Bill Windsor Sold His Publishing and Trade Show Companies in 1981

business 1979 wci Bill in his IMPRESSIONS jacket 1979

In 1981, Don Gandy asked to have dinner with William M. Windsor.  Don was the CEO of a company that was acquiring businesses in the imprinted sportswear industry.

At Alaman’s¬†Mexican restaurant in Dallas, Don wrote something on a little piece of paper and put it in the center of the table.¬† He told me to take the paper and look at it ONLY if I was interested in selling my imprinted sportswear magazines, trade shows, and conferences.

I had never thought about selling.  I had never considered what the business might be worth.  We were doing $6 million in revenues at the time.

I asked how many zeros were after the range of numbers written on the paper.  I decided I was interested in selling.

Rather than sell to Don Gandy, I hired a publishing consultant, Mark Schrimpf, to do a valuation and seek buyers.  Three large U.S. publishing companies were interested, and I sold to Gralla Publications in October 1981.

I retired.  That lasted for less than a year.

 

Bill Windsor Launched Another Trade Show and Conference in 1979

 

business 1979 wci Dallas Convention Center during set up of I
business 1979 wci Dallas Convention Center during set up of I

The second annual Imprinted Sportswear Show was held in January 1979 at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.  Each show was set up as a separate corporate entity.  Business #14.

business 1978 wci Staff of Windsor at January 1979 Imprinted
business 1978 wci Staff of Windsor at January 1979 Imprinted

The second show was twice the size of the first show.  The business grew from no employees to 10 employees in six months.

Several Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders made a special appearance at the Second Imprinted Sportswear Show.

William M Windsor Started a Trade Show Company in 1978

William M Windsor Started a Trade Show Company in 1978.

In 1978, William M. Windsor launched the Imprinted Sportswear Shows for the “imprinted sportswear industry.”¬† He founded Windsor Presentations to own the first trade show.¬† Business #13.

After a year in Dallas working out of a desk in the corner of the master bedroom in a small apartment, Bill opened an office in the Dallas Petroleum Center.

First office for Windsor Communications
First office for Windsor Communications

The office was for both Windsor Communications and Windsor Presentations.

Reception area at Dallas Petroleum Center
Reception area at Dallas Petroleum Center

Bill hired a receptionist. She was quickly promoted to editor of IMPRESSIONS Magazine.  The first event produced by Windsor Presentations was a huge success, so the business was moved to a much larger office.  Within a year, the staff grew from one to 17.

Bill Windsor Created Shirtcans – a Paint-Your-own T-shirt

Bill Windsor Created Shirtcans – a Paint-Your-own T-shirt.

After a trip to Atlanta where Bill Windsor saw hand-painted T-shirts in boutiques in Buckhead, he came up with the idea of a do-it-yourself hand-painted T-shirt.¬† He wanted a catchy name, and ShirtCans was born. “You wear what we can.”

Bill Windsor invented ShirtCans in1976
Bill Windsor invented ShirtCans in1976

A variety of designs were offered.  Each can contained a white T-shirt printed with a black outline design, four acrylic fabric paints, a paintbrush, and instructions.  After a test at local K-Mart stores, Bill flew to New York and wore out the soles on a pair of shoes walking all over town to make sales calls on apparel buyers.  Then he flew to Chicago where he received a large test order from Sears.

Bill returned to Orlando very excited, and he opened a manufacturing facility at 119 W. Kaley Boulevard in Orlando.  Business #10.

1976 ShirtCans ad
1976 ShirtCans ad

In addition to manufacturing and distributing ShirtcCans to retail chains, the product was also offered to the advertising specialty industry and to premium companies.

Rich Sarver was a very talented artist who did all the art for ShirtCans
Rich Sarver was a very talented artist who did all the art for ShirtCans

Rich Sarver was the talented artist who created the designs for the ShirtCans and the labels and promotional material.  Incredibly talented!

Bill Windsor Launched a Company to Distribute Products to the Advertising Specialty Industry

After several years as a retailer, screen printer, and manufacturer, Bill Windsor launched a company to distribute apparel products to the advertising specialty industry.  The business was called The Shirt Tale.  Business #11.

The Shirt Tale brochure 1976
The Shirt Tale brochure 1976

The Shirt Tale had beautiful catalogs to promote its line of imprinted sportswear, heat transfers, and related products.

How to Sell T-shirts book 1976
How to Sell T-shirts book 1976

Bill Windsor published a book titled “How To Sell T-shirts.”

