Most people in the Sault know of SK Group, a highly successful, locally owned and operated business, but it’s only when you get treated to a tour of the SK Group building (located on Queen St. E.) that you realize how much the business has grown, both in its physical size and range of services.
“It’s really cool,” said Sherry Berlinghoff, SK Group Inc. president, speaking to SooToday in her boardroom.
SK Group has grown from a home-based embroidery business to one which offers not only embroidered clothing for its corporate clients, but also commercial printing, laser engraving and cutting, signage, graphic design, a screen press/heat press, with the ability to print logos on just about anything, including jackets, sweatshirts, hoodies, T-shirts and hats for men, women and youth and many other items such as coffee mugs and, well, the list goes on and on.
The 11,500 square foot heritage building has three storeys and a basement at the SK Group team’s disposal.
SK Group launched as Stitch King in 1994.
“We’re a full-service branding company,” Sherry said.
“Our roots are in embroidery, starting with a two-head embroidery machine out of our home, then we moved to the Industrial Park, then to Queen Street East beside Ernie’s Coffee Shop. We were there for quite some time. Then in 2000, we added screen printing to what we do. Embroidery and screen printing go hand in hand.”
The company’s growth continued.
“We were outgrowing that space (the business moving to its current home at 238 Queen St. E. in 2010),” Sherry said.
“This space was bigger than what we needed actually, so at that point we added website and information technology, and we brought on a graphics company as a partner too, so that’s where we got into the signage end of things. In 2014, we dissolved that partnership and SK Group had its own sign shop.”
Sherry also became SK Group's sole owner in 2014, having changed the business name from Stitch King Embroidery to SK Group in 2010, then to SK Group Inc. in 2013.
SK Group now employs 14 people and is growing.
“We added so many services, you can’t say Stitch King if you’re selling websites...we offer our clients everything across the board,” Sherry smiled.
Covering all those areas helps clients, Sherry said.
“There’s brand consistency. We know how to utilize your brand across all these different processes. What happens is you’re always getting the same look, so you don’t have to take your logo to a sign shop, then to an embroidery place, and so on. We know how to keep that brand looking exactly as it should across all mediums. It’s a one-stop-shop, and we can do high production in all areas, so when you come in we can make sure all your stuff is ready.”
SK Group clients include McDougall Energy, the Soo Greyhounds, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Green for Life (GFL), Sault College, Algoma University, elementary and secondary school sports teams, dance studios, Soo Mill, Pino’s Get Fresh, Batchewana First Nation and Garden River First Nation.
“We also have online stores, and this is a really big move to go online as well as having our brick and mortar building. Schools, groups, organizations, businesses, we actually offer them their own custom online stores. A client business can order their uniforms online, we have stores for schools...it can be purchased online and in advance, they go online and purchase the piece or pieces they want, grandparents can buy gifts for a grandchild if they want, it gets shipped wherever they want or picked up, we have all those options. It’s quite extensive,” Sherry said.
It feels good, Sherry said, to be back in the building after a devastating Jan. 31, 2019 Queen Street blaze destroyed another building which housed several local businesses near SK Group.
Smoke from the fire-damaged thousands of new, clean clothing items SK Group had in stock.
“The fire stopped a lot of our regular movement (graphics, sales and receiving had to temporarily move to another location on Queen Street for three months). We got back into our groove by the end of June,” Sherry said.
New, large windows will be installed on the top floor of the building, where Sherry plans to move her office and include a casual area and kitchen for events.
The basement (the former showroom) is not currently being utilized but will be in the future, Sherry said.
“I love walking by the embroidery machines and seeing these designs come to life. It’s quite amazing. I enjoy all elements of the business. I enjoy being able to provide this level of service in a business people would not expect to see in a smaller town, with these production capabilities for large contracts. I love networking with the business community too.”
“I love providing big-city solutions in a small town.”
Family is also a factor in SK Group, with Sherry’s daughter Jessica serving as operations manager, her son-in-law Eric as production controller.