Started in 1983, Screen Designs keeps growing
Company offers host of services
March 31, 2017
Manny Contompasis, owner of Screen Designs on Central Avenue in Colonie, is pictured in the show room area.
PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER
They’re graphic designers, marketing partners and brand builders. And sometimes, they dabble in hosting house concerts.
The team at Screen Designs Inc. may focus on the day-to-day operations of screen printing, embroidery work and promotional items, but that doesn’t quite capture the scope of the operation.
At least not anymore.
Manny Contompasis, owner of Screen Designs Inc., said his business has grown incredibly since his start in 1983, both in services offered and in the amount of work they’ve taken on.
Within the 5,000-square-foot shop, graphic designers create logos or work with clients to create designs around specific events and screen printers use silkscreen machinery or embroidery machinery to produce t-shirts, hats, signs and other promotional items.
On average, they can produce between 7,000 and 8,000 pieces a day, depending on the design.
Screen Designs used to have busy seasons and slower seasons throughout the year, depending on the season. Now, it’s a constant stream.
“It’s getting less and less of a peak and more just steady [business],” Contompasis said. He’s been working in textiles for more than 35 years, starting out with his cousin’s textile mill in Cohoes in the 1970s.
“He taught me everything I know about textiles,” Contompasis said of Charles Contompasis, who now runs MA + CH (formerly Markia and Charles) in Schenectady.
Throughout his college years, Manny Contompasis was making t-shirts for people in the community -- mainly local sports teams and small business events.
By the time he graduated, he already had the experience and local ties he needed to start Screen Designs in 1983. He started in Cohoes before expanding the business into Schenectady. Needing to expand again, he moved the business to his current location at 2009 Central Avenue in Colonie.
Now, he’s looking to expand again.
“Every inch has been taken up here ... we’re in a sardine can,” Contompasis joked. He’s rented an annex parcel not far from the current location so he’ll be able to move some of the silk screening machinery over there and free up some space in the 2009 Central Ave location.
From Druther’s to the Ellis Hospital Cardiac Run, the company’s screen printing work is well-known across the Capital Region.
Screen Designs also works with large national companies like Subway, Tough Traveler and General Electric.
“I see our shirts all over the country,” Contompasis said.
When Subway rebranded and was running the “Eat Fresh” campaign, Screen Designs produced the majority of the uniforms (including t-shirts and hats) for the company. Beyond textile work, the company works with clients to produce promotional items, such as pens, cutting boards, coffee cups, and others.
According to Contompasis, having good quality giveaways helps his clients’ customers to keep the client top of mind. It also makes customers associate the client with a positive image. An image that Screen Designs can also create for their clients.
“It’s a science and an art,” said Mark Maguire, one of the company’s graphic designers, who also runs the social media accounts.
Maguire and Jerry Mattes, another graphic designer, work with small companies to come up with designs for their logos or for special company events.
Last year, they worked to create the logo for Anna’s Wood Fired Pizza Company. Owners John and Katrina Isopo walked into Screen Designs with a passport and a new business idea and came away with the logo that’s on everything from the company’s t-shirts to their pizza boxes.
But the marketing partnership doesn’t end there.
Maguire promotes local companies and Screen Designs Inc. through the company’s Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes he will post only the work that Screen Designs has done for the client, other times he will post about any exciting news the clients might have.
For smaller companies, this promotion and help with design can make a huge difference.
“Instead of going to the big guys to spend thousands designing your logo and whatever else you need, we can help you do that here,” Maguire said.
A few months ago, they got into another type of promoting altogether. They hosted a house concert. “We had Sean Rowe play here,” Maguire said.
Rowe, a Troy native, is an alternative singer-songwriter who started out playing roadhouses and bars across the country before finding success with Collar City Records and ANTI Records. “I saw that he was looking for a venue to play while he was in the area again and so I called Manny [Contompasis] and asked if we could do it,” Maguire said.
A few representatives from Brown’s Brewing came with new samples, AMA Cosina brought some appetizers and about 35 people squeezed into the shop for an intimate concert.
“Sean even said it was one of the best places he’s played acoustically,” Maguire said. In between sets, one of the owners of Brown’s spoke with Rowe and asked him to come play at the brewery.
“That’s what we do ... we’re our own social network because of our big clientele,” Maguire said.
After the success of that first event and with the extra space, Maguire and Contompasis are considering hosting similar events on the premises.
From t-shirts to house concerts, Screen Designs’ work extends beyond textiles. Contompasis said that the only way Screen Designs has been able to nourish its local ties and simultaneously work with national brands is because of the skill and dedication of his team and their dedication to quality. “Many of our business relationships are or turn into friendships,” Contompasis said.
With local radio station EQX playing in the background, Jerry Mattes worked on a design for a local marina. He created two cartoon characters for the company’s redesigned look. Half a dozen people were using silk screening machines to finish an order of shirts for a local community run, while several other workers were packaging an order and racing to get it out on time and Contompasis was juggling phone calls
Just another day in the local brand building business of Screen Designs Inc.