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Grocott Ink & Thread - Stitching Success in A Family Business

“No, this is not a tattoo parlor,” laughs Lori Grocott as she recalls stories of acquaintances wondering what her business entails.
Southeastern South Dakotans may recognize the business as formerly “American Sports,” but owners Lori and Lynn Grocott decided to change the business’s name last year to hone in on their true niche.
Put bluntly, Grocott Ink & Thread is a family-owned and -operated screen-printing and embroidery shop located in Hartford, South Dakota.
And while the business’s origins may have started quite modestly, the operation has grown to become a manufacturing powerhouse for all things ink and thread.

The idea for Grocott Ink & Thread was born in a surprising setting: a 1993 karate gym.
Lynn and Lori Grocott were taking karate lessons when they discovered the process for embroidering a belt was ridiculously expensive. They thought there had to be a more cost-effective way to do it.
Amid their research efforts, the Grocotts attended a trade show in Minneapolis and ended up leaving with a commercial-grade embroidery machine — hence, their entry into the embroidery business.
The ironic part of the story?
It turns out that belt embroidery is exceptionally costly. There is no way around it.

Fast-forward to 2015, after the business had seen consistent growth and expansion for a couple of decades. The Grocott’s youngest son, Brian, had graduated from Augustana University with a degree in business and economics, and was primed to work in the family business.

The Grocotts were planning on Brian joining as an account manager. The problem was they had just acquired a heavy-duty automatic screen-printing machine, and they needed help operating it. So they turned to the younger generation.
Brian succeeded well in this role, and his position has since evolved into managing the entire operations of Grocott.

Having an automatic screen-printing machine — as well as upgrading to an industrial gas dryer from an electric dryer — has allowed Grocott Ink & Thread to drastically increase their production volume while maintaining a superior level of quality.
“These upgrades really ramped up our ability to do large-scale orders,” says Brian. “We’re able to do over 300 shirts per hour with this process, which is a significant increase.”
Grocott Ink & Thread is a prime example of the economies of scale a business enjoys through solid investment in manufacturing equipment. With the machinery they currently possess, Grocott Ink & Thread is able to fill sizable orders for big-time clients.
Much of their clientele consists of schools ranging from elementary to college, but customers truly come from all over. Many regional businesses purchase apparel for a number of reasons, and Grocott Ink & Thread’s in-house graphic designer is able to customize the design for their specific occasion or need.
Still, the business fulfills a variety of small-scale orders for individuals and families. While their production volume has increased, they insist that no job is too small.

With five full-time employees, Grocott Ink & Thread is operating like a well-oiled machine.
But the Grocotts are entrepreneurial in spirit, and they contribute to the community in several other ways. For instance, Lynn owns a local trucking business and farms their land. Lori is also a Registered Nurse in addition to her time at Grocott Ink & Thread.
The couple certainly has their hands full, but as any good manufacturer knows: the key is efficiency.
At Grocott Ink & Thread, higher efficiency only means lower costs, higher quality, and a better overall experience for their customer.

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