Where T-shirts are born

Jed Dean | Lariat Photo Editor
QTI-Powers will host “Business After Hours” from 5 to 7 p.m. today at its new facility on Valley Mills Drive. During the event, screen printers will produce T-shirts to show customers how daily operations work.

Merchandising company to hold open house

By James Stockton

After four years of college, recently graduated students have some new things: a degree, an appreciation of hard work and a large collection of T-shirts.

While many of these shirts come from different organizations and events, most of them begin at the same place: QTI-Powers Inc.

QTI-Powers is a merchandising company formed when two of the leading merchandising companies in Central Texas merged last year: Quality Imaging of Robinson, and PowersCreations of Waco.

QTI-Powers will be hosting Business After Hours tonight at its new warehouse on Franklin Avenue to show customers and the Waco community in general how it operates. It will have machines running throughout the event to show the public what goes into making merchandise, and those in charge of the company will make themselves available to meet those who attend.

While not all QTI-Powers’ customers live in Waco, one of their biggest clients is Baylor University.

Harlingen senior Reece Fitzgerald is a member of Baylor Chamber of Commerce and the liaison between QTI-Powers’ collegiate subdivision BearCotton and Baylor Chamber of Commerce, which puts on most of the major universitywide events on campus.

“We’ve worked with BearCotton over the past few years for Homecoming, Diadeloso and Parent’s Weekend as well as our rush stuff,” Fitzgerald said.

Jeffrey Paul, founder of BearCotton and co-owner of QTI-Powers, listed other events BearCotton makes merchandise for, such as the “I know where I’m going” campaign, 2010 Gold Rush, and almost all athletic events.

They even did a Kim Mulkey bobblehead earlier this season.

Since the Baylor merchandising license is tough to get, BearCotton is proud to be the premiere manufacturer of Baylor gear. However, Baylor gear is not all it produces.

“We have about 100 other licenses for other colleges,” Whitney Leasley, manager of BearCotton, said. “The day of the A&M game, we thought it was really funny because we were printing all these Baylor shirts last minute … and we looked over and we had all these A&M shirts printing on one machine and Baylor shirts on the machine next to it.”

Not only does QPI-Powers create shirts for Baylor’s main events, but it is also the top choice for student organizations on campus. And since most transactions are done through e-mail, QTI-Powers thought Business After Hours would be good to put faces with their clients.

“It’s a good time to see face to face, chit chat. It’s a great opportunity to [have] a more relaxed atmosphere with our customers,” Leasley said.

Business After Hours will begin at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. It is a come-and-go event, with food and drinks provided. The new warehouse is located at 300 S. Valley Mills Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

“Business After Hours is a great time to meet … everyone who works here, see people behind the business we do,” Leasley said.