Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson

Success Stories Ep 42 - "It's a Family Affair"

April 06, 2022 Marshall Atkinson Season 2 Episode 42
Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson
Success Stories Ep 42 - "It's a Family Affair"
Show Notes Transcript

On today’s Success Stories podcast we are going to focus on what it is like to build out a family business that actually works. 

Heather Streible is the leader of a woman-owned apparel decorating company, Replica Screen Printing, that she runs with her family in Cave City, Kentucky.  Their dedication to perfection, friendly customer service, and reputation for doing high-end detailed work have garnered Replica Screen Printing a loyal following.

We’ll learn how Heather and her family have come together to make this shop a powerful presence in their community.

Marshall Atkinson  0:07  

On today's Success Stories podcast, we're gonna focus on what it's like to build out a family business that actually works. Heather's tribe is the leader of a woman-owned apparel decorating company, Replica Screenprinting, that she runs with her family in cave city, Kentucky. Their dedication to perfection, friendly customer service, and reputation for doing high-end detailed work have garnered Replica Screenprinting a loyal following. We'll learn how Heather and her family have come together to make this shop a powerful presence in their community. So Heather, welcome to the Success Stories podcast. 

Heather Streible  1:05  

Excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Marshall Atkinson  1:07  

Yeah. So tell us real quick about your shop, how long you've been in a business, and kind of just the general nuts and bolts of how it works.

Heather Streible  1:15  

Okay. Well, Replica actually has been in business since 2005. I came on board and started running the shop in I think it was around 2009. My previous history was LithoFlexo Printing in the paper and plastics industry, and I ended up in a screen printing shop. So I worked for Kate for a couple of years. And then I had the option to buy a Replica out in 2014. With my mom, Melissa.

Marshall Atkinson  1:44  

And who do you guys focus on serving? What's your main type of customer?

Heather Streible  1:48  

A lot of our base customers aren't your typical customers, schools, businesses, factories, and stuff. But something that makes us a little bit different is I'm really into lifting and so we do a lot of work for Strongman competitions, gyms, and then I'm also into hunting. So we do a lot of shirts and designs and stuff for that called makers and the hunting industry.

Marshall Atkinson  2:11  

Okay, and so those are kind of like hobbies that have turned into a niche that you support. That's really cool.

Heather Streible  2:19  

I always say, you know, your little niche should be where you enjoy and what you enjoy. And if you're good at it, then that makes your products and they get that much better.

Marshall Atkinson  2:28  

Well, plus, you know, the people in it, you know, the secret language, or the funny little joke, and those always made the best shirts, I think, for sure, for sure. Right? So we mentioned in the opener, that you guys are a family business. And I think sometimes the family dynamic, you know, gets a little weird. I've worked for people that have a family, business, and everything. So what's the secret for getting along and keeping work at work? And family time separate? So how are you guys setting boundaries for what you guys do in Replica?

Heather Streible  3:07  

I would like to say that that's always the case. But it's not always actually in our shop, I co-own the business with my mother, Melissa, but then we have my brother in law works for us. And my dad has just recently retired from working with us. So you know, there's a lot of times, I find that no one cares about the business as much as your family. But, you know, working together day in and day out has its trials and tribulations for sure.

Marshall Atkinson  3:35  

So how do you manage that? Because I don't think I could work with my family. So how do you guys, because there are challenges where people are supposed to do something, and you know, if it's an employee, you can write them up, or you know, where things got really weird. You can fire him, right. But it's really hard to do that if that's your, you know, your relative, right. So how do you guys kind of manage that? 

Heather Streible  4:01  

Well, I think the way our business is set up, we have our specialty. So my specialty is I'm over the graphics I'm over for the production area part. I know that well, I have a good grasp of my app, but I do not have a good grasp of accounting and accounts payable. So we have our office is actually set up separated. So my mom has her side of the business where she has all of our accounting stuff and she stays in her area. And I stay in my area. And you know, there are some things that we do, they kind of overlap each other. But for the most part, we set boundaries to say you know, this is my part of the business. That's your part of the business. And, you know, we do make big decisions together buying equipment races and stuff like that, but we kind of just have really separated the businesses into our key points of what we're good at.

Marshall Atkinson  4:54  

Okay, so And what about you know, your dad worked for you or your brother-in-law that still does, right? How are you managing that type of stuff, you know, just to get things done. And at the end of the day, you know, at nine o'clock at night, we're not talking about the order that has to go, right, we're leaving it at the office.

