Old Mowers and Scorched Cooking Pans
If you stop by our offices, you’ll see very little to suggest that we got our start in a crowded garage 25 years ago. What began as a second career for a Central Texas tire engineer has progressively grown into a full-service promotional and apparel company that not only has screen-printing and embroidery capabilities, but also offers editorial and design services and custom 3-D product manufacturing.
Of course, some things never change. We still have printing ink stuck under our fingernails, and we probably will from now on. But that’s okay, because it reminds us that we haven’t lost our willingness to get our hands dirty. And even though our current manufacturing and warehouse facility is the size of Cowboy’s Stadium compared to that tiny little garage, we still never seem to have enough room to work. Except now we’re squeezing between mountainous stacks of shirts, tote bags, and jackets waiting to be imprinted instead of tripping over that old grass-stained lawnmower.
In 1986, Homer Dale Cox left General Tire because he was, to put it succinctly, tired of messing with tires. Looking for a fresh start, he and his wife, Marj, attended a few small business classes, bought some screen-printing equipment, and took a huge leap of faith. But with its commitment to creative design work, exceptional customer service, and impeccable quality, the business soon outgrew the confines of the Coxes’ garage.
After outgrowing a second and third location over the next two decades, QTI was acquired in July 2011 by WRS Group, Ltd., another Waco-based company with a remarkably similar backstory. Instead of being born in a garage, WRS got its start in the kitchen of an innovative young doctor named Wayman Spence, eventually growing into one of the most recognized health education companies in the world.
In the mid-1960s, Dr. Spence was looking for ways to prevent bedsores, which led him to develop a unique polymer gel that he used to make friction-reducing bed pads. Formulating the original gel mixture in his kitchen, Dr. Spence burned up several of his wife’s good cooking pans in the process.
He was also one of the early pioneers in the anti-smoking movement, and in 1969 Dr. Spence designed an ashtray with a pair of transparent lungs mounted on top of it. One of the lungs was hollow, so that when a lit cigarette was left in the tray, the smoke filtered through the lung and left behind a sticky brown deposit of tar, cleverly demonstrating to smokers what they were doing to their own lungs. It wasn’t long after the Lung Ashtray went into production that it was getting national attention, especially after an anti-smoking advocacy group sent the ashtrays to every member of Congress.
Dr. Spence and his new company branched out into subjects such as alcohol, drugs, reproductive health, and cancer awareness. Today, WRS Group’s product line features 1,700 different items, the majority of which are designed and built right here in Waco.
With the merger of these two companies, QTI Promotions & Apparel still continues to offer high-quality imprinted products and clothing, but it now has the ability to create full-fledged promotional campaigns. Our newly forged team of product designers, artists, copywriters, mold makers, and production staff are poised to turn your next great idea into a one-of-a-kind promotional tool, whether it’s a simple T-shirt or a multi-piece marketing kit complete with glossy brochures and custom bobblehead dolls.