When Milledgeville native Bennie Huff was a student at Baldwin High School, he was known for his knack for art. Little did he know then that his talents would eventually lead him to a thriving business in T-shirt design and screen printing.
Huff and his friend, Malcolm May, are co-owners of T-Shirts to Go, and they take pride in providing quality and customized service to their customers, both local and farther away.
“If you want something totally, specially for you, we can cater to that,” said Huff.
Much of T-Shirts to Go’s business comes from word of mouth and the many personal connections that Huff and May have developed over the years. May has been in the T-shirt business for more than 15 years and as he wanted to take on more business, he knew he needed someone to help with the design aspect of the work. He brought on Huff about 10 years ago, and the two have worked together ever since.
“I pretty much touch everything that comes into the shop,” said Huff, the self-described “man with the art” at T-Shirts to Go. “I have to figure out how we’re going to do the job.”
While Huff plays a more behind-the-scenes role designing logos and making clients’ wishes come to life, he describes May as the “to-go” man in the name of the business. May spends his days traveling around and getting T-shirts and other supplies, making connections to secure more jobs, and delivering the finished products to the customers.
Huff is quick to emphasize the correlation between the growth of the business and the addition of members to their team. In the last few years, Huff and May have brought on several people to help them run their business in the most efficient manner possible, allowing them to increase their weekly output and still provide quality work in a timely manner.
“We have a good turnaround time. You give us five to seven days, and we’ll make it happen,” said Huff.
The expansion of the business has included the addition of a storefront location in Milledgeville where customers can place orders. Reginald Middlebrooks handles the daily in-store interactions with the customers. The other team members, Dontavious Brantley and Billy Burkes, help Huff with the printing process as well as the preparation and recycling of the screens at T-Shirts to Go’s warehouse in Jones County.
Said Huff, “That’s where all the magic happens.”
That magic includes screen-printing T-shirts and other apparel as well as doing work with vinyl and heat press. T-Shirts to Go can service orders as small as about 25 pieces and as large as hundreds of pieces in one order. One upgrade that the co-owners hope to make soon is the addition of a direct to garment (DTG) machine that will allow them to take any order, no matter how small, by eliminating the need for developing a separate screen for each print order. Prices for the DTG have come down significantly in recent years, and Huff and May hope to be purchasing and setting theirs up soon.
“That’s the new technology in the game right now,” said Huff of the of the DTG machine. “It opens up business a little more,” he added, due to the efficiency of the printing process that the machine will allow for smaller orders.
When it all comes down to it, Huff credits the success of the business to the team he and May have put into place in recent years. In addition to their regular staff members, Huff and May have extra help they can call upon during particularly busy times, such as high school homecoming season in the fall. T-Shirts to Go fills such orders for several local schools, and even services schools in greater Atlanta.
“We print for schools I’ve never even heard of,” jokes Huff.
Huff takes pride in his team, giving the business a familial feel.
“Me and Malcolm, we’re responsible for the rest of those guys and their check for that week. I enjoy that. It’s more than a job.”
As for himself, Huff has found joy in channeling a talent and hobby from his youth into something that pays his own bills.
“I’m able to provide for my kids through something I love to do,” said Huff. “You can’t beat that.”