FORT JENNINGS — After 26 years in business, Fusion Graphics owner Ed Schimmoeller still finds enjoyment when he sees people wearing T-shirts that he designed and printed.
“When I walk into a sporting event and see a whole section of people wearing my shirt, I really get a kick out of that,” Schimmoeller said.
At Fusion Graphics LLC, Schimmoeller and his four-person staff provides screen printing and embroidery to customers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. He said they specialize in T-shirt and jacket design, though they also do some work with glass etching.
“We do a little bit of everything,” said Schimmoeller, who runs the business out of his home on state Route 190 in Fort Jennings.
For Schimmoeller, designing T-shirts started out as a hobby. When his former employer started cutting positions to save money, he decided it was the right time to turn his hobby into a career.
“I thought, ‘I could do this, this might be fun,’” he said.
He invested around $4,000 in a six-color printing press, and decided to operate out of his home to save money. As word spread, he said one job a month turned into a job a week. Soon, he was churning out jackets and T-shirts on a daily basis.
At first, Schimmoeller and his wife, Deb, ran the business by themselves. He said they would work around the clock in order to get the business off the ground.
“For an entire summer, we would start around 8 a.m., and we wouldn’t stop until 1 or 2 a.m.,” he said. “The only time we’d take a break is when we went to church on Saturdays.”
That fall, when his wife returned to her job as a schoolteacher, Schimmoeller hired an employee to help keep up with the increasing demand for his T-shirts. He said it took about two days before they realized they needed another person to handle the workload. The two people he hired, Sonia Stoner and Sarah Prine, are still there today. He also employs two part-time workers.
As his staff has grown, so has his clientele. Along with serving Putnam County and other northwest Ohio areas, the business extends to Columbus, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Michigan. Schimmoeller said what has allowed Fusion Graphics to expand regionally is the fact that they provide glitter and holographic products. He said local cheerleaders call them the “glitter capital of northwest Ohio.”
“That’s our specialty field that sets us apart from everybody else,” he said. “Other companies can’t or won’t do it because it’s time consuming and there’s a lot more work behind it.”
Schimmoeller said drawing the design alone can take anywhere from four to 20 hours. He said he and his employees can spend three or four days on one batch of glitter pieces. Despite the extra time and effort it takes to design glitter shirts, Schimmoeller said it’s important to give customers what they want.
“The demand is definitely there,” he said.
Though the screen printing business isn’t as glamorous as one might think — Schimmoeller calls it “hot and dirty assembly-line work” — seeing the results of his hard work makes it all worth it.
“I can’t say I’ve ever had a day where I have not wanted to come in here to work,” he said. “When someone says, ‘I really like this design,’ it makes you feel good. You get that gratification as a result of your work.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima