Screen Printing - April/May 2018 - 25
Left: With sustainability in mind, Yunker designed, engineered, and produced trellis systems using Falconboard, which is sustainably
produced and recyclable. Right: Yunker, which holds SGP and Green Tier certifications, invested in a box maker to reduce cardboard
waste as well as a machine [pictured] that makes bubble wrap out of biodegradable materials.
He makes it sound easy, but establishing that value came
from years of re-envisioning every aspect of the business,
from eliminating Styrofoam cups and individual coffee
creamers to installing a solar energy system.
"Small changes over a long time have a big impact," Henry
says. For example, the shop recently upgraded to LEDs
throughout its 16,000-square-foot facility. Henry says the lighting
is roughly 30 percent more efficient and 25 percent brighter -
making employees' jobs easier while saving the company money
and reducing its environmental impact. "Twenty-six years ago,
you didn't care about your electricity costs, and you didn't really
know where your energy came from," Henry says. Today, he
fully appreciates the difference that conducting business with
such simple information can make.
The company also developed what it calls the Rehance
process. It was the late '90s, and they were still seeking a
unique process and product to differentiate themselves while
offering additional value to their customers. The two-step system they came up with involves printing white blanks before
the garments are dyed rather than afterward. At that time,
water-based ink technology still lagged in getting opaque prints
on a dark shirt, and the drive to remove PVC and phthalates
from plastisol was still in its infancy. Rehance uses a specially
formulated, dye-resistant, water-based ink made in-house.
On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the TS team
prints white T-shirts on their TAS presses. Friday, Saturday,
and Sunday are when the printed garments are dyed. Henry
says the final designs are crack-, peel-, and heat-resistant,
and provide a soft hand while using less ink, and without the
additional chemicals involved in discharge printing.
Then, 10 years ago, the company launched another
differentiator: Cotton of the Carolinas, a T-shirt line that's
produced, as Henry says, from "dirt to shirt in 580 miles." TS
Designs buys cotton from North and South Carolina growers,
converts it, and stitches in a process that consumers can easily
track. At whereyourclothing.com, clients can enter the tracking info and learn about every person, from farmer to knitter to
cut-and-sew operator, who had a hand in creating their shirt.
Henry says there are two ways to hold businesses
accountable - regulations and transparency - and he believes
in the power of the latter. "We are what we are," he says.
"We're making our business completely transparent to the
marketplace. It builds a level of trust that allows us to learn
and grow." And to Henry, it's simply doing what's right. He
adds, "Business can be the power of change, and we want to
be part of that change."
Yunker IndustrIes: A FAmIlY AFFAIr
The late Warren Yunker always said he wanted his company to
have fans, not customers, and he wanted a family, not employees. Seventy years after he founded the company, Yunker Industries (yunker.com) still holds those values in the highest regard.
Nadine Seitz, marketing manager, says that the company's
dedication to sustainability is simply an extension of those
family values: "What matters to Yunker is we're a family here.
It's the environment that we live and work in. It all matters."
Yunker is a retail graphics and décor provider based in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and is the only printer in the state to be both
SGP- and Green Tier-certified. SGP (sgppartnership.org) is a
nonprofit that certifies printing facilities' sustainability practices,
spanning process, product, and social areas. Green Tier is a
program run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
that helps companies work toward a green bottom line.
SGP certification is a rigorous, ongoing process that Seitz
says should be taken very seriously by those considering it.
Yunker's sustainability efforts are led by its SGP committee,
which is spearheaded by Seitz and includes Kari Yunker, company president and CEO; Doug Oakes, VP of operations and
client services; and Phil Dantuma, purchasing manager. But
beyond these ringleaders, it's a company-wide effort.
"People look at it on the outside and they think it's just sorting
garbage," says Oakes. "That's a really small portion of the whole
task." At Yunker, sustainability means mindfulness in terms of
employee wellness, recordkeeping, hazardous waste handling,
health and safety procedures, training, shipping - all the way to
the parking lot where the snow removal company lays down salt.
And that means departments like human resources, accounting,
maintenance, and more have to be in the loop, too.
In addition to using LEDs, investing in UV print technology,
upselling sustainable substrates like Falconboard, and carefully
april / may 2018