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T.J. Loudis started T.J. Sales Co. Inc. in 1978, while he was a student at Missouri State University.
T.J. Loudis started T.J. Sales Co. Inc. in 1978, while he was a student at Missouri State University.

T.J. Sales Co. closes amid foreclosure

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For a final time, Timothy J. Loudis closed up shop at T.J. Sales Co. Inc. on Nov. 13. The 31-year old screen-printing business was foreclosed on two weeks earlier, and Loudis was forced to turn over the keys and equipment to lender Guaranty Bank.

T.J. Sales Co. sold screen-printed clothing, including T-shirts, sportswear and jackets, out of 545 S. Union Ave. in the Cherry Street Industrial Park. Loudis started the company in his apartment when he was 19 years old.

According to Greene County records, the property was purchased by Guaranty Bank for $494,316 at an Oct. 30 trustee's sale. The contents inside the building, such as screen-print presses, art room equipment, gas dryers for curing shirts, and office equipment also were part of the foreclosure, Loudis said.

Guaranty Bank officials and their attorney, Gary Bishop of Mann, Walter, Bishop & Sherman PC, declined to comment.

Loudis said a combination of the current economy and lack of bank funding caused the 10-employee business to go under.

"The economy trickles down. There are outside costs such as insurance, benefit packages, taxes, utilities," he said.

Michele Kiser, president of Advertising Plus Inc., which sells screen-print clothing and hard goods, said the increasing cost of doing business is one of the challenges promotional product companies are facing.

"The cost of all supplies have gone up," she said.

Another challenge, Kiser noted, is increased competition in the T-shirt business. She's noticed more small shops setting up businesses, possibly lured by the success of bigger businesses. Small-scale equipment to print T-shirts can be set up in someone's home and startup costs are relatively small, she noted.

"You could probably invest $5,000 to $10,000 and be self-employed," Kiser said.

It may look appealing, but it also takes a lot of hard work for a promotional products business to be successful, she said, noting Advertising Plus also sells hard goods such as pens and magnets to contribute to the bottom line. T.J. Sales focused on clothing items.

Loudis declined to provide sales figures, but said the company did not go out of business because of decreased sales.

"(The closing of the business) was not tied to lagging sales, because we knew we had to work harder to get sales," he said. "We were able to sustain (those numbers)."

Kelly Ross, executive director for Lake Country Soccer in Springfield, said the nonprofit had been a customer of T.J. Sales for 25 years. He said other companies were never considered when the group purchased T-shirts for leagues, instructional programs and special events.

"We always went straight to T.J. He delivered our products when we needed the products delivered," Ross said.

However, by midyear, Loudis said the business was struggling and he began to shop for buyers or merger possibilities.

"In mid-August, we started putting together concepts for survival," he said, adding that some companies expressed interest, but he was unable to put together a deal.

Loudis said he began applying for bank loans more than a year ago, but his applications were rejected.

"In times like these, it's tough to survive, and it's tough to find people to take over because of their economic situations," he said.

Loudis said he's not planning on opening another business anytime soon; his immediate concern is finding a job.

As for the business, he said, "The bank owns the building and business. What they intend to do with it is under their control."[[In-content Ad]]

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