Blog, Marketing

Threadx19 Recap


My travels to Threadx19 by Erik J. Mickelson

Threadx19 was held this year at the Kona Kai resort in San Diego, CA February 17th -19th.


I arrived at Threadx19 on Sunday night and we had a laid back meet and greet in one of the conference rooms with an open bar and of course Jenga. The room was filled with at least 60-75 screen printers and embroiders from all over the country. The furthest attendee was Jerry and Maria Mayotte from Red Brick Clothing in New Hampshire. I had an opportunity to chat with Eric Solomon and his wife from Night Owl Printing. I decided to call it an early night because I was feeling a little under the weather and wanted to get a good nights sleep for the next day’s presentations.

Jerry Mayotte of Red Blick Clothing and Erik Mickelson of Northwest Custom Apaprel

Jerry Mayotte and Erik Mickelson getting “pumped” for the 2nd day of threadx19

Day 2

I woke up bright and early at 5:30 am with excitement and smiles. Today was going to be a jammed packed day of great speakers and presentations. I showered and headed over to the breakfast buffet at 7:30 am and grabbed myself some eggs, sausage, fruit, potatoes and a bunch of coffee. (I was already pumped up and really didn’t need the extra 5 cups of coffee). I chatted with a contract printer out of Chicago (near Wrigley Field). His first name was George and I forgot his company’s name. George owned a contract screen print company with over 150 employees. He told me he just finished a print job of 45,000 t-shirts with 4 locations, plus tagging and bagging. It was interesting to listen to him talk about how tight the profit margins were in contract printing. He mentioned he checks the P&L on a daily basis, just to make sure the factory is running efficiently. I could only imagine what the payroll is for 150 employees.. YIKES! After chatting with George, the first speaker started and I got to sit in the front row.

The first presentation was, a custom product printing company out of California. It was interesting to listen how the company can produce 1 unit efficiently without any setup fees. If you want 1 custom iphone case, they can print it. They really don’t compete with Amazon because they are all selling custom products. The product isn’t even created yet, until the customer creates it themself.

Olympus Group

The CEO of the Olympus group spoke about Human Resource and keeping employees engaged. One suggestion I loved, was the “Ask Brian” box which was a employee suggestion box. Every payroll they would pull out a suggestion and give out $40.00 to the employee. Basically, the more suggestions you put in the box, the better chance you will have to win $40.00. Olympus has

a top 10 list to keep employees engaged

Olympus Top 10 List

  1. Create a noble mission statement
  2. Culture Deck-NetFlix
  3. Hey Brian Program
  4. One year employee one-on-ones
  5. New employee orientation on the 1st day
  6. Monday morning huddles
  7. Personal goals
  8. Result presentations
  9. Profit is NOT a dirty word
  10. Make it personal-give away the house.

Aaron Draplin

Aaron Draplin is a pretty cool graphic artist out of Portland, Oregon. He creates clean minimalistic logos for companies and events. What I enjoyed was Aaron’s passion and excitement for graphic arts. It inspired me to look closer at logos and get the feel of the artists emotion they had when creating the logo.  Aaron created a really cool book with all his artwork. (I am going to buy it on Amazon today).  I thought it was funny that Aaron doesn’t use an alarm look to wake up. He uses the Universe to wake him up.  He had a table setup with his merch such as stickers, patches and his books. One cool piece of artwork was his Space Shuttle design.


If you are a printer or embroider and want to increase your knowledge and excitement, I would definitely recommend attending the 2020 Threadx in Phoenix, Arizona. The best thing is you get to network and bounce ideas off others in the industry.

Erik Mickelson

Northwest Custom Apparel.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!