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Marshall Atkinson  
On today's Success Stories podcast, you're in for a real treat, as we have legendary industry character Pete Jr. Onboard to talk about his family business, new era apparel in Oceanside, New York. Pete's father started the business in 1989, with a single table top press. And now they're one of the go to shops in the northeast and New York City. We'll learn about new eras, roots, how Pete's background in sales as a stockbroker has paid off for him growing the shop after he took over from his dad. So Pete, welcome to the Success Stories podcast. Thank you for having me on Marshall. Yeah, you've got quite the family story with new era. And we're gonna dig into all that. So before we get into the family roots and stuff, so somebody who doesn't know you or doesn't know anything about new era, talk about, you know, what you're doing now, and where you are, and just kind of all that just so they can get the lay of the land a little bit.

Pete Junior  
Okay, so newer apparel is mostly a contract printing shop located just outside New York City, we're in Long Island. And we got three automatics, and primarily our business is contract printing, we also do a little bit of retail sales as well. And you know, currently right now just working on a lot of different projects from clothing lines, we got schools, corporate stuff. So really a lot of mix everyday, we do a lot of different items, which is something that, you know, a lot of people are pretty shocked about that we do you know, always do in sweatpants or bags or shirts. And it's never the same thing every day. And you know, a lot of setups and it's kind of something that we specialize in. So everything from high end stuff simulated process to one color, you know, out the doors type stuff. So it's pretty good. And it's very interesting. Keeps it different every day for sure.

Marshall Atkinson  
Well, you know, that's what I really love about this industry is no two days are the life.

Pete Junior  
They're always different. And that's what makes it fun. So of course, alright, so let's just begin kind of our discussion and talk about your dad. Right. So I want to hear all about him, how he started the business, what you learned from him, because there are some kind of interesting stories that I know you've told me before. Right? And then talk about the shop origins a little bit. Okay, so, you know, we started, he started with the business back in 89. And back then it was just kind of, you know, he had a few people asking him to put designs on the back of Baja shirts. And I know me and you had a discussion briefly. For those that don't know, it's a Mexican pullover, it's handmade, it's a little bit hard to wear, you know, very rough, very hard to print out not not really the smooth material that you want to print on, you know, so there's no bass blockers or rollers going to help this material. This is like, you know, printing on a rug, pretty much. So anyway, at the time, my dad was teaching tennis, and he was always teaching some sort of sport. That was his background. And at the time, he was doing import export. So the Baja was like the number one seller and even at a factory in Mexico, that he completely owned that was just pushing out, you know, hundreds of 1000s of pieces every few months. So one of the guys that he was teaching tennis was the owner of Corona. So the whole Corona beach club on the back of a Baja shirt. That was my dad, who was like the first student knew that. I didn't know that pretty interesting, you know, whether or not listen, he could have been tell that's all tale, because that was like my own man. But the fact is that he did start printing that design on the back of Bob, because of this relationship that they had. So, you know, a lot of stuff happened over the years with owning that business, let's just say and moving on with that it didn't really go so. So 89 Old man is in the barrel of you know, his business is done. And he needs to reinvent himself. So he decides, you know, let you know, people keep asking me to put stuff on the back and he's boss. Well, why don't I look into screenprint?

