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Personalizing Athletics

South Carolina printer finds niche in 'locker tags'




Many high schools are just closing up shop for the summer. But in Florence, South Carolina, Academy Awards is already gearing up for the next academic year.

Each year, the print shop receives, on average, 20-100 orders per week to customize lockers for high-school athletes around the country. Referred to as “locker tags,” these are 4 x 6.5-inch personalized graphics output onto various adhesive- or magnetic-backed media, for athletic and private lockers, coaches doors, and other applications, all finished to customer spec.

Academy uses Roland VersaCamms—or Roland Pro III models for large orders—in conjunction with a Wasatch SoftRIP to customize the locker graphics. The RIP’s Variable Data Printing option enables the shop to load client files with each athlete’s name and number directly into variable-data fields (versus manual entry).

“The locker tag division is a neat business model, and a fun product offering, although it only makes up about five percent of our sales,” says Jay McLaughlin, Academy Awards’ president. “The orders run throughout the year, we produce them for all sporting seasons, and we’ve made quite a bit for some college and universities as well. Variable data allows us to personalize not only locker tags but also jerseys, banners, flags, and all kinds of work—it’s opened up new markets for us.”

Academy Awards ( began in the 1980s as a small, family screen-printing operation with six employees. Today, it operates out of a nearly 70,000-square-foot facility using state-of-the-art technology to offer its clients a wide variety of products, from car flags and banners to custom, collegiate, and professional novelty items. The company specializes in wide-format sublimation.

Academy Awards




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