Stitch in time

Abe Miller’s grandmother used to use the expression “Your eyes are bigger than your plate” to describe someone who takes on more than they can handle.

This folk wisdom resonates in Miller, who co-owns Graffiti Inc. with his wife, Barb. Miller says it’s important for company owners to take risks, but, “You don’t want to stick your neck out.” “For instance, I rent,” he says. “I could buy a building … but I ask myself, ‘Is that really going to get me more sales?’ Instead of paying a mortgage, I’ve got money for change. There’s a new machine on the market, I buy it. I want to change my Web site, let’s change it.”

This liquidity has allowed the Millers to grow Graffiti, which manufactures embroidered baseball caps and sportswear.

“When you’ve been in business 20 years, you have to keep changing and updating because if you don’t change, you don’t grow,” Barb Miller says. “You can’t be afraid of change. You have to go with it until it works.”

The Millers realized several years ago that by implementing a modular manufacturing system, they could be more efficient.

“The more that we’ve automated, the more people we end up hiring because our quality goes up, delivery is better, sales go up and the company grows,” Abe Miller says. “It takes you places you never dreamed of.”

When Graffiti began to grow, Abe Miller was overwhelmed but embraced change out of necessity.

“When you cut through all your arrogance and you realize you’re only as good as your last order, then you become really flexible really fast,” Abe Miller says.

So what inspires the Millers?

“If you love what you do, it isn’t hard to do,” Barb Miller says. “We worked hard and we have great people with us, and that’s what makes the difference.”

HOW TO REACH: Graffiti Inc., (216) 881-5550 or