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Business of the Month: Northwest Embroidery (state-of-the-art digital but still local and personable)

Northwest Embroidery handles logo wear orders, big and small, from its Milton facility that includes hats, shirts, jackets and glassware. (Photo by Steve Dunkelberger)

Milton’s Northwest Embroidery houses some of the most state-of-the-art equipment found in the industry, which keeps the company on the edge of the rising demands of customers regarding color, clarity and durability in embroidery work. But Northwest Embroidery’s heart is found in the old-school practices of handshakes, personal touches and community.

“We are a small business,” said sales representative April Balsley. “We love small businesses. We are all about supporting our community that supports us. We want to keep it local. We have a lot of corporate customers, but really, we do a lot of smaller orders. There are no small orders to us.”

Need 500 logo-wear shirts for a trade show or corporate event? Yep. Need 12 shirts for a wedding party? Yep.

There is a flat $25 set up fee for camera-ready designs or $60 an hour for its in-house designer to do the work. Then the price from there depends on the shirt and design, whether a customer orders 10 or 300. All the work is done at the facility, as well. Rather than outsourcing the production of its logo-wear shirts, or hats or tumblers or jackets, the 37-year-old, family-owned business keeps the work in-house and offers tours of the facility for customers to show that.

And those tours will inevitably include a stop at the pair of Kornit digital printers that are the crown jewels of the shop. Unlike the more familiar silk screening process, digital printing allows for more detailed designs, more durable wear and more vibrant colors.

“There is not a color in the spectrum you can come up with that we can’t work with,” Balsley said.

The printers have few siblings, with only a handful on the West Coast. Disneyland does its in-park logo wear on the same machines because of quality, consistency and color variety they offer. Digital printing also embeds environmentally friendly ink into the threads of the shirt rather than traditional printing processes that only have the ink or stencil pressed onto the top layer of fabric. That means the design last longer because it doesn’t fade or crack.

Balsley uses her 10-year-old son as a wear-and-tear lab rat on designs and shirts.

“I have washed his shirts 100 times,” she said. “The shirts are falling apart, but the logos still look great.”

Northwest Embroidery is located at 2025 Freeman Rd. E., Milton.

Visit http://www.northwestembroidery.com for more information about products, prices, videos and images of the facility.