Retailers weren't interested in Adam Lando's designs, but they like the logos

Retailers werent interested in Landos clothing designs, but they liked his printing prowess

Adam Lando, 28

Founder + CEO, Dads Printing

Life Story: His latest business started with a failure of sorts, but Adam Lando is used to adversity. Lando, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, found high school and a brief stint at college difficult. “I did the best when I was passionate about what I was doing,” says the Vancouverite, whose family has deep roots in his hometown. “Seeing what I was doing grow was something that made me buy into it.”

In his late teens, Lando used $150 to start selling snapback hats via Facebook, later distributing them from a suitcase at a coffee shop. He then launched clothing company WTFWear, covering its garments with outlandish prints. Pitching stores went nowhere. “They didn’t like the designs at all—no one bought anything,” Lando recalls. But when retailers began asking for clothes bearing their logos, he pivoted by founding Dad’s Printing, named for what he and his friends used to call each other as a joke, in 2016.

Besides producing custom apparel and promotional products for companies, Lando created several business-to-consumer brands, one of which now does a brisk trade printing pet photos on socks. Left reeling from the pandemic, Dad’s moved into custom face masks, taking advantage of a weak Canadian dollar to expand stateside. So far, the company has sold 500,000 masks to clients including Telus Corp., Amazon.com and the Toronto District School Board.

Bottom Line: From two employees and $450,000 in revenue for 2019, Dad’s Printing grew to 15 staff last year, when revenue hit $1.8 million. “We want to build the consumer side a lot more because I think it provides some more excitement and better margins,” says Lando, whose five-year revenue goal is $25 million.

Although he wants to keep Dad’s in its 3,000-square-foot Vancouver space, it might move to the suburbs. Lando sees a bright future for North American manufacturers that forgo large-scale production: “It’s being able to be nimble and systematically invest enough to do small runs.”