April 15, 2016 marks ECI Screen Print Inc.’s 25th Anniversary and we’re proud to say that we’ve come a long way since our humble beginnings in Torrington. It all started back in April of 1991 in an old, abandoned, one room, renovated, 500 sq. ft. corner grocery store, where ECI’s first print was made by founder, Edward F. Cook, Jr. The piece was made by hand from epoxy coated steel as the substrate, with a lavender coral graphic design. The product was used as a counter top store display piece for selling a series of decorative magnetic fish, which were also printed by Cook. The fish were produced by a four color process method and 133 line halftone count, which was very high in the industry at the time. Today, these fish could be easily printed digitally. Back when President Cook first started in the industry, everything had to be done manually and printed by hand. Screens were made out of wood frames while the mesh was made from real silk. The stretching method consisted of pulling manually and stapling the silk to the frame. The first screen printing presses were only just coming about which promoted repeatability and increased accuracy.
When ECI first started, though, the only thing the company was equipped with was a hard work ethic, tireless effort, and a strong industrious aptitude - always doing whatever it took to get the customer excellent quality and whatever they needed, whenever they needed it – no matter what! The first washout sink was built entirely out of plywood and fiberglass. Products were cured with a heat gun. The job required a deep comprehension of the screen printing craft to achieve excellent results, and ECI quickly became known for quality and adaptability that was better than average.
About a year later, ECI formally setup shop in Thomaston where it remained for 23 years on the third floor of the Old Seth Thomas Clock Factory Building. ECI started with only 1,000 sq. ft. but eventually grew throughout the third floor to 13,000 sq. ft. The building was a great place to grow the company and get established – however, there were several problems with dust, heating, and air conditioning which made the work technically challenging due to environmental factors.
Today, ECI Screen Print Inc. has its own, single floor, facility in the Watertown Industrial Park where we have grown tremendously over the course of the year since we have been here. The building – 25,000 sq. feet – leaves much more room for the company to grow. ECI has been continuously updated with the industry’s technology upgrades - evolving as a company to be more efficient, and competing by improving internal know-how, rapid response, and turn-around. ECI has continued to be the holder of one of the best service records in the industry. However, after all the years in business, ECI has kept its most important values at its core – taking pride in our work to provide the best quality and customer service by continually improving our processes and methods. The basic science of the technology hasn’t changed. We have only become more accurate and have refined our processes in numerous ways. As CEO, Edward F. Cook, Jr. says, “Technology changes, and keeps moving faster, always finding more efficient ways to get things done, but without a strong work ethic, no technology can replace the human will and desire to do a great job.”
For the past twenty-five years, ECI has been able to thrive in the industry due to a tireless work ethic from its dedicated staff that focuses on its service to the customers and bring their top game to ECI every day. "I am not ECI. I only founded the company with an idea a long time ago. The team collectively is ECI and ECI's reputation is based on how well they have all performed their jobs each and every day." Happy 25th Anniversary, ECI!