By Eric Woods
Born in Indiana, Miles Parkhill moved with his family to Springfield when he was five years old. With the exception of a few summers spent in Florida, Parkhill has primarily lived in the Illinois capital. “It has a very affordable cost of living,” he said, regarding why he enjoys living in Springfield. One thing he does not generally enjoy is the small town mentality, and the current budget crisis has everyone upset.
As a kid, Parkhill wanted to be a rock star. He has been playing the drums for years, and his band Park released an EP a couple years ago. Eventually, the band wants to do a full concept album when they can find the time. His first employer was Chuck E. Cheese, and that was a good experience. “I was the game room attendant, and I got to dress up like Chuck E. once in a while. That job was very fun,” he said. Parkhill was also into rollerblading growing up and he credits former Springfield business owner Arlo Eisenberg for inspiring him to grow a business from scratch. “He owned the business Senate and just started out with himself and his friends. He was a professional artist and skater and is still out doing things for major retailers with his art.”
Parkhill started designing shirts as a hobby for friends and local bands. In 1998 he started taking the idea of a business seriously. For the past four years his company has been in their current location. “We do screen printing of apparel, digital printing of signs and banners and embroidering,” said Parkhill. He can also put a company’s logo on just about anything, including pens, mugs and keychains.
Business is pretty steady throughout the year. December and January are normally the slower months, although this past January saw record sales for the month. “Usually we do a lot of planning in January when it is slow,” said Parkhill. Overall, though, business has been very good over the years.
If there is one piece of important advice Parkhill can give others who want to have their own business, it would be to have patience, start small and grow slowly. “You will not jump in and be successful right away. It took me 10 years to build this,” he said. “Take the time to target where you want to be, because it will not happen overnight. That is just not realistic.” He also warns against charging customers what can be procured as opposed to charging what a product or service is worth, as the latter will help keep a long-term relationship with the customer.
With the city basketball tournament coming up, Parkhill will be busy. “We print for three of the four schools that participate,” he said. “We will promote it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is a lot of fun helping the kids see their designs come to life. They are proud to support their schools.”
In this unique industry, Parkhill sees business owners getting out when they get sick of the job. “This is not something where the equipment builds equity,” he said. “It is more about the property. I have bought some smaller shops from people who were just done. It is really hard to sell a company like this.” Parkhill knows he will not be quitting the business any time soon and is not even thinking about retirement.
As for the future, Parkhill wants to know that the world will be a safe place for his children. “As a new parent, I want to know what they will grow up with and experience,” he said. Parkhill also sees himself continuing the business for the next several years, hopefully growing his family, and finding that work/life balance. “I want to enjoy life to the fullest.”
Eric Woods is a freelance writer
from Springfield. He can be reached
Title: Owner, Miles T-Shirts LLC
2801 South Lowell, Springfield, IL
Education: Capital Area Career Center
Family: Daughter – Drew Elizabeth
Hobby: Disc Golfing
Plays drums in the band Park
Collects skateboard decks
Wants to someday go skydiving