Eddie Ritz spent 11 years with a Billings company that was bought out and moved to Nashville, Tenn.
That was the bad news.
The good news was that the company left all its specialized equipment behind. Ritz was able to lease the equipment and the building it was in and go to work for himself.
The best news was that he didn’t have to leave Montana.
“I was offered a position in Nashville,” Ritz said. “But, with a majority of our extended family in Billings and our love of Montana, we didn’t want to move.”
Ritz and his wife, Karla, own Mosaic Threads at 2590 Holman Ave., Suite C, in Billings. The company specializes screen printing, embroidery and promotional giveaway products.
Mosaic Threads may be reached at 647-3435 or through its website, www.mosaicthreads.com.
Here’s what else Ritz had to say about how fate and faith played a role in his becoming his own boss:
Nature of the business?
Screen printing, embroidery and promotional giveaway products. We can do small orders of just a few pieces, up to thousands of pieces. We tell our customers that we pretty much do anything, within reason.
Why start this business?
I worked for Suttons for several years before being hired on at
Futureshirts in 2000. I worked there for 11 years until they were bought out and moved to Nashville, Tenn.
The gentleman who owned the building that Futureshirts rented also owned the screen printing equipment. When Futureshirts moved, it didn’t take any of its equipment or supplies, so we made a deal with the owner on the equipment and the rental and away we went. As my wife and I discussed starting our own company, we prayed a lot and kept seeing God open doors for us. Every day something new would show itself and we knew that God was giving us the green light. That was a pretty good indication that we should continue forward with Mosaic Threads.
It was a bit scary opening a shop our size when there is quite a bit of competition in Billings already. My wife and I aren’t really risk takers, but it was amazing how everything fell into place. I basically went from working for Futureshirts one day, and the next as the owner of Mosaic Threads. It was wild.
Getting to know our customers and what they do is most of the fun in all of this. I always ask a lot of questions and make sure our customers are getting exactly what they want or even more.
Where did startup funding come from?
We used money that we had saved and had a couple of credit cards that we used to buy goods. The gentleman who leased us the equipment and building also gave us a very generous discount on our payments for six months and that allowed us to get a jump on our cash flow. We were able to pay ourselves back within nine months. Being debt-free is very important to us.
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for a little over a year.
Your biggest challenge?
Keeping up with the growth of the company. We were planning on being a two-person shop for the first year, but we soon found out that we were growing too quickly and needed more people to help us.
What was done to overcome those challenges?
We currently have six people working for Mosaic Threads, four who were with Futureshirts/Suttons previously. They have been such an asset to our company, with their skills and expertise. We also have a much-appreciated bookkeeper to take care of the financial end of things.
What is being done to expand the business?
We try to do as much local marketing, ads, radio and community events as we can, as well as internet marketing through our website (mosaicthreads.com), Facebook and Twitter. We also like to go about it the old-fashioned way of knocking on doors and talking to potential customers face to face.
We also seek out sales people who want to be part of a growing, fun company. We currently work with two sales people in Montana and one in Colorado.
The biggest success we have had to expand our business comes from our current customers referring us to other people. We work very hard to make sure our customers are pleased with the garments and other promotional items they buy.
Your best business decisions?
Again, I would have to say the wonderful people we hired to work in printing, embroidery and bookkeeping have been pivotal to our success. Our print shop manager is a very hard worker and frees us up to work on company sales and growth. Our employees are such an important part of Mosaic Threads and we want to provide a safe, secure working environment for them, with opportunities for personal growth and advancement.
Your worst business mistake?
Fortunately we haven’t made too many mistakes yet, let’s hope it stays that way. The one thing that I wish we would have done earlier was hire an accountant at the beginning for guidance.
What advice do you have for someone running a business?
Be ready to work hard and put in some long days, as well as some Saturdays. But don’t give up. It is very rewarding at the end of the day.
Number of workers?
What’s your five-year plan for the business?
We want to be a leader in the screen print, embroidery and promotional marketplace and capitalize on our reputation for quality products and service. We love living in Billings and want to find more ways to give back to the community through fundraisers and charitable events.
In order to be a leader in this area, we are constantly exploring innovative ways to improve our performance and quality of our products and the satisfaction of our customers
Above all, our goal every day and for years to come is to always conduct ourselves and the work we do in a manner that exemplifies integrity and strong ethical values and glorifies God.
A question you would ask other entrepreneurs?
One of the big questions I ask myself and I like to ask others is, “Why are you in business?” If your only reason is to make money, I think you missed the boat. I think making money is just a side benefit of being able to help people in whatever manner of work you are in, all the while conducting yourself in a manner that is honoring to God.
If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?
If you would have asked me 10 years ago what my dream job was, I would not have said owning a business. But now I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. I get to work with my family and friends and enjoy it.