Sports championships boost Lakeville T-shirt business
By BETH DAVID, Standard-Times correspondent
LAKEVILLE -- What is more exciting than having two hometown teams win championships, back to back to back?
For local apparel screen-printer Ossie Magalhaes, it's watching one of the players swing your handiwork around on national television.
"David Ortiz was waving one in front of the camera. We take a lot of pride in that," said Mr. Magalhaes, owner of Better Image Apparel in Lakeville. "The employees got really excited."
He was talking about last year's victory parade after the Red Sox won the World Series. Everybody at the Acushnet resident's company was working overtime making T-shirts after the win.
And now the New England Patriots Super Bowl XXXIX victory is giving the family-owned business a welcome replay. Only this time, there will be T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, polos and jackets.
The dual design will include David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Tedy Bruschi of the Patriots. They have been officially dubbed "Homeland Champions, Hometown Heroes." The T-shirts depict both men in their uniforms, complete with league emblems and signatures.
"We felt that the personality and the fan base of these two athletes were similar. Both belong to the same community," said Richard Moore of Encore Inc., which awarded the contract to Better Image. "It's not just football and baseball. It transcends beyond that."
Mr. Moore said area fans have a lot to celebrate, and it should not be limited to one team. "It's a history-making thing. Time will show that this is a very rare time in sports," Mr. Moore said. "The world has been looking at this community for pretty much a year. There's been lots of exposure. Lots of positive things."
The Tampa, Fla., company has developed a business model that uses companies within the local market to print products so that local people benefit. Encore first had a business relationship with Middleboro clothing distributor NES. So Mr. Moore asked for referrals when the Red Sox started winning games last year. NES suggested Better Image, and the rest is history.
"They're a small company and their service has been perfect," Mr. Moore said. "We start with a referral and then build a relationship."
And that suits Mr. Magalhaes just fine. Five years ago, he bought the company he was running and moved it from Norwood to Lakeville, cutting his commute from Acushnet considerably.
Better Image employs 12 to 15 full-time employees in the summer, but only eight in winter because the demand for screen printing decreases in the colder months. So the Patriots' midwinter win has delivered a much-needed seasonal boost. It will result in a first run of 10,000 to 20,000 pieces this week, and more as demand dictates. Mr. Magalhaes said he can produce up to 4,000 T-shirts per shift.
"We started at midnight on Sunday and went 24 hours, then 18 hours," Mr. Magalhaes said. "We're going pretty much two shifts right now."
His employees are not complaining. They are thankful for the extra work; his business has had its ups and downs. A few years ago, they did a 76,000-piece order for Reebok in 36 hours.
"We've done this before," he said. As for the hometown team being hometown heroes, Mr. Magalhaes says they only have to win to satisfy his family. "We're a Patriots house," he said. "I'm a Patriots season-ticket holder and I love it. I don't care if I print the garment, just as long as they keep winning. I don't care if I make a dime."
But it sure can't hurt. The T-shirt design can be viewed at www.ChampionShirts.com
This story appeared on Page A1 of The Standard-Times on February 11, 2005.