When Dave Dreiling graduated from Kansas State University in 1989 with a degree in marketing, he and a partner went into business together selling customized imprinted sweat-shirts, T-shirts and other logo’d apparel to fraternities and sororities. They called their company “It’s Greek To Me,” and to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, they made house calls, giving potential customers the chance to try on and buy products on the spot.
“When I first started this business, many people—including five banks—thought it would fail,” said Dreiling, 40. “But I was just too bullheaded to listen, so I went and did it anyway.”
Luckily for him, he didn’t take the naysayers’ advice. Dreiling stayed with the fledgling business, buying out his partner in 1991. He also expanded its reach to include the high-school market, where he found a receptive audience. By eliminating the middleman, Dreiling was able to offer customized jackets and the like to high-school groups at a value price. The business, which evolved into GTM Sportswear, hasn’t stopped growing since.
Today, about 85% of GTM’s business comes via its custom division, which sells imprinted sportswear to athletic teams, booster clubs, cheer/gymnastic squads and other athletic groups. The company also operates “The K-State Super Store” and “Cats Closet,” the retail arm of the Kansas State Athletic Department.
Dreiling, who grew up in the retail business (his family owned a small specialty apparel chain in Kansas) felt the entrepreneurial pull at a young age. Always industrious, he bought a limousine while in college and started a car service.
In addition to running GTM Sports-wear, Dreiling is the founder of and majority investor in “Hungry Cats,” a group that operates five Quiznos stores in several markets. He also has acquired the Kansas franchise for Growth Coach, a home-based, business-to-business coaching system.
How does he find the time for everything?
“In order to balance all of my businesses, I make sure I stay very efficient at work,” Dreiling said. “I focus a lot of my time around putting the right management in place.”
President GTM Sportswear Manhattan, Kan.Annual sales: $28 millionType of business: Direct marketer of customized logo jackets, uniforms and sportswearAreas of operation: Nationwide
Dreiling said he’s learned over the years not to make a business deal based on the deal alone.
“I don’t care how good the deal looks,” he explained, “if it’s not with someone I trust and if it’s not with someone I want to spend time with, I don’t want to do it. It all comes back to people.”
At the end of the day, Dreiling enjoys spending time with the people that matter most to him: his wife Kristen and their two children, Tyler, 14, and Morgan, 12.