In our first edition of Tier One T-Shirt Club Business Spotlight, I’d like to introduce Aaron Mills of Moshannon Valley Vinyl. During the course of the interview, we’ll learn what inspired him to take his destiny into his own hands and open his own heat transfer vinyl business. Also, we’ll discover what values he holds dear, challenges he faces, and his driving force behind it all. And without further adieu, let’s get started.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - How did the idea for your business come about?
I’ve always loved the idea of being able to make something others would love. Graphic design has always been a part of my full time job, no matter what position I’m in. Currently, I am a Senior Product Engineer and also supervise our company’s art department. I’ve been fortunate to never lose touch with that skill set, even in my full time jobs. In 2014, a local shirt business was not responding to my emails. I thought, ya know, I can do this myself if I had some equipment. The rest is history...
T-Shirt Wholesaler - How did you come up with the name of your business? When did you open your doors?
Moshannon Valley Vinyl. It is a spin off of our school district and the name of the area that we live in . I wanted to think of something that would tie in the community, school, and the people in the area. In July of 2014.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - Can you describe your business? Location, Size, Number of Employees?
We are located in Central Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes from Penn State University. Our business is myself and wife. She does a lot of the weeding and heat pressing. Occasionally, our kids ask to help weed the vinyl. It’s usually only when they want something though!
T-Shirt Wholesaler - What motivates you?
Quality and returning customers. I love being able to please people and when you have that returning customer again and again, it brings a sense of accomplishment.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - Can you describe your typical customer?
Usually people are uneducated at all the different types of shirt decoration available. The bulk of our customers think that there's only screen printing, which I don’t do. So, I have to explain what heat transfer vinyl is and why the process can’t provide full color gradients. Probably 99% of the time, the customer goes with me and are extremely pleased with the finished product(s).
T-Shirt Wholesaler - What kind of culture exists in your organization and how did you establish it?
I’m a hard working individual, as this is a side business for me. On most occasions, I come home from work, eat dinner with my family, and head out to the office to work. It’s something that I hope my kids notice as they grow up and carry on that same type of work ethic.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - What have your biggest challenges been and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge (for me) is just convincing a customer the method I use to decorate shirts is all about the quality. I’m not a big fan of screen printing, so to convince someone that the product that you make will be better, can be a challenge. So far, 100% of the time, the customer loves the end product.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - What sets your business apart from the competition?
We’re a small, family run business. So, the relationship with the customer is very personal and intimate. We don’t have some website, where you order a shirt and never hear from anyone. Everything is run from Facebook. Every order is personal, unique, and custom.
T-Shirt Wholesaler - How do you define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression? Something else?
Personally, it’s a little bit of everything. Mainly though, it’s all about that repeat customer that loves what you do for them, and keeps coming back. That feels like success to me.
We’d like to take this time to thank Aaron for participating! The next time you’re in need of a high quality heat transfer vinyl service, be sure to keep Moshannon Valley Vinyl in mind. You can reach out to them or stay up to date with the company’s latest news via Facebook or Instagram channels.