Valdosta Daily Times

Business

May 25, 2014

Man finds a successful dip in business

REMERTON — When Jode Hewett decided to start a hydrographics business with a friend in March 2013, he couldn’t have predicted how the business would evolve in its first year.

Hydrographics — sometimes referred to as water transfer printing or dipping — is a water transfer printing process popular with hunters for applying a camouflage pattern to guns, bows, and hunting equipment.

When CamoPro started, Hewett contacted friends, friends of friends and their friends, spreading the word to hunters and firearm aficionados.

Business wasn’t bad in the beginning, but it started making a sharp climb last August. That’s when the Ducks Unlimited chapter in Hahira asked Hewett if he could dip a 65-quart Yeti cooler for them.

“It was something that was different for us, something bigger,” said Hewett. “We had been doing a pretty good bit of guns at that point.”

The cooler turned out well, and Hewett uploaded photos of it to CamoPro’s website and Facebook account.

Soon, Hewett received customer requests from other states — Kansas, Pennsylvania, Texas and Iowa, among others — for custom dippings, mailing things to Hewett that he’d return upon completion.

“People from Kansas are sending us guns, coolers from Texas. We did 15 different Christmas present coolers from 15 different states.”

Though he started with camouflage

patterns and they’re still a major part of his business, he began stocking more patterns: flames, skulls, carbon fiber, zebra stripes, etc.

While guns are still the majority of his work, customers started experimenting with other items to dip. Baseball and motorcycle helmets, interior and exterior parts of cars, motorcycle parts, four-wheelers, wake boards, deer skulls, even wine glasses, a microwave and a prosthetic leg.

“If it can have paint applied to it, you can dip it.”

Hewett used a 6-foot-by-4-foot water tank with 600 gallons of water, though larger items aren’t a problem as long as he can break them down to smaller parts.

So how’s it all work?

Let’s take a glass bottle as example.

After getting a base coat of automotive paint, a wax film of the pattern is placed in the water. Each pattern has transparent parts which lets the paint show through.

After 90 seconds of soaking, the film is sprayed with an activator which separates the ink from the film, returning the ink to a liquid state.

The bottle is dipped into the ink pattern which wraps itself around the bottle. When the pattern overlaps itself, it seals off, creating a seam down the side.

After that, the wax is washed off the bottle and a gloss or matte clear coat is applied.

Detail airbrushing work can be added on top of that.

This is the third business venture for Hewett, a former high school teacher. While he didn’t expect to find himself dipping deer skulls and prosthetic legs, he hoped to see the business go national, establishing an 800 number and a website for the store so people outside of the Lowndes area could reach him.

By May 29, he should have a local number established as well.

CamoPro is located at 1704 Al Brooks Drive, Remerton. More information: Visit www.camopro.com; call 1-855-365-CAMO, or, starting May 29, call (229) 244-0018.

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