owner of ACES Custom Printing & Branding, Tony Prill
Innovation in an Ever-Changing World: ACES Custom Printing & Branding
August 2020 | article & photos by lauren zent
When shopping for a facemask, ACES Custom Printing and Branding may not immediately come to mind. However, when COVID-19 hit, while some companies were shutting down and furloughing employees, ACES, a company with 25 years under its belt, shifted gears, working to protect the Billings community while also keeping their employees working.
"We didn't shut down; we pivoted to what our customers needed," Tony Prill, owner of ACES states. Prill’s background in the medical field and fear of germs shaped his business model in the face of a pandemic. “I didn’t like to touch things,” Prill laughs. He ordered masks back in February, knowing that his community would soon need them. “I ordered 12,000 masks just to get started,” Prill recalls. It took six weeks for those to arrive.
Since then, he has been producing masks with company logos for the Billings community and communities across the nation. Prill established protective measures at his workplace, and his employees embraced those measures. They started creating masks for other companies and working on developing additional protective measures for companies and communities. “We wanted to pay our staff and give them something to do,” Prill adds, regarding mask production. “It helped out during those slow weeks.”
Prill called his professional contacts in various areas of the world and found that masks were necessities in their regions. “In other geographies, if you’re not wearing a mask, people get mad at you,” Prill states. He contacted friends in New Jersey, California, Mexico, and Europe (among others) to find that Montana was unlike many areas where masks were becoming the norm.
He has several mask sizes and styles available for try on and purchase. ACES All-American Mask, made from 100% American grown and sewn cotton, is a popular model for many businesses to embroider their logo. Prill can print a logo on one mask or hundreds at a time in minutes. Additionally, ACES sells neck gaiters and fancier face cover options as well.
“Not a lot of people are into masks, but we need to move in that direction," Prill says. "We have lots of masks. Try them out and see which one you like to wear or how much you want to spend." Prill encourages customers to visit the shop to see which mask works best for them. "Masks are individual."
Along with providing various masks, Prill invented an economical touch-free tool allowing one to push buttons and open doors that is available for purchase at the store. Prill uses his several times daily. ACES first touch-free tool customer was a gaming business; the device allows people to continue playing keno machines without touching them. It can be customized with a logo to be offered by a company.
“If someone must use a finger, the hand sanitizer comes in,” Prill says. Prill acted immediately and ordered as much hand sanitizer as possible and found himself printing labels for companies. "An image can go on anything," Prill notes. He prints labels for businesses to give out complimentary sanitizers as well as for full-size bottles.
It’s important to Prill to keep items economical in a world of price gouging. “Our goal is to keep prices down and give people something they can use,” Prill explains. “We want to give people personal protective tools to protect themselves and others.”
“The world outside,” he adds, “is different now,” and ACES is doing whatever they can to protect Billings (and other communities) in this ever-changing world.