“No, that’s my brother” is a phrase Zach and Alex Traxler find themselves saying often – often enough that it required a website and an explanation. That’s what happens when you’re identical twins with two separate, thriving businesses.
Let’s just clear this up right away: Zach is in the apparel business as the founder of Traxler Custom Printing. Alex is in the business of fabrication as creator of Griffen Hollow Studio. After many a Facebook message, a few awkward stare downs at the grocery store, and at least one encounter that involved a drivers license to, in fact, prove they are two separate people, TraxlerBrothers.com was hatched.
“We created TraxlerBrothers.com as kind of a clear and concise place to send people,” Zach says.
The website is pretty straightforward, apparel vs. fabrication, and aims to make sure people are directed to the correct brother. Once the correct brother is identified, and the realization made there are two, Alex says many people are often surprised then impressed at the twinpreneurship.
Maker runs in the family though, as Zach recently shared on the Columbus Chamber’s cbuzz podcast. Zach would pick up his knack for screen printing from dad, while grandpa was a craftsman, influencing Alex’s path (as did a wooden tie from his wife).
In this story of twinpreneurship, many things are the same. Both brothers tried college, finding it not be the route for them, and dabbled in other industries before pursuing entrepreneurship. Traxler Custom Printing would come first in 2010 with Griffen Hollow Studio following in 2012.
While the two have never directly collaborated on a project, as their businesses grow they find that they have worked with many of the same organizations, sometimes without even know it. Their increasingly overlapping client base includes local businesses like North High Brewing, Elevator Brewing, CD102.5 and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.
Both businesses share many of the same philosophies as well. Disrupting industries and giving back are themes apparent at Traxler Custom Printing and Griffen Hollow.
“Our focus for the remainder of 2016 is to help as many organizations and nonprofits as possible through decreasing our margins to increase their margins through fundraising,” Zach says.
That never comes at the cost of cutting corners, though. The print shop aims for a retail finish on everything that goes out the door, increasing a garment’s wearability meaning more impressions and a better ROI.
“People think I’m crazy that I’m not in this business to get rich, I’m in this business to disrupt our industry and show everyone that the margins are kind of made up,” Zach says.
Griffen Hollow gives back through donating a portion of sales during certain seasons to select organizations. The studio will also create branded products to donate to auctions and sales.
For Alex, disrupting meant hitting on the now-popular trend of upcycling and reusing scrap and materials early in the game.
“When I created Griffen Hollow Studio, I’d seen some things like what I was doing or what I set out to do, but kind of hit and created our own niche,” he says.
The coming years look to only further carve each brothers’ name in their respective industries.
“We’ve definitely settled, I think, into the direction that we are going to continue on into the future,” Alex says. “We’ve settled into a more manufacturing route with some major clients. That is kind of the bread and butter of what allows us to do all the creative, fun stuff.”
All the creative, fun stuff means projects like making the beer tokens for Independents’ Day and working with Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission on gifts for visitors. Alex enjoys working with the city on projects that show outsiders just what Columbus has to offer.
“It’s a major branding city, it’s got impact on what rest of the United States does as far as trends,” he says. “I think that goes unnoticed.”
The studio has grown to three full-time employees with a handful of contractors to take on projects as workload increases. They’ve also graduated to a larger space – Traxler Custom Printing’s former space at 4608 Indianola Ave Ste E.
Zach and the print shop’s move to 3029 Silver Dr. was a pivotal time in the business.
“Growing into this space we just went heads down and tried to pushed through expanding everything could, which wasn’t a healthy maneuver,” he says. “We learned a lot from that. We expanded too fast. As a result we have kind of stepped back from expanding things and focused on fine-tuning, becoming as lean as possible.”
All of Traxler Custom Printing’s executives have gone through process improvement training Six Sigma. Becoming more lean has also meant fine-tuning their list of services. They have outsourced services like embroidery, vehicle wraps and paper printing to other local businesses that are more efficient at the processes.
“It’s not to limit what offer internally, but to become better and higher quality at what do internally,” Zach says.
Traxler Custom Printing is also exploring taking on its first-ever equity investors to replace old technology. Zach says the shop is ahead of the technology curve in most areas, but not all. He has his sights on a dye-sublimation printer – which would be the only one in Central Ohio.
For more information on Traxler Customer Printing, click here.
For more information on Griffen Hollow Studio, click here.