Heather Streible  5:17  

We tried to do that quite a bit, I'll tell a story that I and my dad worked together many years before my mom came on board full time. And we have so much of the same personality. So We butted heads a lot. In our old shop, we had this huge read the work. And I remember one day he came in, and we got into it and was one of those mother and father-daughter, you know, arguments. And he was like, I'm still your father. And I looked at him, I'm like, really not to four o'clock, you're not. And that's how we've had to kind of separate that, you know, we are family, but at the time, you're at work, you know, you're my employee, I'm your boss, you're my partner, not my mother. And we just have to separate and kind of set those areas to where you kind of have to think of it that way. And then when you go home, you know, then the family time starts. And like I said, it doesn't always work, but we try to make it work.

Marshall Atkinson  6:14  

Right? And have you had to, like sometimes just take a chill pill about something? And just we know what I know, this is really important. But let's just wait until Monday to talk about that. And just like cool things down. Because of you know, this is a stressful industry sometimes. And I think getting everything kind of compartmentalized sometimes is the right way to work it, especially in a family business.

Heather Streible  6:40  

Yeah. I mean, I think we, especially like me and mom and even Tony, I mean, we all know that you know, there's a certain time that we have to stop and just like, have a discussion and clear the air. And you know, I'm more of a direct person, I have a tendency not to ask people to do things, I have a tendency to tell people to do them. Because I'm always on the go. And I want an immediate reaction. And my mom is more like the sugarcoating kind of sweet person. But she's been a manager. And, you know, I say that I let her deal with a lot of mediation between the group because she's better at it than I am. And I know that, but we just kind of, as I said, we play to our strengths. So I know that if there's an issue between Tony and me, a lot of times, it's better to let mom mediate between the two of us.

Marshall Atkinson  7:31  

Right? Okay. And that really helps kind of smooth the waters a little bit. Would you think if you weren't all related, you guys would operate differently?

Heather Streible  7:42  

Honestly, I don't think so. Because Tony has been with us, I don't know, probably about the last four or five years but we've had other people who weren't here we have a lady that works for us full time. And sometimes I actually think it's, um, harder. I think you're harder on family than you are some of your other employees because it's hard to bring it into family versus business. And so you know what's going on in their home life and when that comes into play at work, it's like, you have to kind of step back and take a look at it and calm everything down.

Marshall Atkinson  8:16  

Like what you hear so far? Be sure to subscribe so you can get the latest from Success Stories. And now here's Zach Shortley with her S&S spotlight.

Commercial  8:26  

From creating products using recycled ocean plastic to finding ways of making apparel using wood pulp. Adidas has been a global leader in sustainability for years. That's why we love being their exclusive supplier to the wholesale market and why we're excited about our expanded line for 2022. Now your sustainably conscious clients can get a hold of hooded sweatshirts, matching joggers, windbreaker jackets, and pullovers all made using 100% recycled polyester. So the next time they're in need of a sporty premium look, give your clients something branded with the three stripe logo they all know and love only at Thanks for listening.

Marshall Atkinson  9:07  

So let's say there's a problem or a challenge. You know, we have those right, like that you have to overcome that. Do you think it's easier to have a family member help you through that than just like an employee?

Heather Streible  9:21  

Yes. Because like I said before, nobody cares about your business as much as your family. So I know that no matter what a mom might agree or disagree on I know at the end of the day, we're going to make sure that what we decide for the business is going to be the best choice. It's hard a lot of times to get employees to stay till midnight to finish in order but I know that you know I can call my dad to get him off the couch and he can come in here and you'll help me screenprint to the wee hours of the night or I need something on a Saturday. I know that I can call Tony and he would come in. He might fuss a little bit you know he would Be here. And so I think in that aspect, you know, you know, you can count on your family a lot of times more than you can your regular employees. But we've gotten really lucky, the two employees that are not family are basically like family to us because we've just got some really good folks that worked for us.

Marshall Atkinson  10:18  

Did they work for you for a while?

Heather Streible  10:20  

Christina, she has been here, for probably about two years. And she was just immediate. We've gone through some real winners like most people have, that didn't care about the business. But Christina, she does. I mean, she reminds me of like a mini-me because she is into everything. She's there's nothing in the shop that she can't do. And she's very great to have. And then our other employee, actually, he's a good friend of mine, that he just said, you know, I want to help you out. I'm free. And he's just been, he's been great to work with, he's got a lot of knowledge meant, and sales and how things run. So just kind of fit.