Right. How hard could it be? You know, back in the day, you didn't have a Facebook groups or YouTubers are anybody to teach you anything. So this is going to have nails in them. I mean, these things are atrocious man, so he must have just made these on his own and burn them out. It's terrible. You know, no tension, you know, it's crazy with handrolled acetates the whole night. So that was like my childhood growing up. You know, I wake up in the morning, my dad's artist is there drawing stuff on the acetates or whatever he's doing with a quill and I'm not exaggerating with a quill. The guy was very collected So anyway, he's doing all these designs for my dad that are just unbelievable. I mean, he would do pen drawings, and not even making mistake, like it was just insane that he would go with the quill and do to design for the shirts. So this is how it all started. And so now I'm like a little kid, and you know, I'm grown up watching this, and after school shop, I go play baseball, I go back to the shop. So my whole childhood until pretty much I was old enough to chase women at the shop, right? Till I was 16. So, you know, obviously learned a lot just being there and watching and I didn't really get involved too much with the printing aspect of it, obviously, I'm like a little kid, it's not really, you know, I'm there a short amount of time, my dad doesn't want me around the chemicals back then it's a little bit different to stuff you're using and, you know, probably using mineral spirits and not good ventilation and 120 degrees in the basement. So obviously, you don't want to get a little kid around the side doors sort of stuff, you know, so but I would help them out on time heat press, you know, clean screens, whatever, just because I thought I was helping them out. I probably wasn't anyway. So you know, so that's how the business really started. And 95 He finally got up enough funds, I guess to start his own real shop and manual shop. And actually the printer that started with him full circle came back and work for me now. So really crazy, you know, so, you know, I learned a lot from just being seeing him deal with customers that was like, That's my knowledge. I feel like I know a lot about printing, and I know a lot about the business. I know more about selling and about people. And a lot of that was from being a stockbroker, and being a mortgage broker and all that stuff. And you learned different ways on how to sell. So there was like my old man's way of selling. There was like, the trained way of selling and I guess now there's like, the Pete Jr. way of selling. And I've kind of like combined like the you know, remember me you spoke to you a while back. This is what I want you to buy now. That's it, you know, and I've combined that with just the general like my dad was a guest guy. Oh, PK, you know, can you do 10,000 pieces tomorrow? Yeah, of course. No problem, you know, peeking your soul this crazy thing. Otter Jack Yeah, no problem. My dad would say yes, anybody didn't really matter. You know, he would just say yes, and he would sell anybody doesn't matter if someone wearing white gloves, ketchup popsicle, no problem sell them to, and they'll be back more. That was the type of salesman he was where I kind of learned from watching his I guess mistakes or what I thought was was stakes, right? Maybe throw a little bit of, hey, this is why you need to do this. And this is why you need it on their base, or this is why I can't charge you the cheapest, and kind of a little bit of education in the sense. And when I first came around, I used to go on meetings with my old man. So he would kind of be like there to cut me short. Like, you know, you're explaining too much Shut up, like Now sit back, let the person talk, listen to them, read their body language, see what they're doing. And of course, you know, as a kid, you want to just, it's the same thing with Wall Street and probably why I wasn't working there. Now. You know, you're so young, you want to sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, but you have to listen to your customer, it's like the most important freakin thing. And even if you don't do anything that they want you to do, if you listen to them, that's what people want some time, sometimes you just want a friend. And it's really strange how that works. And they just want to know that they can take their jobs, someone who they feel comfortable with maybe who they have a relationship with. And a lot of times, you know, you attract the people that you are like, in that sort of sense. So watching him sell a bar mitzvah, you know, and watching him get hounded and clobbered and it's like, okay, well, now I have my own business, and he's passed on, maybe those types of customers, instead of taking that business, let me give that to my broker who specializes in that. And not worrying about making a quick 1000 bucks because in reality, you know, it's the 8020 rule. Like we spoke, it's like, you waste your time with this one customer who's gonna call you for 30 revisions and you just forgot about your contract customer who gives you one color garbage to print for schools all day. And that's like a gift like people want those type of jobs because they're easier you know? Here I am, you know, spinning my wheels. So nowadays, lesson learned, right? No more transfers. I don't do that. Someone calls me for one T shirts Sorry $75 or less. You know you want to go to the guy in the mall. Why print for right so I sent him to the guy and Wolf. That's like the major differences right there is saying no to people. You know, I learned a lot from my old man from what he did right also learned a lot from what he did wrong. And you can't always just guess everybody to death, especially nowadays, where you'll take a beating on social media and on Google, and you have people calling you and people showing up to your shop. I've seen bricks come through windows before. I mean, I've seen all sorts of stuff at the shop, I've seen my dad, you know, get into some altercations. You know, people