Exclusive Coverage: Air Waves Doubling Production Capacity at Ohio Headquarters

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio—For the second year in a row Air Waves Inc. is in the news for selling off one of its divisions.

The company recently sold its heat transfer division to F&M Expressions. Last year, it sold off its digital transfer paper division to Joto Paper Inc.

The moves, according to chief operating officer Michael Leaventon, were made so the company could focus more on its core business: on-demand garment printing and order fulfillment.

“It’s to focus more on our e-commerce fulfillment business,” Leaventon says of shedding those two divisions. “Ordering garments online (from whatever source) – that’s not going away. And we just found that we were in a lot of different businesses.”

The company’s e-commerce fulfillment business is growing to the point where this fall, it is relocating to another facility in Lewis Center that is more than double the size of its current location.

The company says the extra space is needed to add capacity and maintain its fast turnaround time.

Air Waves handles direct-to-garment, screen printing and sublimation for a variety of garment websites, retailers, and major online marketplaces.

“So if you go online on their website and you order a T-shirt, they’re just running the store, we’re running the warehouse and production. We send it to their customer,” Leaventon says. “Our value proposition to customers is that no matter what platform they’re on, they carry no inventory and everything’s printed and shipped on demand, within 24 to 48 hours.

“I’d say about 90 percent of our orders go out within 48 hours.”

Air Waves employs about 85 people currently and the expansion is likely to lead to the creation of additional jobs, although Leaventon would not be specific about how many or speculate on the timing of those new jobs.

Founded in 1981, Air Waves is strategically located in what seems to be ground zero for fulfillment companies, with thousands of people in that region employed by the apparel industry.

“There’s a lot of apparel companies here,” Leaventon says. “It kind of starts with The Limited and (L) Brands, Abercrombie, Lane Bryant’s here, so you have tremendous amounts of brands and retailers that are located here in Columbus (Lewis Center is a suburb about 20 miles from Ohio’s capital city). And for the fulfillment business, naturally anywhere in the Midwest but specifically Columbus, Ohio, is very popular for fulfillment because of the shipping. We can reach between 75 and 80 percent of the U.S. in a two-day ground ship from here.”

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