go for various things. They’re a great resource. We like being on their roster of growing small businesses.”
Starting out producing posters and T-shirts, the company shifted in the 1980s and ‘90s, selling shirts for the retail market printed with licensed images—readers of a certain age will remember Mary Engelbreit and Sandra Boynton illustrations, Seinfield and Jack Handy images.
The company parlayed that into serving colleges and universities. Cheryl and her employees got to know student club leaders and provided package deals of T-shirts with posters and other promotional materials, making it easy for their events to succeed.
“We worked for colleges all over the country because this was kind of an innovative approach,” Cheryl said.
Throughout the 2000s they built this base, and it laid the groundwork for a shift in 2017. Silver Screen Design started setting up pop-up virtual stores for its customers. Now colleges could point parents and alumni to a website, operated by Silver Screen Design that would sell college-themed swag made by the company. They were suddenly an apparel company and a technology company.
“That has been great for our business,” said Ivan Benjamin, Sales Manager. “And it continues to expand. The way it is in our market, because it’s so saturated, you have something good for a while and then it goes away and you have to find something else. And that’s what we’ve done with this next step to serving our customers.”
Ivan described Silver Screen Design as a boutique printer. “We can do anything from one shirt to 10,000, and that’s not easy to do,” he said. “We have developed more of the capabilities and the efficiency to make that work better over time.”
Recently they added custom embroidery to the services they provide, as well as pop-up shops as fundraisers for nonprofits and PTOs. “There are the schools and clubs that want everybody in their organization to have the same merch and they want to raise money at the same time. So we do a pop-up store, they mark up the costs a little bit, and they make money.”
They also run online merch stores for customers as varied as YouTube streamers, vloggers, and big car dealerships.
“We do it all for them, and then they get a check at the end. So it’s quite the level of service. It’s very service oriented,” Ivan said.
Serving customers well is something that Silver Screen Design is passionate about.
“We’ve been doing this for a very long time,” said Cheryl, “and that makes a big difference in terms of how we service the needs of our customers. We just understand customer needs really well, and that allows us to respond in certain efficient ways to manage their projects in ways that makes it look like what we’re doing is easy, when it’s not.”
Need custom T-shirts or other branded materials? Want a pop-up shop for a fundraiser you’re planning? Reach out to the folks at Silver Screen Design!