wild, you never know what to expect. So the less time you based on crappy jobs like that, the less chances of weird things happening that can derail your whole life. One more on one bad situation can change your whole life, you know, you take over for your dad, or he passed away, and then you got the business. How did the transition work? So it came on, like financially. So I was like the angel investor, I guess, to the business, right? I was just helping out my ailments, I called back, you know, so I started helping them out at the time I was done with Wall Street, I was looking to get a job in construction, and I hurt my back. So I wonder if just like, I want to work with them, and you owe me money. So I had to make the money back, right. But the money was coming back as fast as the investment, or the money was being asked for me to give to keep the place alive, right. So it got to the point where I'm like, you know, this business ain't that bad at the time I was with somebody, you know, exclusively living with them. So she didn't want me working in the nightclubs anymore. I was working in Victoria's Secret for a little bit. It was actually they wanted to hire me to work in corporate because they were so impressed with how I had the stock room and everything organized. And it was a complete disaster. I mean, I literally changed that place from you know, night and day. So that was like a part time trying to get a job thing changes to keep stuff busy, because I the union job that I had to wait on. So to get the job right away at the weed on the line, you have to sleep outside for three days, take a test, right? And then get accepted to test that. So it's a lot of different. So anyway, I get this, you know, starting up with him, you know, listed money reasons. And now I'm like, invested in it. And now I'm helping him with it. And I'm like, into wrestling and I tell my ex at the time, like you should have that wrestler I said, you're gonna love me, I bet you will answer you. And we'll probably be able to get the job. It worked just like that. She made it him. We got the job. I've been friends with him ever since. So he was like a very in with the WWE and stuff like that. So I did some stuff with him. So now I have like something that I like to do, right. I like to do the wrestling. Go see the show. So now I'm doing stuff wrestlers. So it kinda was like, cool now. So now I'm like, alright, well, printing ain't that bad. You know, like, I thought it was terrible nowadays that bad. So I'm doing that I'm running my dad's whole back end of the printing and stuff like that, because we had to split up the shop. And we had a showroom and a, and a warehouse. And for 20 years, it was all in one building. And I told my old man, I said, Listen, you got to cut corners, you have to get rid of the fat. You can't have a three piece shop, the three store shop, when people are shopping online. Nobody wants to come to your store. The neighborhood is different. It isn't people who are rich anymore. Now it's more middle class. So of the rich people moved on. It's weird in Long Island, old rich people move to the city, all the poor people came out to Long Island. So the neighborhood starts changing with people that are not really owning businesses. Now. They're more worker types and whatnot. So I'm like, nobody's coming to the shop no more that you got to change what you're doing, you know. And he took my advice, finally. So we have the shop, and we have the warehouse and I'm running the warehouse and all that. And now I'm starting to get into, oh, well, if I do this a little bit different. It gives a different result and this and this and that. And whatever. So it came to the point where, you know, after two or three years, I probably knew more than my dad ever knew about printing because I'm calling m&r over in New York. Hey, Tony, what's going on? Man? Listen, how do I do this? How do I do that? Why is this looking like this? So I already have pretty much the basics nailed down because I've been watching people print for my whole life. Right. So you know, certain things that I know. And then now I'm having m&r who I have this relationship with, since I'm a little guy, you know, I'm, I'm you know, three or four years old. Oh, my dad's m&r. So, as I'm growing up, I'm still going to m&r. So you know, I mean, the guys over there, you know, always talking I'm getting new ideas, and so on and so forth to the point where, you know, after like a year or two of work with them, I'm straight running production. He's doing your stall. That's really where like my knowledge is is getting stuff out the door, making the money keeping people busy, and that's one of my very good strong points and I was doing that for you know, up until 2017. So pretty much about seven years at that point straight. And you know, we moved shops and my dad passed away. What am I gonna do? I got 100 grand into the shop. He owes me 100 grand right? I got I got these automatics. I got these big seems nobody's gonna buy the business for what it was worth, at least what I thought it was worth on, which wasn't that much, but I couldn't really find a quick fire. You know, I can't put these machines in my mother's garage. They don't fit, you know, what are you doing? You know, I got big equipment, man, I don't got like a little manual. I got two automatics at this point, and a 30 foot dryer. So what do you do and all this stuff and my father accumulated. So that was the point where, you know, I didn't take it over, you know, he didn't say, Hey, I'm retiring, my dad would have worked till he was 100. That was like the type of guy he was. He just liked selling. That's just like what he did. He likes the money. And he likes selling people, he didn't really care about screenprint. I like doing the work. To me, I take pride in like making a nice print and like, posting it on Facebook. And like, getting all these likes, it was like, Yo, you know, you're doing like, that makes me happy, you know, learning my craft to him. It was just all about sin. Right? Right.

