Written by Laura Campbell Wednesday, 11 July 2007 04:42
In Africa, the green monkey is a medium-sized primate with fur ranging in color from pale yellow to gray-green to brown.
In Hillsboro, it’s a 7-year-old boy in a green T-shirt—and now a new screenprinting and embroidery business, owned by Lyle and Kathy Isaac and Lynette and Brent Barkman, that decorates T-shirts and other items of nearly any color.
| Laura Campbell / Free Press
Owners Lynette and Brent Barkman and Lyle and Kathy Isaac (from left) intend Green Monkey Graphics to be a missions-based business as well as a profit-making enterprise. Click image to enlarge.
As the new venture of two local families, it’s fitting that the unique name for Green Monkey Graphics was inspired by one of the family members.
“My little 7-year-old boy (Jacob) appears to be part monkey sometimes, jumping around, and his favorite color is green,” said Lyle Isaac.
“One evening as I was sitting around trying to figure out a name for this business...he was jumping around with his green T-shirt on, and I said, ‘You little green monkey.’
“Then I jokingly told (the Barkmans) that’s what we were going to name the business,” he added. “One thing led to another, and here we are with the Green Monkey name. It’s very catchy, people remember it, and we can do pretty creative advertising with it.”
While the new business has only been taking orders out of its location at 115 N. Main since May, Green Monkey Graphics has much more than two months’ experience behind it.
“My brother (Lonnie) and I had a screenprinting and embroidery business for about four years,” Isaac said. “We had sold that a year ago to another company, and I went to work for Brent and Lynette at Golden Heritage Foods.
“Then they came to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want get back into the screenprinting and embroidery business?’” he said. “They wanted to get one started, and it seemed kind of a natural fit, since I already worked for them out there.
“So we ended up actually going and buying back the equipment we had sold to the other business.”
But the Isaacs and Barkmans have added an important piece of equipment to the new business—a full-color, direct-to-garment inkjet printer.
“It’s pretty much the latest technology in screenprinting,” Isaac said. “We can do from one to thousands of shirts, whatever customers need.
“Right now, I’m doing a single T-shirt to be delivered this weekend,” he added. “It makes it easy to do a single, multi-colored shirt at a reasonable price with a quick turnaround.”
And while they tend to be the most popular item for direct-to-garment printing, screenprinting or embroidery, shirts are only the beginning.
“We have lots of catalogs of everything—almost anything in decorated apparel we can do,” Lynette Barkman said.
Added Isaac: “And trinkets—we’re going to be expanding into pens, pencils, koozies, Frisbees—all with a company’s name on them. We’ve got some pretty big plans, a lot of different directions we want to go.”
Those directions definitely include north, south, east and west as the business looks to establish a nationwide presence in the printing industry.
“With the connections that the Barkmans have nationwide, there’s a lot of opportunity there to branch out,” Isaac said.
A Web site will eventually be an important part of that.
“We hope to expand in that area—you can reach a lot of people that way,” he said. “Right now they can contact us by e-mail, but we don’t have a Web site.”
Locally, their storefront will offer community service and support that other businesses just can’t offer Hillsboro customers through the Internet alone, Isaac said.
“A lot of Internet sites have a really cheap price up front, but they have a lot of hidden charges,” he added. “When we quote a price, there are no surprises, no additions to that.”
Also, Isaac said, customers can come back and make those last-minute additions to their order, even if it is as little as two more T-shirts.
“We can turn around and do that, and have them to them rather quickly, whereas if they try to do that on the Internet, then you have to go back and pay all the setup fees again,” he said. “We want to be pretty flexible.”
And with in-house graphic designers available, Green Monkey Graphics can turn even a vague idea into a polished product.
“We can take the exact design that they want, or if they come in with a concept, we’ll put together several designs and see what they like,” Isaac said.
No regular store hours are established yet, he said, but customers can call or e-mail for appointments or quotes.
“We want to get to the point where this is an open storefront, where there’s a showroom area up front, and we may even do some retail selling of limited items,” he said.
“We haven’t talked about a timeline—we’re just moving into it as we can.”
Family, friends and other community members make up the roster of part-time employees that will contribute to the business’s design, production and local and regional sales.
“We want to be able to offer jobs for college students that are looking for some part-time work,” Isaac added. “We want to grow to the point that we can do that.”
Ultimately, giving back to the community as a missions-based business is what it’s all about for the Barkmans and the Isaacs.
“That’s the way we run Golden Heritage Foods, and Lyle said that’s the way we’ll run Green Monkey Graphics,” said Brent Barkman.
Lynette, who has been a stay-at-home mother while her kids were at home, is looking forward to trying something new now that youngest child Caleb has graduated from high school.
“My kids are all gone now, so Mom had to find something to do,” she said with a smile.
Green Monkey Graphics can be reached at 947-2773 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.