Upon graduation from Kansas State University, Dave Dreiling sold his limousine business and used the $2,800 proceeds to buy half of “It’s Greek To Me” from David Barnes. Their business plan consisted of traveling in vans to sororities and fraternities across the Midwest, selling Greek apparel “on the spot." Unable to get financing, Mr. Barnes obtained a $6,000 home equity line of credit, which the two used to start their new venture. Although incredibly under-capitalized, the two found a way to make it work. They hired three sales representatives that traveled with them, spending four to six nights a week on the road. First year sales exceeded $500,000.
Dave Dreiling and Dave Barnes expanded their sales region to include college campuses from Ohio to Southern California. Dave Dreiling converted his garage to their first Manhattan, Kansas warehouse. They secured a $30,000 SBA line of credit, and sales hit $1M.
The owners decided to consolidate all of their operations in Manhattan and rented 6,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. It adjoined a used motorcycle shop with a very thin wall! (Vroom vroom!) They bought their very first embroidery machine at a time when this was just a novelty. Dave Dreiling began to buy out Dave Barnes’s stock. Sales ballooned to $1.8M.
Dave Dreiling was named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Small Business Administration for the state of Kansas and Missouri.
The “Great Flood of ‘93” spawned the idea of a unique tee that featured “Willie” (the KSU mascot) and the “Jayhawk” (from some other school) floating together in a life raft. Profits from the sales garnered a $160,000 donation to the Red Cross for flood relief. The company also expanded their product offerings to high school teams in Kansas, thus the eventual name change to “GTM Sportswear Inc.”
INC Magazine named Dave Dreiling (CEO) as a finalist for the Kansas/Western Missouri “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
The company’s sales exceeded $4M. To celebrate achieving a “4.0”, the whole company (which consisted of 56 people including employees and families) celebrated the 4th of July at a resort on Lake of the Ozarks.
The company expanded their retail presence via the “Cats Closet”, a new partnership with K-State Athletics involving a retail store at the football stadium and other venues. This retail store allowed GTM to offer K-State product to the fans on-the-spot, preparing them for every game.
GTM moved into their new 32,000 square foot facility on McCall Rd. Dave goes on record as having said “We will never move again!”
The company also developed a semi-permanent cushion seat for K-State Athletics. GTM then further developed the idea and patented it. This has led to seating programs in over 80 college stadiums across the US, and the eventual spin off of another company “Cushion Seats Inc.”
GTM’s website went live for the first time, giving customers the opportunity to view GTM products all over the world.
GTM expanded its building another 5,000 square feet as its “High School” division continued to grow 30-40% annually.
As a response to 9-11, GTM launched a “flag tee” project and marketed it to every school in the US, resulting in a donation of over $175,000 to victims and families. GTM’s sales exceeded $7.4M.
Stasyx custom programming was implemented, giving GTM the opportunity to automate the warehouse inventory, streamline production, and provide outstanding customer relationship management. This program gave GTM a competitive advantage and increased sales by 42% and profits by over 50%.
GTM decided to merge its various sales divisions together into “GTM Custom” in order to focus more on the high school teams and related markets. At the same time, a strategic decision was made to pursue factory direct buying, resulting in lower prices and better products for customers. GTM expanded once again, adding an additional 7,000 square feet to the building.
Sales exceeded $11M, and we were out of room again! Dave thought “Another 7,000 square foot expansion should take care of us for awhile, right?”
GTM also continued to expand into many new sport markets, offering GTM branded products.
Deeper market penetration throughout the US resulted in sales climbing to over $16M. A 10,500 square foot expansion alleviated overcrowding. The implementation process of “Imagine” was started. Imagine was a new software system that allowed us to automate the ordering processes and gave us the opportunity to have better communication flow and less order defects.
GTM continued to grow, including more products, more employees, and another building expansion. GTM went live with their proprietary software system “Imagine”. A greatly expanded product mix results in sales of over $23M.
Another big building expansion of 24,000 square feet brought total square footage to over 108,000 square feet. The employee count topped 400 people and sales grew to $34M.
Dave Dreiling was announced Entrepreneur of the Year - Ernst & Young Central Midwest Region for Customer Products.
GTM introduced sequins and flexi print to expand their production capabilities. These new sequin machines gave GTM the opportunity to offer designs with bling to the cheer, dance and gymnastics apparel. GTM introduced Flexi Print, a revolutionary new print process which allows the design to flex and move with the jersey fabric.
GTM also invested in direct to garment screen printing machines giving the company the opportunity to offer no minimums on custom imprinting. With these new processes in place, GTM is able to give more options to the customer, which helped them stay more competitive in the market.
Employee totals exceed 500 and sales grow to over $43 million.
After a year of consultations and planning, GTM Sportswear launched a redesigned website in April of 2009. The goal of the design was to tie in the new logo and branding efforts. GTM put focus on unique selling points: free shipping and logo set up on orders over $200, affordable pricing, quick delivery, excellent customer service and the ability to cut out the middleman.
In July of 2009, GTM Sportswear opened a store in Lawrence, Kansas. This store carries all of GTM’s high quality customizable products as well as licensed KU gear.
GTM further expanded its customization capabilities with the addition of rhinestones and distressed appliqué. Offered in several sizes, rhinestones quickly became a popular way to add glam to GTM tops, especially for cheer, dance and gymnastics customers. Investment in a Laser Bridge made GTM a leader in creative use of appliqué designs. This top of the line machine allows fabric appliqué edges to remain raw, creating a frayed look with vintage appeal.
GTM hired their very first Outside Sales Representatives to service spirit teams.
GTM launched a fully redeveloped website with an unmatched customization tool that allows customers to embellish items and see their final product prior to making a purchase.
In August of 2011, GTM opened a location in Topeka, Kansas, as a seasonal store dedicated to selling liquidated blank GTM garments. The location was quite successful and remains open today.
Cushion Seats, Inc. was acquired by IMG Worldwide.
GTM continued to expand their wide selection of embellishment options and introduced SequinDOTS, a new heat-transfer sequins embellishment process, to the market as a versatile and lower price alternative to regular sequins and rhinestones.