1977. A lot of noteworthy things happened in that year. Jimmy Carter became President of the United States. The Voyager program was launched, giving us absolutely stunning photos of our solar system. Star Wars premiered, making it the highest-grossing movie of the time and kickstarted a fandom that spans the world. Atari, Inc. released its Video Computer System to North America, bringing the arcade right into people’s living rooms.
And on the tail end of a historic economic recession and record-high inflation, Baltimore Glassware Decorators was founded. Now, 45 years later, they are a leader in the decorating industry, offering many of the latest and most innovative techniques available. They also pride themselves on speedy production and budget-friendly options, all while maintaining their commitment to quality and customer service.
I sat down with Brian Sommers, owner of Baltimore Glassware Decorators, to talk about glass decorating and their process for providing their customers with a fast turnaround. Initially starting out as a marketing advisor, Brian has been with the company for about thirteen years now, eventually moving from his position as marketing advisor to owner when the company’s founder asked him to help sell the business so he could retire. Brian told me that as soon as he saw the opportunity, he couldn’t let it pass by – he loved the company and didn’t want to see it fall into another owner’s hands.
Since then, Baltimore Glassware Decorators have increased their employees, production, and profits! When Brian assumed ownership, the company had only around 15 employees – and now they employ over sixty. His focus, he tells me, has been about providing their customers with the best customer service and fastest production times.
And his secret for being able to do that? Digital printing.
We all know how time-consuming silkscreen printing can be. First, you have to make the stencil for each color: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (or black) on special permeable fabric mesh. The printing ink is then applied to the screen, and a squeegee forces the ink through the stencil and onto the drinkware below. Not only is this time-consuming, but it can also be costly too. Minimum order numbers and set up fees can plague the silkscreen process, and that was something that Brian wanted to try and cut out of their process. Check out the video below to see how they do it.
While they do have manufacturers overseas, they also have them in the United States. Because of this, they’re able to have product on hand – avoiding much of the supply chain issues that currently has a hold on the rest of the United States. Brian estimates their turnaround time is about ten days from order, proof, printing, shipping, and delivery. That’s pretty impressive!
When it comes to being green, they’ve also got that covered. No harmful chemicals are used in any of their processes and they make sure to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. They follow FDA guidelines for printing on glassware made for food or beverages, which says no decoration can be within 20mm of the lip and rim of the glass.
As for the company’s future, Brian tells me that they are just going to keep doing what they do best: provide excellent customer service, the highest quality in drinkware, and a swift turnaround time, as well as keeping up with industry trends and the latest in printing technology. It’s exciting to see what Brian and Baltimore Glassware Decorators are doing with their latest technology; we can’t wait to see what process they master next!
If you would like more information on Baltimore Glassware Decorators (SAGE #67013) or to browse through their products and decorating capabilities, you can check out their website here.