Framingham printers gear up for Super Bowl victory

Depending on the result of Sunday’s Super Bowl, there are two potential scenarios for business partners and friends Steve Bremner and Paul Bernardi.

Scenario one: The Patriots exact revenge against the Giants for Super Bowl XLII. Bremner and Bernardi do not stick around to watch the confetti fall. Instead, they shoot over to their screen printing shop, Image Graphics, at 59 Fountain St. in Framingham, to pump out more than 3,000 kid-sized Patriots Super Bowl championship T-shirts, working until early Monday morning.

Scenario two: The Patriots lose. The presses stay quiet. And they ship blank white T-shirts to New York.

At Imprint Graphics, started by Bremner and Bernardi 25 years ago, the routine has been the same for every Super Bowl in which the Patriots have played: The boxes of blank T-shirts remain unopened until the final play, and the nervous printers watch the game from their homes — knowing that a Patriots victory means a profit.

But why do they wait until after the game to open the boxes?

“It’s kind of a superstition,” Bernardi said Saturday from the cluttered print shop, his hands splotched with red ink.

Having lived long enough to watch the ebb and flow of New England sports, he knows never to expect a win. Anyway, he said, sports fans are naturally superstitious.

He and Bremner were at the shop prepping the massive octopus-like printing press yesterday to make sure everything is ready to go before the big night.

Bernardi began by adjusting the calibrations for the press’ many squeegees, which move across stencils to imprint the shirt’s design, provided by Reebok. A shirt stops at multiple stencils during the printing process, at each stop receiving a different aspect of the design.

Next, Bernardi added ink to the press. The design calls for three colors — red, blue and silver. The press produces six to eight shirts a minute.

After the first shirt went through, Bremner and Bernardi carefully examined it next to the print information sheet that the distributor — in this case, Reebok — sends them.

They noted places where the colors came out too light or where the design looked skewed. The first shirt was OK. But the metallic silver ink was a bit too thick, Bernardi said, and so the color was off.

Once printed, the shirts run through a giant conveyor. Two people at the end of the conveyor catch the shirts and fold them. Then, another person boxes them.

“The whole thing is like Lucy in the chocolate factory,” Bremner joked.

Bremner and Bernardi work with a six-man crew. And they expect them to arrive at least partially sober. Of course, everyone takes a minute to celebrate before starting the grueling process.

Though he has printed shirts for the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox, Bernardi favors the Super Bowl shirts.

“The nice thing with the Super Bowl is that you can plan ahead,” he said. “That’s not the case with other sports.”

This year’s design, they said, beats out 2008’s. Bremner remembers that year — that loss — well.

“We were ready to go — 19-0 and everything,” he said, his voice sounding notably sullen. “It just didn’t happen.”






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