Insta Graphic Systems Celebrates 65th Anniversary

Insta Graphic Systems was founded in 1959 by Herbert Wells and is now led by Janet Wells.

Insta Graphic Systems
(Image courtesy Insta Graphic Systems)

Insta Graphic Systems (Insta), a U.S.-based manufacturer of custom heat transfers and heat press machinery, has announced it will be celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2024.

Insta got its start in 1959 when two young entrepreneurs began selling heat transfers and heat press machines to schools and clubs in Southern California. Herbert Wells, a former industrial chemist, purchased the company in 1957 and began to innovate the heat transfer industry. He developed the first plastisol heat transfer products. They were easy to produce and apply and offered a soft touch and feel. With the right products in hand, Insta says it was well-positioned when the market for decorated T-shirts exploded in the early 1970s.

Janet Wells, Herbert Well’s daughter, joined the company in the mid-1970s. Taking advantage of her experience living and traveling abroad, Janet focused her efforts on developing the company’s international business. The mark she made was significant – Insta now sells its products in over 100 countries around the world.

Insta’s early growth was driven by transfer products it produced, under license, for some of the most recognized characters, TV shows, and movies of the time – Mighty Mouse, Tom & Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Bullwinkle & Friends, and The Wizard of Oz, to mention a few. One of Insta’s most notable early licenses was for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Steven Spielberg’s seminal 1982 science fiction movie. The movie’s success and widespread popularity helped drive demand for Insta’s heat transfers and heat presses.

Over the years, Insta expanded its licensing collaborations to include some of the biggest movie franchises and celebrities in the country, as well as to professional and amateur league sports. Insta provided transfers for Michael Jackson, shows like the Adams Family, movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and more. Insta also provided transfers for NASA, Buzz Aldrin, Richard Branson, and Paul McCartney. In the 1990s, Insta became a licensee for Major League Baseball and developed partnerships with some of the most recognized sports apparel brands in the world – Nike, Reebok, and Adidas.

“Licensing was just the tip of the iceberg for Insta,” said Insta’s President and CEO Janet. “The key to our success was our intense focus on quality, cutting-edge technology, and service. We never stopped innovating and developing products that met our customers’ demands for performance-enhancing textile decorating solutions.”

The US government recognized Insta’s market leadership and international success in 1999, when U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley awarded Insta Graphic Systems the prestigious President’s “E Award” for outstanding export excellence.

As it celebrates its 65th anniversary, Insta is now a woman-owned and operated company. Janet said she believes that the company’s greatest asset is its employees, adding that Insta’s employee team is dedicated to delivering the best quality service and products possible to customers worldwide.

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Marie Fennema

Marie Fennema is the managing editor of GRAPHICS PRO, including GRAPHICS PRO Today, covering news and guidance in apparel decoration, awards and engraving, and sign and digital printing.

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