ShirtCan distributor Robert Grant with Bill Windsor in Brussels Belgium
ShirtCan distributor Robert Grant with Bill Windsor in Brussels Belgium

Bill and Barbara began exhibiting at advertising specialty trade shows.

Bill met people like Robert Grant, who signed a contract to distribute Bill’s products in Belgium and France.

 

 

The Wear-House expanded to a 6,000-square-foot store in Winter Park, Florida.

New location of The Wear-House on 17 -92 in Orlando
New location of The Wear-House on 17 -92 in Orlando

Bill divided the 6,000-square-foot space into a 4,000-square-foot retail space, a 1,500-square-foot screen printing shop, and a 500-square-foot office.

It was a big freestanding building on Highway 17-92 in Winter Park, just South of Fairbanks Avenue.

 

1976 Wear-House staff opening party
1976 Wear-House staff opening party

The Wear-House staff at the grand opening party.

Wear-House view from McDonalds of early days in 1976
Wear-House view from McDonalds of early days in 1976

The building was located right next door to McDonald’s.

Bill decided he should try to attract the customers from McDonald’s.¬† He cut a window and door to the McDonald’s parking lot, but it appeared to be tiny on the 120-foot long building.

So, Bill had Rich Sarver create some cartoon characters wearing imprinted sportswear.

Mural drawing on side of The Wear-House
Mural drawing on side of The Wear-House

The characters were 10-feet tall, but the mural still seemed really small.

More mural work on The Wear-House 1976
More mural work on The Wear-House 1976

Bill had Rich Sarver continue to create characters.¬† Rich painted the outline of the art on the wall, and people were invited to come paint.¬† When it was done, the 120-foot x 10-foot mural became the World’s Largest Cartoon Mural.¬† And most of the customers for The Wear-House came in from the door next to McDonald’s parking lot.

Bill Windsor Built an Advertising Specialties Business in Orlando Florida

After a year off the busy Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, Bill was able to convince wealthy orange grove owner and real estate owner, Jerry Chicone, to rent him a 1,600-square-foot store at 435 Park Avenue South.  The impact was a huge increase in retail sales.

With this move, Bill acquired an advertising specialties business from Tom Bonneville and expanded it into a retail operation.  Bill sold over 100,000 items that could be personalized for businesses, clubs, and more.  Business #9.

Bill’s biggest advertising specialties client was Disney.¬† Bill sold all of the Do Not Disturb signs and shower caps used in the original hotels at Walt Disney World.

To expand on Park Avenue, Bill needed some money.  With the support of dear old Dad, Bill borrowed $10,000 from Sun First National Bank.  He did manage to repay it.

A fabulous cartoonist, West Reid, did the artwork for The Wear-House.

The business had a number of products that schools could sell for fundraising projects.


 

1972 Wear-House - Bill Windsor with display of rings
1972 Wear-House – Bill Windsor with a display of rings

Bill Windsor

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Bill Windsors 7th Business was a Screen Printing Plant

Bill Windsors 7th Business was a Screen Printing Plant.

A year after opening The Wear-House in Winter Park, Florida, Bill Windsor opened The Graphics House.  The Graphics House was a screen printing plant.  Business #8.

The Graphics House did screen printing on T-shirts and other garments.  I taught myself to screen print using a kit and a book bought from Tubelite.  I quickly realized that it was not something I could do well, so I found a local guy who was a pro.  He managed the shop.

We expanded into decals, bumper stickers, signs, and more.  We even had Disney as an account for our Mickey Mouse clubs Рgolf drivers with a Mickey Mouse decal.

 

Bill Windsor opened a store in Winter Park Florida named The Wear-House

When Bill Windsor and Barbara moved to Florida from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Bill Windsor opened a store in Winter Park Florida named The Wear-House.  Business #7.

1972 Wear-House - Bill Windsor with display of rings
1972 Wear-House – Bill Windsor with display of rings

The Wear-House was an expanded version of the retail store he opened as a college student at Texas Tech.

Bill and Barbara sold a full line of fraternity and sorority merchandise, but they also had a heat transfer machine and sold imprinted T-shirts, customized while the customer was there.

Barbara Windsor at check out counter at The Wear-House in 1972
Barbara Windsor at Barbara Windsor at check out counter at The Wear-House in 1972

We didn’t have much money, so our decor consisted of free pickle barrels and orange crates obtained from local restaurants and fruit stands.¬† The wall decor was for sale.¬† We didn’t have a good location, just off busy Park Avenue.¬† We survived because I was selling to fraternities¬†and sororities all over Central Florida.