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FOCUS 2018: Fort Wayne’s Tygeron Screenprinting helps customers design the T-shirts they want

Tyrone Cato, who owns Tygeron Screenprinting with his wife, Melanie, stands next to his T-shirt screen-printing press. Cato got into screen-printing T-shirts as a hobby and has been doing it as a full-time business since fall 1994. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
One wall at Tygeron Screenprinting on Oxford Street features the business' original Tiger logo and examples of some past T-shirts it has printed. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

Tyrone Cato describes himself as a “facilitator,” which may sound odd for the owner of a T-shirt screen-printing business.

But as Cato sees it, he’s not there to design a T-shirt for you. He’s there to help you figure out what you want on the shirt, which can range from uniform shirts for sports teams to T-shirts for family reunions and churches or other organizations.

“I try to get as much input from people as I can,” said Cato, 56, who owns and operates Tygeron Screenprinting with his wife, Melanie.

Tyrone Cato credits the 1984 hit movie “Ghostbusters” with getting him into T-shirt screen printing.

“The ‘Ghostbusters’ logo, I fell in love with it,” he said.

He wanted to see if he could make something like it, so he bought a screen-printing kit. There was more to it than he thought, and he ended up setting the kit aside for a while.

He later came back to it and decided to try it, and he’s been screen-printing T-shirts ever since.

Cato originally did his Tygeron work as a hobby but jumped into it full time in September 1994 after being fired from his job with the Allen County Public Library.

He and friend Ronald Lewis started the business, Cato said. Lewis left in 1999 to pursue a career in art education, and he now is an instructor of animation at University of Saint Francis.

“Everything you were meant or want to do is on the other side of fear,” Cato said of his transition from the library to Tygeron. “I always encourage people to follow your heart, follow your passion.”

Cato said he and Melanie stay busy all year, though screen-printing orders slow a little in January through March, she said.

People often come in with a design idea for the T-shirts they want to order, he said.

“I get sketches on napkins, pieces of paper and all sorts of stuff,” he said.

Some people also have found online programs where they can design what they want, print it out and bring it to him, he added.

Tygeron normally can finish a T-shirt order within a week to 10 days, he said.

Melanie helps when needed with pick up and deliveries, counting, stocking, and some printing and graphic design.

Regular business hours are noon-6 p.m. weekdays, and Cato said he still looks forward to going to work each day.

He likes the creative nature of the work. He also loves talking with and learning from customers.

“It’s just something I really enjoy doing,” he said of his business.

TYGERON SCREENPRINTING

T-shirt screen printing

ADDRESS: 1529 Oxford St.

CONTACT: In person preferred during business hours of noon-6 p.m. weekdays. Also by email at tygeron@aol.com.

OWNERS: Tyrone and Melanie Cato

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