The apparel printing shop , one of the oldest businesses in downtown Greendale, is undergoing a business makeover under new ownership.
The shop was primarily a walk-in business for embroidery, screen printing and retail with racks of generic Greendale material. New owner Marty Pierce is foregoing retail for an advanced screen printing business based on speed and technology.
Wear America first opened in 1991 before . Wear America was struggling and in July 2011 Reiman bought the business from John Bachniac. This past May Pierce bought the business from Reiman in hopes that he could save it with his extensive background in printing.
Pierce has 28 years in the printing business, but not on shirts. He has been a printing pressman, instructor and sales person for two of the world’s biggest ink-on-paper printing companies
“I knew the industry working in it,” Pierce said. “I learned the technology by working in it and teaching it. Then I moved into sales and sold it. I had a successful career in selling it.”
As an executive director for Man Roland, Pierce oversaw a team of nine people and managed a $42 million budget. The company was bought out and positions were cut, including his position.
A new career direction
“It became a series of what do I want to do next,” Pierce said. “There’s a lot of positions out there in the print world but I was really tired of traveling a lot.”
Wear America needed help and even though Pierce did not know anything about screen printing he ended up buying the place.
“The principals of ink on paper and the sales side of it I know,” Pierce said. “I’m pretty good with it. Now it’s about applying that outlook onto printing on garments.”
Pierce's new outlook features new direct-to-screen technology, which enables him to work faster and in smaller batches.
Traditional screen printing could take up to three days to create a screen using wood, a heat source and harsh chemicals. Wear America's new technology — Pierce said he's the first printer in Wisconsin to have it — allows him to go direct to screen from an electronic file with no harsh chemicals. A three-day process is reduced to minutes.
With ready art Wear America might even be able to have an entire order done by the next day. It takes the competition five to 10 days, said Pierce.
Smaller runs and less retail
The new technology allows Wear American to supply a small amount of custom apparel at a lower cost, whether it’s for a family reunion or a small organization.
“A lot places won’t dabble in short runs,” Pierce said. “With this new technology we can produce one shirt very economically. We feel that there’s a hole out there in the industry. There’s a void that hasn’t been explored. … I call it somewhat of a silk-screen boutique."
People might also notice there is no longer a strong retail presence. Wear America was not seeing a lot of return from retail, so people can find most Greendale apparel at the or the Panther store at .
Wear America is cultivating relationships with current customers while developing a different client base outside of Greendale with more of a consultation style of service.
After a few months in the Village Center Pierce enjoying all that Greendale has to offer.
"I like it a lot," he said. "I think there’s a sense of community you don’t get from big box stores."