STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich.—STAHLS’ continues its annual participation in the NFL Draft with behind-the-scenes and on-demand decoration. The 2018 draft marks the seventh year the company has provided services for the sports league.
Taking place April 26–28 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the high-profile event only requires the company’s decorators onsite for a few hours but takes “months of preparation,” explains Josh Ellsworth, vice president of sales, dealer channel, because of all the variables.
Attendees at the 2018 NFL Draft. (All images courtesy STAHLS')
“The prep before the event includes getting a list of prospects from Nike who we decorate on behalf of at the event,” he adds. “Once we have that list, we make every possible combination of player and team in multiple sets.”
Pre-made team and player names are key to the fast jersey decoration at the draft.
The company stocks up roughly 1,200–1,400 ready-to-heat-apply names with eight blank jerseys from each team to account for any potential trades. Jerseys are decorated with the No. 1 on the backs and fronts, with a nameplate that matches the jersey fabric sewn into position. To ensure jerseys are prepped in time for pick announcements, STAHLS’ uses a heat-activated adhesive so the onsite team can customize the garment within seconds. While they continue to make improvements annually, Ellsworth says the heat-printing process at its core has remained largely the same.
The STAHLS' team at work behind the scenes.
For such a massive engagement, the company typically sends a three-person crew to handle the job. This year’s company team included first-year participant Scott Vallee, second-year veteran Justin Coleman, and Brent Kisha, director of technology advancement and strategic sales. Kisha’s involvement dates back to the start.
“It’s a total team effort, but Kisha pioneered the program from the beginning with Nike,” says Ellsworth.
Kisha and his decoration team.
While the event went smoothly, Ellsworth says there was one big surprise for both the STAHLS’ and attendees of the draft. Siblings Terrell Edmunds and Tremaine Edmunds were drafted Thursday night, which marks the first time brothers have been picked in the first round of the same draft. Despite the surprise selection, STAHLS’ was able to turn a jersey around quickly thanks to the setup and preparation.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Edmunds brothers with a STAHLS'-decorated jersey.
When asked why the company enjoys working with the league, Ellsworth points out that the speediness of the setup “proves that heat printing can be used to handle garment decoration fast.”
In addition to the yearly draft, the company frequently collaborates with the NFL on custom designs. In April 2017, STAHLS’ designed a commemorative jersey for the New England Patriots’ visit to the White House.
For more information, visit https://www.stahls.com/.