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Under one roof

Maddie Lind joins Optic Ink

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Tim Mapel, left, Chris Staley and Maddie Lind, pose outside of Optic Ink, 1210 First Ave. N. The three have formed a new partnership to provide Fort Dodgers with custom screen printing, embroidery, signs, wraps and decals.

When customers would ask Chris Staley and Tim Mapel at Optic Ink about custom vinyl signs or vehicle wraps, they would direct them to Creative Signs and Graphics, owned by Maddie Lind.

And when Maddie Lind, of Fort Dodge, was asked about custom T-shirts, she would direct them to Optic Ink.

That was until the three of them had the idea to put their services under one roof and one brand.

“We kind of had a good working relationship anyway,” said Staley, manager of Optic Ink. “We had customers ask for vinyl stickers and things like that and we referred them to Maddie for that.”

“And I always sent them apparel,” Lind added.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Buckets of paint sit in the production room of Optic Ink. With a new location and new partnership, the Optic Ink team said they are poised for growth.

So the three of them sat down and realized a partnership made sense. And on Oct. 1, the merger becomes official.

Lind will create her signs and Mapel, of Fort Dodge, and Staley, of Webster City, will manage the apparel side of the business at Optic Ink.

The building is about 6,600 square feet, large enough to accommodate the needs of all of the services.

Optic Ink used to be located at 1210 Central Ave., but in the fall of 2019, the business was moved to a larger space.

“The original shop we started in was a third this size,” Staley said. “Which was fine, but we outgrew it within the month of just starting.”

So Staley and Mapel, with the financial backing of Josh Mason, of Fort Dodge, targeted its current location, just down the road at 1210 First Ave. N. in the old Martin’s Flag Company building.

Renovations on the space began in November. Optic Ink officially opened there on Feb. 3.

“We had to do a lot of work on the inside for electrical and plumbing and building rooms,” Staley said. “Updating everything, making it look like it’s not from the ’40s. It had orange shag carpet on the walls.”

Staley said the previous owners of the building have been in and out to see the progress.

“They love everything we are doing,” Staley said. “When we opened up the walls there was some old artwork in there. A bunch of drawings dated from the 1970s that was all over the walls.”

Staley said the design of the building works well for what they need.

“The layout works perfect for what we need and to grow and expand,” Staley said.

The layout includes a showroom/front lobby, vinyl production area, dark room, screen print production area, office space and a shipping and receiving area.

The Optic Ink design on the front desk and on the outside of the building was completed by Lind.

Mapel and Staley will handle screen printing, embroidery and promotional items like pens and can coolers.

Lind will lead the way with signage and decals for buildings and vehicles.

Lind said the partnership made sense to better meet customer needs.

“That was a big draw for me was teaming up with them and their background experience,” Lind said. “And adding convenience for our customers.”

Mapel said Optic Ink is at a point to expand its business.

“We were printing 1,000-plus shirts a week just out of the gate,” Mapel recalled.

As of last week, Mapel said the business had 25 different screen print jobs lined up.

“We average five jobs a day at 50 to 100 pieces on average,” Mapel said. “That’s our biggest accomplishment is the volume of work we do. We do with four people and we are literally about to easily double that volume and we are only adding one more person.”

Lind said she serves between 20 to 30 customers per week.

“I have vehicles scheduled every day of the month,” she said.

Lind will still be completing orders at her current location, 2101 First Ave. N., through the month of September.

While Optic Ink primarily sells locally, Staley said about 20% is shipped to other areas and states.

The company hopes to go paperless with its processes in the near future.

“We are probably 90 percent paperless,” Staley said.

Staley and Lind both said they like the variety their line of work offers.

“I like that it’s not the same every day,” Staley said. “That’s one reason I’ve stayed. I’ve always been an artsy guy, anyways. The fact that it’s not a monotonous. It’s a new challenge every day but still kind of the same work. I am learning something new every day.”

Mapel said it’s all about the name “Optic.”

“We are a visual business,” Mapel said. “There’s nothing more gratifying to walk down the street and say we did that. We are start to finish, in-house. From the customer interaction through the design process (design separate from art), we work with the customer to create the design they want and from the design into the artwork to the production.”

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