Marshall Atkinson  11:04  

And so from your perspective as one of the Co-owners, right? Do you -- just from a family perspective, look at what you're doing, and how you like how you structure the business with sales or pay, or hours that are worked or that type of stuff? What are some of your tips for somebody who's listening right now, thinking about, you know, we work, I work with my husband, or I, my wife, or my mother or my father or whatever? How would you? Maybe they're struggling a little bit? Can you give them some tips about maybe how you guys do things, so they can have a takeaway, and maybe run their business better.

Heather Streible  11:48  

Like I said, to me, it works better when you have plain focus areas of what you do. That way, you're not competing against each other. I know that me and mom both order, do orders for shirts, and we both, you know, help customers. But I think having specific goals and what you can accomplish throughout the day, Mom knows that she's got accounting, and she's got to do the taxes. And she leaves me to do the graphics. And I think that helps just to have specific roles that you focus on.

Marshall Atkinson  12:25  

Okay, so really just delineating areas that each person works on, and then they're in charge of that really helps.

Heather Streible  12:34  

Yes, for sure.

Marshall Atkinson  12:36  

All right. So how do you guys handle criticism there? So what maybe your mom doesn't do like her job as well as you think you should? Or maybe she thinks that about you? How do you guys broach that without like, you know, causing a big drama fest?

Heather Streible  12:54  

We've got that all rolled down really good. So you know, we might not say what we're thinking, but we did give each other the looks. But really, it's just kind of we just sit down and say, you know, this is this area, and we need to decide how we're going to move forward. If it's, you know if there's something that I need to kind of take over. Right now, the whole thing with pricing prices is changing constantly. And so that's something that, you know, I do a lot more of just because it's constantly flowing. And, you know, we just kind of talk about it and say, if I need to take on something, or if I've got something that I need her to take on, we just communication is really key, without roles or without.

Marshall Atkinson  13:39  

Right? And are you just thinking about the future of the company? Right? So, you know, think about like, the next few years for you guys, right? How are you getting family members behind your goals, you know, setting goals and working toward completion of that, that kind of work? Like, how do you guys do that there?

Heather Streible  14:01  

Well, I mean, I think over the years, we've grown and I think we've had to learn that, you know, you want to be competitive, and you want to have a good product and good pricing, but you also have to choose what's best for your company. And I know with us like a lot of our screenprint errs in our area are what I call ink slappers they're just slapping ink on a shirt doesn't care what it looks like how thick it is. And so I think you know, going forward, we just always want to make sure our quality is really well and we have customer service. And eventually, my mom will end up you know, stepping back more and more. And we're either gonna have to hire somebody outside the family to kind of take on some of those roles, or I'll have to take on one of those roles.

Marshall Atkinson  14:50  

Yeah, I was gonna say that's interesting in that there could be an exit strategy for your mom, Melissa. What are you guys talking about now?

Heather Streible  15:01  

Slightly guess we're trying to set stuff up to where, you know, I'm eventually going to have to learn more of her office stuff just to, you know, help out if she's not here. But you know, this, this is a couple of years down the road, but we, I would love for her to be off more and have more free time throughout the week, and where she's not stuck here, you know, five days a week. But that is something that will slowly start to change.

Marshall Atkinson  15:32  

Right? And do your customers like that you guys are a family business? And do they see that as kind of, you know, benefit?

Heather Streible  15:40  

I think so. I think that they know that with us being a small woman-owned business, say, you know, I want to make sure that Replica and my mom do to that, you know, we have really good customer service. And we're really talking and we're really community involved in, I think, when you're a family on business, I mean, that is something that most of the time that you are a little bit more, and it really shows through your customers, how they feel.

Marshall Atkinson  16:09  

Okay? And do you network with any other family-owned businesses in your area, and like, compare how they do things or like pick up ideas from them about, you know, just the dynamic of making the business work?

Heather Streible  16:23  

Yeah, we actually, one thing that's really kind of cool about our little town. And if you follow me at all, you see that we were really trying to grow our small town, but most of the businesses in town are family-owned woman-owned businesses. So we're always kind of networking and kind of hitting ideas off of each other. And it's also good for moral support, you know, because there's an ice cream coffee shop that has almost the exact same dynamic as my mom and dad, you know, I can tell it to the daughter about how it is being a daughter, working with your mother. And it works, it works really well. And we've kind of started trying to do a lot with a lot of the businesses in our area are all family-owned small businesses. So we've kind of come and started a group kind of to, we meet twice a month to kind of talk about and hit ideas and how we can make our businesses grow together, and help each other out.

