Celebrating 40 Years of Air Waves
This year we are celebrating 40 years of Air Waves! While many aspects of our business, the technology we use, and our industry have changed and evolved over the years, our values have stayed consistent. We sat down with Dan Pauly who has been a part of the Air Waves team since January of 1991 to learn a little more about his experience being a part of the company’s growth throughout the decades.
Q: What originally brought you to Air Waves?
A: As a graphic designer directly out of Miami University’s graphic arts program, I applied to an opening on Air Waves’ design team in the fall of 1990 and was hired in the first week of January 1991.
Q: What is the biggest improvement you have seen in Air Waves over the years?
A: From my perspective, improvements have happened steadily throughout the company’s history. For example, when I started in ‘91, all design work was done by hand and shot on camera and contact tables; all analog.
With the addition of one Apple II computer that same year, the design process quickly transitioned to primarily digital. Within a few years, the overall output of design work increased dramatically. This digital evolution also worked its way through the prepress process of production, thereby increasing production and repeatability.
On the outward facing side of the business, we expanded our markets internationally and upgraded our sales force in the mid to late 90’s. This forward-thinking approach greatly increased our revenue and growth.
Most impactful, the paradigm shift away from traditional transfer sales to an On Demand product after the mid-2000’s decline and eventual sale of the company to the current ownership in 2009, rocketed the company’s growth and revenue.
Q: In your opinion, how have each of the owners over the 40 years impacted the direction of the company?
A: Stan Peterson along with his partner John Baird paved the way in the heat applied graphic tee industry throughout the 1970’s with the t-shirt company Roach. In 1981, after some readjustment of the business, Stan started Air Waves which grew into one of the largest and well known, creative and respected art and transfer manufactures in the country.
The following co-owners continued with and expanded upon the foundation of creative quality art and innovative, high production methods throughout the 80’s and into the early 2000’s.
In 2009, Kyle Kantner and his partner at the time Michael Leventon purchased Air Waves after a sharp decline in the business due to many factors from major changes in the long standing markets, a drop in the economy and changes in buyer and industry trends.
The new ownership, after a tough period of downsizing and readjusting, found traction in e-commerce market sales. These e-commerce marketplaces coupled with the print-on-demand model, innovation and smart tech investment rocketed the company to new levels of profitable success.
Even through difficult times, Air Waves leadership has stayed consistently true to our pillars of business: Innovate Every Day, Create Your Own Destiny, Respect and Outwork & Outsmart the Competition.
Q: What are you most excited about for the future of Air Waves?
A: The collaboration of Air Waves with its new partner, Hybrid Apparel, is to me exciting. Hybrid offers both new challenges and huge opportunities of growth for Air Waves.
Looking to the Next 40
The Air Waves team has experienced many challenges, periods of growth, and unique opportunities for creativity and innovation throughout the years. In this next stage, we are looking forward to finding ways to stay at the top of our game through new technologies and listening to our customers.
To learn more about the future Air Waves, check out our recent press release announcing our partnership with Hybrid Apparel.