Sterling Heights, Michigan (Oct. 24, 2017) – This year, STAHLS’, a Michigan-based company, celebrates its 85th anniversary. Started in 1932 as a small family-run lettering and imprint business in Detroit, the company has grown into the leading global manufacturer, distributor and direct supplier of garment decoration equipment, materials, transfer technology and decorated apparel – all while remaining rooted in family values.
“My grandfather founded STAHLS’ in the early 1930s. Since then, four generations of the Stahl family have supported the company’s growth, developing new products, protecting our intellectual property and helping the company evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the textile industry.
Today, our all-star team continues our legacy of innovation,” said Ted Stahl, executive chairman of STAHLS’. “We’ve always lived by the philosophy that our employees and customers are an extended part of the Stahl family. Their loyalty and support is what has provided our company the means to grow and expand our services around the world.”
When STAHLS’ was founded in the 1930s, demand for names and numbers on the back of professional sports jerseys began garnering popularity as a way for fans and officials to more easily identify players out on the field. At the time, the numbers and letters were tediously cut by hand, until A.C.
Stahl, Ted Stahl’s grandfather, developed a new process of cutting the fabric using a foot-operated die and punch press. That press, once operated from A.C.’s garage in Detroit, is now proudly displayed at STAHLS’ global headquarters in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
In recent years, STAHLS’ has emerged as a licensee and supplier to the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA, as well as mega brands like Adidas, Bauer, Champion and many well-known retailers. However, the company may be best known in the textile industry as a pioneer of innovation and guiding force behind spirited entrepreneurs looking to build or expand their own businesses through personalization and other garment decoration.
STAHLS’ equipment and material technologies provide these small business customers the ability to brand virtually any item from team uniforms, jerseys and performance wear to accessories and sporting goods. From the big leagues to little league, STAHLS’ product quality, forward thinking and unique approach to customer service has helped it to stand above its competition over many decades.
“Ted helped to create a legacy of innovation for STAHLS’ by designing new products before our customers even knew they needed them,” said Chris Lawson, CEO of STAHLS’. “Today, to maintain our position as an industry innovator, we’re focused on emerging technology that meets government and customer standards, and our ability to produce products fast and efficiently.”
Each decade, STAHLS has introduced innovations that have changed the game in its industry, such as the company’s Hotronix® heat press, which revolutionized heat printing with precision digital time, temperature and pressure, becoming the number one selling brand in the world.
This same technology is used at the NFL Draft to personalize jerseys behind-the-scenes in the short time it takes for a team to announce its pick to the moment the player walks across the stage to meet the commissioner. Today, the company continues to expand its product lines to meet the evolving needs of the apparel market, particularly when it comes to on-demand customization and the growing athleisure and performance wear market.
In addition to expanding its distribution and warehouse facilities in the coming months, new technologies continue to emerge from STAHLS’. The company plans to introduce several new proprietary products, including a new ink formula that blocks dye migration and the addition of advanced technology to its existing heat presses, later this year.
As the company charts its next play in the personalization and garment decoration industry, its leaders are looking back on the company’s greatest successes, memorable moments and challenges overcome to maintain its position as an industry all-star. Since the beginning in A.C.’s garage, the company has continued to introduce products that forever changed the industry:
• 1930s: The world’s first die-cut letters, eliminating the need for hand-cutting letters and numbers for sports jerseys and improving productivity.
• 1950s: The first thermo-plastic adhesive, allowing garment decorators the ability to seal letters to garments before sewing.
• 1970s: Explosion in popularity for the t-shirt market and personalization. The introduction of STAHLS’ patented Thermo-FILM®, the first “green” lettering and numbering material; it remains a top-selling material of choice.
• 1980s: The first water-jet custom cutting technology, as well as CAD-CUT technology, which allowed customers to custom-cut heat transfer materials on demand. Most significantly, in the 1980s, STAHLS’ introduced the Hotronix Swinger – the first heat press in the world to eliminate cold spots, as well as control time, temperature and pressure with digital precision. STAHLS’ Hotronix is today the world’s largest manufacturer of heat presses in the world.
• 1990s: STAHLS’ secured significant licensing deals with the NHL and NBA following success with the MLB in the decade prior. These relationships continue today.
• 2000s: In the new millennium, STAHLS’ secured new major licenses – this time with the NFL, and introduced CAD-PRINTZ® Digital Transfers, which allowed highly detailed, full color transfers for heat application on any fabric or item.
• The company also introduced the first Hotronix auto-opening manual clam press, which opens automatically at the end of its pressing cycle. This revolutionary improvement made it possible for the heat press operator to walk away after starting the press without fear of ruining a shirt.
• 2010s: STAHLS’ introduced the first lab certified materials for safety, durability and performance, as well as the Hotronix Fusion Heat Press, Air Fusion and Dual Air Fusion, along with several heat press accessories.
“As our business continues a fast-paced trajectory of growth and expansion into new markets around the world, it is the support, loyalty and determination of our team that will help spell success for decades to come,” said Stahl.
STAHLS’ is the leading global manufacturer, distributor and direct supplier of garment decoration equipment, materials, transfer technology and decorated apparel. STAHLS’ innovations allow its customers – from small businesses and entrepreneurs to pro sports leagues and high profile brands – to brand virtually any uniform, t-shirt, accessory and sporting good. Headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan, STAHLS’ operates strategically positioned manufacturing and distribution centers throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit groupestahl.com.