Mitchell’s Tees a good fit for 36 years in Pittsford

Joshua Fillion, who has worked for Mitchell’s for 16 years, lays down ink on the screen press at the Pittsford company.

For over 30 years, Mitchell’s Tees in Pittsford has been a swarm of activity on most days. That’s because they do more than just printing on t-shirts. They also do embroidery, make signs and banners, apply vinyl decals to vehicles and much more.

But the secret to 36 years of success is that they keep it a family affair.

“Anything with a logo, we can do it,” said Terry Mitchell, who owns the company with his brother Tim. “We sell to places all over New England and as far as Illinois.”

The company began in 1983 when the brothers bought their first screen printer. Today they employ 20 full-time employees. Mitchell said another important factor is keeping current.

“We have to keep updating, keep in step with the technology,” Mitchell said as he pointed out the rows of embroidery machines. “These things run 10 hours-a-day nonstop, our next move will be to add a second shift.”

Mitchell said that automation has helped to improve the efficiency of their operation so much, but that it was not the biggest factor to their success.

“We have been lucky in that we have had a lot of good help over the years,” he said. “We have several people that have been with us for 15 to 20 years.”

One of the busiest places in the shop is the screen-printing area. Here, workers print logos, letters and numbers onto t-shirts, jerseys and caps. They have both manual and automated screen-printing machines they use to transfer designs onto material.

“Depending on the design, we can do over 500 an hour,” said Joshua Felion, who has been with the company for 16 years. “We have one person loading shirts onto the press and another pulling them off and we just go.”

They can print almost any size design, up to about three feet by five feet, onto many different surfaces. Mitchell said they have done all sorts of promotional materials from coolers and key chains, to banners and flags.

“If it fits under the press,” Felion said, “we can make it work.”

In the mail room, two workers sort through up to six dozen boxes they receive each day and send out up to two dozen finished orders. This past Friday they were sending out 100 smaller packages.

Tim Mitchell, one of the owners, lines up a vinyl decal before applying it.

In the middle of the shop is the garage, where they pull vehicles inside to apply vinyl decals.

“We use high-speed vinyl for most projects,” Carrie Buxton said as she applied a graphic to a pickup truck. “It depends on what the customer wants. If they only want the decal on for a day or two we have some lower-quality vinyl we can apply, but mostly this stuff stays on for years.”

Buxton runs the sign shop, printing all the vinyl decals they install. She got into the sign business after originally being a graphic designer.

“I was doing graphic design and then I had a child,” recalled Buxton, a 20-year veteran in the business. “I wanted to stay in a creative field, so I decided to give sign-making a try.”

In a town the size of Pittsford, one might think that one printing and sign company would be plenty for the area, but surprisingly, there are currently three businesses within just a few miles that print signs and tees.

“We don’t really feel like we’re competing with anyone for business,” Buxton said. “There’s really business enough for everybody. We have people from an hour and a half to two hours away come to us for decals.”

Buxton has been making signs for many years, but she has been working at Mitchell’s for the past five. She said there is definitely something special about the company that she really enjoys.

Carrie Buxton peels off the backing paper to reveal the design she has laid down on a vehicle.

“It feels like it’s more family-oriented here,” she said. “We have barbecues in the summer. Both the brothers are big hunters, so some days it’ll be moose burger day, or something.”

Buxton said everyone in the shop is very close and they all feel like family.

“Everyone cares about each other and I love the people I work with,” she said with a genuine smile. “When we have a good week sometimes Terry will walk through the shop and hand everyone a twenty dollar bill, just because. We also get our birthdays off.”

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