STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich.—With NFL draft announcements now official, the demand for custom apparel designed in a timely manner is high. The 2016 NFL draft, which took place Apr. 28 at the Roosevelt University Auditorium Theater in Chicago, featured a team of three STAHLS’ employees equipped with heat press machinery, football jerseys, and twill heat transfers, alongside attendees and athletes. As draft announcements transpired, the team printed players’ jerseys on demand.
To save time and ensure jerseys were ready as soon as players were named, STAHLS’ account executive Brent Kisha and the STAHLS' team created nameplates to match each football team’s jersey in advance of the draft. Kisha’s team receives a set of first pick names from the NFL roughly two weeks before the draft, allotting the company time to prepare premade items like the twill transfers.
“We build every one of those (players’) names for every team with corresponding colors and fonts,” explains Kisha. In total, Kisha says to accommodate all of the possible pick outcomes, the company printed 38 jerseys and an estimated 1,600 names on the twill transfers.
In addition to a team onsite at the draft in the auditorium, STAHLS’ also stationed a heat printing team of 20 employees at Chicago’s Grant Park where the NFL hosts Draft Town. The separate location is where second and third round draft picks take place, and houses attractions like a Ferris wheel, autograph signings by former NFL players, and other exhibits. The massive event measures the length of 20 football fields. The STAHLS’ team at this location offered attendees personalized NFL shirts with customized names and numbers.
The 2016 NFL draft marks the fifth year the company has provided personalized heat printing services exclusively for the NFL through a contract with Nike. Prior to this collaboration between the personalized heat transfer creators and the football league, draft jerseys consisted of a team number without name customization. Nike approached Kisha and his team about heat printing customized jerseys before the NFL draft in 2012 to see if they would be interested in undertaking the endeavor.
“I knew our organization had the technology to do it,” notes Kisha. “The real question became ‘can we logistically do it’.”
Starting in 2012, Kisha and his team began the onsite, rapid-fire printing method with a jersey for the Indianapolis Colts' first pick Andrew Luck to wear at the podium. While the 2012 draft saw the STAHLS' team setting up shop in the Radio City Music Hall concourse with a relatively sparse layout, Kisha says he’s seen the workspace for STAHLS’ evolve immensely since that time. From 2014 through this year’s draft, he notes that the entire workspace is more akin to a retail space featuring lighting fixtures, tables, shelving, and even wall props. Kisha also contends that this year’s event was the “smoothest ever” since the start of the collaboration.
Watch a clip of Brett Kisha talking to local news channel Fox 2 here: http://tedstahl.com/more-news-coverage-on-the-nfl-draft-this-week/