Marshall Atkinson  
So now the shop you're in, right? You're in a particular neighborhood, and you get a lot of local stuff, because everybody knows who you are. You were telling me the other day talking about that?

Pete Junior  
Well, you know, I'm not like one of those guys are always a popular kid growing up. But everybody always knew what I was doing. And whatever, you know, like, I'm not a quiet person. So I know a ton of people. And you know, I was just happened to be at my shop, and we were down and out. My dad passed away. We're getting kicked out and my buddy rolls in. He's like, Hey, I got a spot for you. I said, where i goes, Oh, 3580, do several. And I go right across the street from the old shop. I was like, that's perfect. I said, What happened to the business there. So whatever, there was some changes, and there was an opening. So boom, I took it right away. Because I know everybody here, you know, I know the garbage man. I know, my friends live we are they all businesses, their kids go to the school. So they you know, I get visits from the schools or I the school wants to send the job, they rather send it to somebody who went to the school versus somebody who didn't. So it's nice being known like that, especially in my circle of people that are my age. I mean, everybody knows on the t shirt guy. The only thing is sometimes they think that I don't do small orders. So it's kind of like, Listen, I don't want to do 100 pieces, man, like, I make sometimes more than that than a contract job, you know, but it helps you know, it helps bring in business when there's nothing going on. It helps because we've been in the area now for like 30 years. So I know businesses that you know, my dad did business with, and I eventually came to them and got jobs with them. And there's not really much competition in my area as far as quality and about what I can do. So I'm kind of in my own league, you know, like, everybody always talks about our shop, we're in everybody's heads, the reps all know about us. We're allowed and we're proud and you can go exactly what we do. It's weird, because there's like in New York, it's like, you know, this little neighborhood right? Inside, that's like a town that we're into. There's that little neighborhood but in a sense, just in the South Shore. You know, my dad's business was pretty well known. So, like I tell people all the time. It's nice that I literally get phone calls all day long. We don't know just because the phone number has been around since 1990.

Marshall Atkinson  
That's great. It's good to have a legacy is good. History is good. Print for a lot of people where you're praying for the kids and your

Pete Junior  
parents. Yeah, it's wild man. It's wild. Like there are people to come. Oh, your dad did my party when I was a little kid. He did my sweet 16 You know now they're like the school teacher ordering shirts for me or I know this lady Aaron who I used to deliver to my dad when I was five years old. She's still teaching you know, she still gives us orders I've been printing these jobs since like 1996 or something you know, every year I just changed the number was terrible our world you know, that's what they want you know? So it's really cool that sort of sense or um for example, like I don't ever really look for printers a lot of partners just come to me because they knew my dad so you know I have printers come come up oh, hey, you know do you have work and that's not like every other shop people are dying to find people to work I maybe ask people recently because I've gotten so busy and the business has grown so fast but that's like that's work I don't really have to take it's stuff that I want to take to make more money right. So that's definitely a huge benefit there is just the and when m&r Being right over here it's we have such a great relationship if they have somebody that they know needs my help you know send them my way to and vice versa so I'm definitely keep it in the family and definitely local and you know, just the relationships is huge, right relationships is everything in life.

Marshall Atkinson  
We'll talk about difference between contracting and retail right. Now, what they need to really make this type of contract

