DART partners with screen printing business

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

DART partners with screen printing businessThe latest news at Desert Area Resources and Training is the new business DART is partnering with — “Inkstaind,” which does screen printing on T-shirts.

Inkstaind is open for business at 216 N. Gold Canyon St. and can be reached at (760) 375-8494, ext. 62.

It all started when Heath Conrad, local businessman, was running Inkstand in town several years ago. Because of rising costs of overhead and other expenses, he put the business into storage.

“He approached us and made us an offer to examine the possibility of doing a collaborative venture to start Instaind again,” said Virginia “Jinny” DeAngelis, CEO of DART. They met and checked out the site at DART’s location on Gold Canyon.

“We applied to the Department of Developmental Services for a new supported employment crew for funding for them. We identified clients we have that would be interested and have the basic capability to learn the skill set,” said DeAngelis.

DART did a market study on the need in the community and Conrad came with some of his past customer contacts and a reputation for excellent work.

So DART and Conrad went into business as partners. The equipment was set up in an underused section of one of DART’s buildings. Conrad trains and pays three clients selected for the full-time jobs and pays a percentage of the profits to DART.

“Now we can offer a new trainable opportunity for our clients,” said DeAngelis. “It’s wonderful! The clients are doing extremely well — they just love it. Currently they have a three-person crew. We have other clients currently working in other jobs that would like to learn this in future.

“The more jobs and the more different kinds of environments we can create, the better for our clients. They like coming to work every day and serving the customers. We now have 18 different work opportunities for adult clients. Many of our clients have been involved in Art on the Edge, so this is a natural extension of the things they’re interested in.”

The machinery involved is a big eight-screen press that can do multiple colors. “They’re looking to expand to do sleeve prints and smaller emblems,” said DeAngelis. “If someone wants printing on the front and back and sleeves, they can do it. They also have a big dryer there to dry the inks.”

DART has been in business in Ridgecrest for more than 51 years. “We’re always looking for new opportunities to expand training for our clients, always looking for something new and different to do.

“This is good for the local economy — not only because we employ clients and people as job coaches, we really supply the community by being an employment center,” said DeAngelis.

“Now we also have merchandise available right here in town for our community. Why send this stuff to L.A. for bulk printing? We’re trying to build an awareness that our product is done locally.”

The clients are learning transferable skills that will help them get jobs in other fields — not only the screening and printing processes, but also customer service, cooperation with co-workers, working with supervisors, taking customers’ orders, working with Conrad to create the designs on the computer and then making the screens to actually print the shirt.

“Heath has a high standard for the work we put out. All shirts have to pass his inspection before they leave here,” she said.

She advised that Instaind keeps its prices competitive with businesses that outsource. “If we keep the business here, in most cases you get a better price. This is an example of smallscale light industry, and it’s here right now.

“It’s really up to community businesses to find these niches. It’s a great partnership. Heath has a great interest in teaching our clients and the shop is open. People can come in and check out what we do.”

Conrad can do as few as three shirts on a screening, and up to any number, in all sizes from small children’s sizes to the largest adult sizes. If you attended November’s Cherokee Community Hog Fry and Pow Wow and noticed the shirts, all the matching shirts worn by staff members were done at Inkstaind.

His motto is “It’s more than just a shirt and you’re more than just a customer.” The shop is open five days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. For details, call or pop in and see Conrad.

Story First Published: 2013-01-16