Non-Traditional SBE's: Printing and Engraving

Oct 28, 2022

Insight Into Some of DECA’s Unconventional School-based Enterprises

A school-based enterprise (SBE) is an entrepreneurial venture within the school setting that operates like a small business. Students are actively engaged in designing, organizing and managing the enterprise's day-to-day operations, with support from school personnel. Many DECA chapters have a school-based enterprise, and we wanted to highlight a few unique SBEs that have emerged due to a particular product or service demand in their school or community. These two non-traditional SBEs are gold-certified through DECA's School-based Enterprise Chapter Certification Program.

Henry M. Jackson DECA

Contributed by Daniel Mills, DECA advisor | Henry M. Jackson DECA, WA

Paw Print Laser Engraving is the retail SBE for Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, WA. A few years ago, the school district approached the advisor, Mr. Daniel Mills, with the opportunity to start a new SBE. After researching options, Mr. Mills chose laser engraving because it is straightforward from an operations perspective. Unlike other options, laser engraving does not have consumables like inks for printing or thread for embroidery. With this technology, students can learn and practice practical skills like project management, purchasing, pricing and promotion. We also learn how to use job-ready tools like Adobe Illustrator. Each student can lean into one of the areas they are most interested in, but everyone has a chance to work on the technology.

We have produced a number of products that we sell in our student store and have done several projects for school districts and local businesses. For example, we have engraved little granite slabs to serve as awards for finishing the Plain 100, a 100-mile ultra-marathon in our state. The district also hired us to make 2,500 leather keychains with engraving on both sides. This was one of the largest projects we did so we had the other DECA classes help with the production. We've also done a lot of insulated bottles and drinkware for teams, clubs and businesses. The engraver can precisely cut certain materials so that we can make things like holiday decorations, signage and awards. We work with other clubs and CTSOs in our school on fundraising opportunities to benefit each club. It is an excellent SBE because it combines cool tech, some work and a lot of fun.

Leavenworth DECA

Contributed by Liz Anstine, DECA advisor | Leavenworth High School, KS

Pete’s Print and Stitch is a retail SBE for Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth, KS. The first market of the SBE is Pete’s Place, a retail apparel and accessories shop located in the cafeteria of the school. Another key market for the SBE is school clubs, sports teams and other student organizations looking for custom items such as team shirts or uniforms. These groups also use the SBE to create items for fundraising purposes. Finally, it also includes local small businesses in the community that need customized items for their employees or resale.

Custom designs at Pete’s Print and Stitch are endless. Some of the most popular items range from shirts, hoodies, pajama pants, windbreakers and sherpas to a variety of novelty items such as mugs, pop sockets, phone cases and beanies. The students built this business from the ground up, developing real-life business management skills through experiences in product creation, leadership, organization management, problem-solving, critical and timely communication, cost accounting, marketing and advertising and teamwork.

During the early years of COVID-19, our suppliers had difficulty staying open due to social distancing guidelines in the workplace. Some of our suppliers closed for extended periods, so we decided we would learn how to design and print our own apparel and accessories. We began three years ago by writing a grant to purchase a vinyl cutter, and today we are operating a stand-alone SBE providing professional quality custom products and services using a variety of mediums and technologies. These mediums include permanent adhesive vinyl, heat press vinyl, removable adhesive vinyl, heat transfer, sublimation, PVC banner material, embroidery, personalized stickers, rhinestoning and more.

We are currently working on a proposal to increase the shop's footprint so we have room for a fifth heat press, a four-shirt screen printing machine and an area for screen washing. We are also hoping to create a maker space so more students in the school will have an opportunity to come into the business lab and learn how to make a personal item of choice. We are also looking forward to holding a grand opening this fall since COVID has kept us from doing so until now. We are excited to be planning to host the chamber of commerce and other local business leaders at our grand opening because we want the community to meet the student managers and learn about the opportunities to order professional quality custom apparel and accessories.


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