Pete Junior  
work, what's the secret? So I think that most people's problem with working with a non contract only shop is that they're just like afraid you're gonna like steal their job or something or anything. So when I'm meeting somebody for the first time, and they'll ask me that I tell them, or I'll volunteer the information, I'll say, Hey, this is what I do. This is how I grew up, like these are the people that I know, should we run into a conflict, I'm literally going to put that person on hold, hold, you let you know that your customers calling me and figure it out from there. Usually I tell them my minimum is like 100,000 pieces. And people think I'm nuts and they just go away, you know, and it's happened maybe two or three times where we've crossed paths. But generally speaking, especially in some of these bigger areas, and I mean bigger as in distance, right? Because New York is very small. But everybody knows everybody, but not really because there's millions people. Whereas like, you can be working in the middle of Idaho, and then have a customer you know, in California sending you stuff like you don't really get to steal their customer, I think that's what people are just afraid of. And generally that's like a sales slash like personal thing. So you attract people that you're like when you're a salesman. So that's like, the biggest thing in the world, I think, is that just letting people know who you know, not with them, hey, listen, you know, this is what happens. And from my experience, people usually appreciate it, I don't waste my time with like, people want 30 or 40 revisions for like retail, I don't give people proofs at all. Never. If you're coming to me, and you want me to make you t shirts, I show you the design. And that's it. It's what I want to do. And I let people know that upfront. And it's good, because some people just don't come back to me, that's fine. The people that stay with me are super easy to do business with, they tell me what they want. I grabbed their file, I've been written for 20 years, and I slap it on a t shirt. And if it doesn't work like that, I generally don't want your business. So that I think has helped me with the contract side of things because I'm not wasting my time serving people retail. And it's not like it's like the smartest thing in the world that I do without sending proofs or whatever, my personal choice, it's more of not wasting my time with those people. Because I have to deal with my 80% of my good customers. But 20% is my like, play money, or that's my profit money or whatever it is. So I have to limit what I can do because I have to serve my other people. And I think that's the problem that people face with non contract shops is that they'll get an order and be like, Oh, screw this person, I'm making two grand on these 100 pieces, okay, but the person who you're screwing just gave you towards your 50 grand a year. So you gotta weigh your options a little bit. And I think I do a very good job of that. I think that people know that when I do their contract work that I'm not your printer, I'm like, your friend, your psychiatrist, I got your back, you know, you're in there, you're in the wilderness, you lose your light. I'm right there with your flashlight ready to help you, you know, like, and that's how people want to feel. And I think I got that kind of from like the stockbroker aspect of the business where, you know, you you're not really selling them stock, it's not what you're doing at all, actually, that has nothing to do with it. If you're selling somebody stock overflow, and they're ridiculous gamblers, those people, so they just want a friend and they want someone that they know they can send their money to that's not going to like run away. And it's all about like having that person to talk to and it's just all about relationships. And I think that that's what I do really well with the contract business. I have a very good retention rate. Generally, if I don't retain the customer, it's probably because they don't give me a lot of businesses. But if you give me business and you pay me right, I'll do anything for you. You know, it's I'm gonna treat you like family. And I think that that's what separates us from the other non 100% contract shops or however you want to work.

Marshall Atkinson  
Right. One of the things I've noticed the people who contract who don't understand process efficiency downtime, you don't know their costs, who aren't really looking at workflows. They're just trying to keep their processes running. They cannibalize the time they have available. Because the patcher itself is deployed to the back has cast fees out into the year guys. Don't make any money.

Pete Junior  
Because their costs could be doing to give you totally brought in a different perspective angle, but I don't even think about because I was never in that realm, right. Like I never started on a tabletop. I came to her for my dad, who my boy to tend to call automatics. Right. That's like what I did. But so I'm coming from a different lifestyle. That's like, really cool aspect to thinking about that. And to add to that, I say, You're 100%, right. I see the last couple times, Oh, should I get into contract work? No, no, go get more jobs. Like the only reason why you would want more contracts, if you do not want to sell people, and you're just a terrible salesman. And all you got for yourself is that you can pound out work, well, then God bless you. But you know, some people that's not the solution, you're better off getting a job working for Uber two hours a week to make that $30 $40 a week, and let that add up and pay for your press. Rather than bring on work that's going to ruin your business, stress you out, you're working for cheap, and you don't want to do your job anymore. And it's just like, it's a hamster wheel of life. It's not for everybody. contract work is a tough business. And people don't really respect it as they should. I feel like it's not easy, man. It's not easy, you know about that better than anybody in itself.

