Chris, Jay and Laurie Soule began their business by inviting friends over, barbecuing and wrapping boats in their spare time.

That business has now expanded to a full-time job for the trio, and their company now offers screen printing and embroidery in addition to designing and printing everything from stickers to vehicle wraps to cover service vans.

Compadres Ink started eight years ago as a by-appointment boat wrapping company, said Chris Soule, the son of Jay and Laurie. The idea for the side business was spurred from Jay Soule's love of fishing and his more than 30 years experience in the printing business.

"We started the business really because there was new technology available," Jay Soule said. "We decided we wanted to, for some crazy reason, look into that sort of stuff."

Both Jay and Laurie Soule were working at Hartman Distributing Co. full time when they began Compadres Ink on the side.

Throughout the first three years, the company worked around the schedule of the trio but also expanded to begin screen-printing T-shirts as well.

"It kind of grew legs," Jay Soule said. "We had a lot of our customers asking who printed T-shirts, and we didn't have anybody to refer them to, so we were like, 'Well maybe we ought to look into doing T-shirts.'"

The T-shirt printing boomed and the company was able to pay off the loan on the screen-printing equipment before the second payment was due, Chris said.

At that point, the business needed a full-time employee, Jay said. By that time, his son had graduated high school and worked as the sole full-time employee.

"By myself meant I'd be there early, prepping the boats, printing them, and I wouldn't really do anything until they came over after work," Chris said.

During the next few years, the business continued to expand, creating a need for their own building, which they bought September 2013 at 3104 E. Red River St.

After being in business for about eight years, Jay decided to work at Compadres Ink full-time and soon after, Laurie Soule followed.

"You can hire managers, but nobody cares as much as the owners," Chris said. "It's been interesting working things out."

When his parents joined him at the company, it was hard for them to decide who would do what within the company, Chris said.

"It's been about a year, since we've gotten stuff to flow smoothly," Chris said. "There's definitely no way we'd be where we are if they hadn't come over here a year ago."

Laurie said she loves working side-by-side with her husband and son, and they have found good help in their 13 workers.

"We have a really good group of employees now, so they're like our family," Laurie said.

For Jay , the transition to owning the company full time has been interesting, he said.

"It's been a pretty good change, challenging from the standpoint of the day-to-day," Jay said. "I was at Hartman Distributing for 16 years, so it's definitely a different environment. To be able to work side-by-side with family is incredible."

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