Contrary to the company timeline below, the story of Underground Printing really started in 1992. That’s when UGP co-founders Rishi Narayan and Ryan Gregg met in 6th grade. Hundreds of pickup basketball games and several broken eyeglasses later, they became best friends, paving the way for the creation of the Underground Printing we know now.
After high school, Ryan and Rishi both ended up at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where engineering classes didn’t really hold their attention. Ryan’s dorm room loft building company gave the duo some small business experience – both good and bad! Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, they kept searching for a longer-term business venture.
A series of car “troubles” experienced by Rishi and his beloved Ford Probe GT led to a chance encounter with a tow truck driver who used to dabble in screenprinting in a former life. Thinking back to all the custom t-shirts they created in high school for the wide variety of student organizations they were involved in, R&R felt like this was something they could identify with and do well. They decided on the name of A-1 Screenprinting – so they could be the first in the phone book (Click here to find out what a phone book is).
Ryan and Rishi purchased a very basic screenprinting setup, but still had one issue: Where would they produce their shirts? They were pretty sure they couldn’t sneak it all into their dorm room. But after some gentle persuading and reassuring, they convinced the now-infamous tow truck driver to let them set up shop in his garage, next to a broken-down Chevy and two golden retrievers who lovingly shared their hair with anything they touched.
Even with this minimalist production facility, A-1 Screenprinting really took off. Ryan and Rishi’s approach to customer service on a college campus really set them apart. Their ability to cater to their core college customer and willingness to meet their customers anywhere and at anytime was the driving force behind growth.
Several years later, A-1 Screenprinting purchased another local screenprinter named Underground Printing to expand their production capabilities – and changed their name to something more relevant! Even now, UGP prides itself on its investment into manufacturing and technology.
The same characteristics that set us apart then are the reason we are one of the nation’s premier custom apparel providers now: an emphasis on customer service, quality, and convenience. We hope that continuing to concentrate on these things will take us to the next level in the future. Now if only the Ford Probe could have fared as well…