Right? So last talk? Well, I mean, digital is the way right, that's like, where everything is going. But there's going to be certain variables that they either don't want to put money into developing or just is not reasonable. So there's always going to be screen printing in some form, or, you know, somehow some sort of way, you know, lacking or, you know, big large designs, one color and stuff like that, it's always gonna be printing is always going to be needed. It's been around for 1000s of years, you know, not like an every day is what's been going on since way before me and you. So obviously, digital, I think is like, the next leap, how fast it will get there. You know, I mean, DTG was supposed to take over the world, and 10 years later, it's like, they still suck, right. So the best thing to happen really is the hybrid. Now I haven't seen the Polaris run, that's something I'm super amped to see run, I've seen the the rock machine run, I was not impressed with that, what I do like the hybrid and where that's going, and that sort of way that you're doing on rock m&r Doesn't matter which machine that digital hybrid, I think is going to be the new wave of the future. And I think that if they always on doing it that way, I feel like it's better than the DTG I don't know, there's just a lot of limitations. And in 10 years, it really hasn't gotten that great. The quality might be good, but then you'll wear the shirt wants it, it's like, you know, wash is completely out. But generally 90 99% of people DTG I feel like are like small people. And then you got the big farms that actually run on real dryers carrying the shirts properly. But I feel like screen printing will always be better than that. And I feel like the hybrid thing is going to grow. I feel like that is where the bulk is, should be. And I feel like that's where eventually these these all digital machines, even if they're running to 300 pieces an hour. That's not fast enough, man that is not fast enough, not at the way rages going. I feel like so right now you got these both rockin m&r habit on one machine right for like all digital, and then they have one machine but a hybrid. I'm surprised nobody's just made a, you know, one that does both. So eventually they're going to do that. And eventually that's going to be cheaper, not like to the point where it's going to be in a house, I think DTF is actually going to take over DTG soon because DTF is pretty nice. Or at least what like super colors does, how they you know, they're using the inline inline presses and stuff like that, where it's like digital than screenprint did. You know that's a heavy duty machine, people always say oh, they do DTF. Now, it's way more complicated than that. And I feel like those types of machines are going to kind of take the place of DTG a little bit because the quality is pretty decent, feels good. It looks good. And it's like easier to do and more repeatable and fit for many reasons. And it's cheaper than doing DTG and you don't have to worry about like I don't know, I just repeating things that I hear like capping the machine or like your machine needs to run all day or it's not going to work and nobody wants to hear that. Oh, let me not drive my car for a week and then start it up and expect it not to work like that's ridiculous. And and I think that that's DTG has its limitations with that. So I think that DTF for that little sector, those people at home, the garage, people stuff like that. smaller shops, retail shops, I think they're gonna go from DTG to DTF. And instead of using internets or is DTF, you know, all these companies doing screenprint the transfers that are, by the way, terrible quality, they're gonna start going into just like you said, we're, you know, you put someone who doesn't know much on a machine, and have good quality. And then I think that on the screenprinting side of it, I think that eventually we're going to start seeing more hybrid applications as opposed to what the Polaris and what the other rock, I don't know what their name of their machine is, but what they're doing, I don't really see much traction in that I see more traction in either if they combine it and make a bigger machine at a better price that like normal people can afford like 100 200 grand, not like a million dollars. And I know that that replaces a lot of labor and you know, stuff like that, but a million dollars, man, that's a lot of already covered up with 100 grand deposit, man, that's like, if I had 100 grand, just disposable like that, I might not be screenprint the man I might be on vacation in a roofer or something, you know. So it's an intimidating not when you have to spend, you know, $5,000 a month or one machine, it's just, it's intimidating man, it adds it's a little pressure to you, you know, and it's tough. It's not easy, but will I make that leap someday, I'm sure someday I will.

I thought about it, you know, at least with the hybrid as far as going like full DTG like that, I'm not really so comfortable with that. And I don't want to be like your first person who owns a machine like that, that really doesn't attract me at all, I'd rather like watch other people suffer. And then I'll buy it a year later, you know, and every time I've learned something new, whether it was like a PlayStation, or like the first call, and that was like, it's not like, you know, a touchscreen phone. It's always like a turd, you know, so it was gonna like weed out the first year and a half of things bought, where I see things going, you know, in my different doing things in line that putting the DTF on a shirt and stamping it, instead of renting it to is another option. So that's why I feel like these machines with these different tools did not fully harnessed the way they can be. It's still very infant, I think that's going to be the grow. That's great.

Marshall Atkinson  
Perfect. So thank you so much for sharing your story of success with us today. So if someone wants to learn more about what you do, or maybe how you can help them, what is the best way to contact you?

Pete Junior  
If people want to get a hold of me, of course, you can always dial the hotline 516-378-1553 Both my secretary sspp Jr. But you can always send us an email or go check out our website, New Era dotnet do our apparel dotnet or you can go old school again. It's up in Baja. man.com. Now snow Lake new our apparel dotnet. We're over in New York. And always Google I still get Google says we actually do this for real business.

Marshall Atkinson  
Alright, that's great. Thank you so much. Appreciate you, buddy.

Posted 
Wed
Jun 15, 2022