RBS Activewear marks 30 years in business for marketing apparel to schools around the country. Based in Argyle, the company has more than two decades of sales experience in a wide variety of graphics products including: printed and embroidered apparel, digital graphics printed on signs, banners, canvases and auto graphics.
While the 30-year mark technically landed in May. Tina Ritschard said she and her husband Keith, founders of RBS Activewear, have just begun looking back at a rich company history full of changes and growth.
“Keith has been screen printing since he was in college” Tina said. With his initial education coming when he attended Carthage College. Keith continued improving his craft until he decided to start his own business in Argyle in 1987. This marked the start of what was known as Ritschard Bros. Shirt Printing, today known as RBS Activewear.
The company began with Keith printing t-shirts in his college dorm room, eventually moving to a small building on main street in Argyle, where his wife Tina eventually joined in helping with the business. A year later the couple moved to a new location in main street Argyle where they lived and worked adding onto the building twice as the business grew. Tina said 1997 marked the point where the business transitioned out of the old location and into a new building just a couple of blocks away. The Ritschard’s new location offered 13,365 square feet of production space for their business and would allow for additional growth. This allowed RBS to build a steady list of clients through its printed apparel offerings to schools and businesses throughout the Midwest. The late 2000s saw the company expand its offerings to embroidery, digital graphics, lasering, sublimation on hard goods and apparel.
In 2008 production and sales grew enough that an 8,425 square foot addition was added giving a total building size of 21,790 square feet, one of the largest print facilities in Wisconsin. The accommodating space helped push the business into a new chapter, Tina said.
“It was so much better for us, more than we could’ve ever imagined,” Tina said.
The company continued to flourish, expanding with a new location in Monroe, WI in 2013. The new location, Thunder Bridge Signs and Apparel, went further into the design world, offering a full digital graphics store where customers can purchase farm and business signs, banners, canvases, lasered picture frames, as well as several other custom products. In 2015, the Ritschards’ decided to add another location to their growing portfolio of business growth. The new company, Tri-State Apparel, in Galena, IL offers the same lines to businesses in Galena as well as Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa.
Keith said that the reason we are as dominant as we are, is simple - Our 40 plus employees are very skilled at what they do. We hear of so many competitors that deliver goods late and offer poor craftsmanship as well as not standing behind their products. Over the years we have printed for large companies such as Jansport, Walmart, Kohls, and Budweiser, but our main emphasis has always been schools and local businesses. We have been a part of 100’s of conference and state championships throughout our 30 years. The best feeling we get is being able to be a part of people’s lives thru our products whether it is showing school spirit or accomplishments, family reunion t-shirts, a canvas with a family photo on it or a vehicle going down the road with our graphics on it.
To mark the 30-year milestone, RBS is offering monthly specials, 30-year apparel and promotional products for giveaways, and discounts on orders.