Jane Thorngren and Gail Yenny have been part of the Grand Island business community for 40 years. You might know them better as the minds behind T-Shirt Engineers, which has provided Grand Island and central Nebraska with custom printing and signs since it opened in 1981.
“There’s not much we don’t do,” Thorngren said. “We screenprint, we embroider, we do digital printing, we do small signs, truck lettering, stickers, banners, posters —”
“— vehicle lettering of all sorts, window decoration,” Yenny added. “The list just goes on and on.”
Both Thorngren and Yenny were teachers before opening up T-Shirt Engineers. The idea for the business was inspired by the difficulty Yenny encountered while trying to obtain quality printing work for her school teams.
“So, she always (said) ‘I can do this better,’ and so we did,” Thorngren said.
The business began by just offering screen printing services, and has since expanded to provide custom printing services for just about everything under the sun, including promotional items and big display trade-show setups.
“If somebody’s looking for something printed, and they don’t know if we do it or not, just give us a buzz,” Thorngren said. “We’ll let you know if we do, and chances are we do. And if we don’t, we know where to get it done.”
T-Shirt Engineers can also accommodate orders large and small alike.
“We do a lot of one-offs, because we got into direct-to-garment digital printing, which allows us to do one shirt at a time,” Yenny said. “So if somebody needs a gift, a birthday gift or a funny shirt for Father’s Day, we can do that.”
The pandemic had an immediate effect on T-Shirt Engineers, because many of the summer leagues and events the company supplies were postponed or canceled, Yenny said.
“We did receive the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money, and that did help us keep going and everyone stay employed,” Thorngren said. “We never laid anyone off.”
It was important to both of them that T-Shirt Engineers be involved in fostering a sense of community, and that the business would give back to Grand Island. Thorngren further added that the business continues to support the Grand Island community through its staff and ownership’s volunteer efforts.
“We have always donated back to our community,” Thorngren said. “That’s why it’s so important to shop local because we need to keep our local businesses going so that we can have the involvement of the people who really know about your organization, (so that) they can still be a donor and supporter.”
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