Marshall Atkinson  17:21  

You know, so she kind of brought it up a little bit. So let's talk about having a woman-owned business, right? So it's just women in business, in general, that doesn't happen much in this industry, it's even rarer. Right? So how do you guys think about that, and get shrink from that and kind of help other women in the industry? Because there are certainly many more, it seems like there are really doing great in the industry. What are you doing about that?

Heather Streible  17:52  

Well, as I said, we, I'm all about supporting women, I think a lot of times, in the past women kind of brought each other down, and it's like, you know, that's not what we need to do women need to, to respect each other and build each other up and, you know, try to use each other's business because, you know, it's, it's a tribe, and I think, you know, the more we can work together, and the women in business can be a very powerful group. And luckily, you know, I've heard some horror stories and women and some other the screenprint in groups and stuff talk about how they've been treated in the industry. And luckily, I've never had that issue. But I want to make sure that if there's anybody that I can help along the way, you know, I'm here to help them and give them you know, ideas or, or, you know, have we've kind of worked through some issues and stuff, because luckily, I had a great group of guys, how I met you and Alan and everybody kind of helped build us up. And I've just wanted to do that for other women too.

Marshall Atkinson  18:57  

Okay, that's great. So, just kind of winding up here a little bit. So if there was a, you know, your top three things that you would think about, that really makes your business as a family business and you know, as a business in general work, right? What would you kind of like a list that so so other people could emulate what works for you?

Heather Streible  19:22  

I think you have to have open communication and patience. Because like I said, dealing with family a lot of times, emotions can get hard, but you just have to know when to step back and have a conversation or step away and come back to the conversation. And then four is like the business for a family is just having really good customer service and kind of working making sure that everybody's playing to their strengths in the business.

Marshall Atkinson  19:51  

Do you guys invest time in learning and training and trying new things so you can grow?

Heather Streible  19:58  

Yes. COVID is kind of damper that so I mean, I enjoy all of the classes and, and whatnot, we used to do a lot of training in different places and I missed setting down talking shop with all the screen printers, the online virtual stuff is nice, but I really miss the interaction with all of my fellow screen printers and you just never know what's going to happen with the events and stuff. So I'll really be glad when we can get back to that.

Marshall Atkinson  20:26  

Okay, well, great. So how do you think your powerlifting and what you do as a sport has helped you as a business owner? Is it any of that it's kind of like, support each other a little bit?

Heather Streible  20:39  

Yeah. Honestly, I think that's really kind of what set me up to be able to pursue more people at their business. Because before I started lifting, and I was kind of a very timid person, they would know me no way I would have gotten on a podcast or I had a real issue, you know, dealing with people, I was just timid. And so I think the whole powerlifting strongman competitions stuff has really helped my inner Tiger, I guess you could say, I'm just, I'm just ready. I mean, very eager to, to get out there and meet new people and try new things.

Marshall Atkinson  21:15  

Yeah. So do you think like that sport, which is all really about proving yourself, right, you always want to beat your last record? Has that helped you in business? You know, just, you know, for sales you want to be or this week's record? Or, you know, that kind of stuff you could really see is the same sometimes.

Heather Streible  21:33  

Yeah, you know, I tell everybody that our goal at Replica was to be one of the high-end woman screen printers in the industry. And, you know, I think we have done that, and we'll continue doing that. And I'm always, you know, trying to learn new things and, and grow with our techniques here. And, you know, whether, like you said, sales and pushing ourselves to just grow or be better printers.

Marshall Atkinson  22:04  

Right. Are you like experimenting all the time, we're just goofing around with stuff just to see what will happen. 

Heather Streible  22:09  

Yeah, we do a lot of oddball r&d stuff. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. And that's what I hope well, we're a little bit slower now that you know, to spend some time doing some different things.

Marshall Atkinson  22:20  

Awesome. Well, cool. Well, hey, thank you so much for sharing your story of success with us today. Hi, there. So if someone wants to learn more about what you do, or how you could help them, what's the best way to contact you?

Heather Streible  22:34  

They're afraid to send an email at Reach out to me on Facebook and Instagram, they can call me anytime at the shop. I'm really, incredibly, available for anybody.

Marshall Atkinson  22:44  

Thank you so much for your time today. Heather, really appreciate you helping us out on the podcast. Thanks.

Heather Streible  22:53  

Thank you!