About American Klassic Designs
The story of AKD is a long and interesting tale that goes from rock band to a furniture moving company to a screen printing enterprise. The year is 1983 and four guys come together to form a band called “KLASS” to play in a talent show at the college they were attending, Auburn University Montgomery. As the band got going, two of the four guys, Greg Shafer and Derek Welsh quickly realized that the music business didn’t pay the bills so they used their band truck to move furniture during the day and played music gigs at night. The part-time moving business idea birthed their moving company First Klass Movers (today, a still successful moving and storage business).
Being true entrepreneurs, in an effort to control their t-shirt merchandising, Greg and Derek purchased a small existing screen printing business in 1986 and called it American Klassic Designs (AKD). Running three growing companies was exciting and challenging but as the band’s reputation grew and they became more and more popular, they decided changes were necessary and the moving company was sold.
Their efforts were now focused on writing new music and playing shows across Alabama while maintaining and managing growth in the t-shirt venture AKD. The band officially changed their name to McQueen Street, and after many years of earning their stripes and expanding their touring throughout the Southeast, the band hit the big time, signing a record deal with SBK/EMI Records (A division of CBS Records-their label mates included bands such as Vanilla Ice, Wilson Phillips, and Extreme). McQueen Street recorded a very successful debut album, appeared on MTV, winning a number of episodes on MTV’s Headbangers Ball and went into the studio to write and record their second record. Unfortunately after a Top 30 hit on the rock charts including a song produced by Steve Stephens of Billy Idol, the “Grunge” music movement took over and the radio stations and MTV no longer supported 80’s Rock music.
This would lead to a new focus on the screen printing business and AKD really started to grow. In 1993 they moved into a new state of the art facility (our current location on 241 Mendel Parkway). In 1995 AKD doubled their printing production capability and two years later added custom embroidery machinery. The year 1998 brought another positive change when longtime friend and former business partner at First Klass Movers, Pat Atkins returned home and rejoined as a partner in AKD. This created a new ownership structure (Greg Shafer as President and Pat Atkins as Vice President) that remains in effect today. With that new leadership tandem, the next decade showed continued growth and expansion, and in 2010 AKD opened a second location in the River Region by acquiring a competing business in Prattville, Alabama. Besides servicing the local community, this new location specializes in online store fulfillment for restaurants and corporations such as Bonnie Plant, Southern Power and Earl of Sandwich restaurant group.
With our highly experienced sales, graphic and production teams in both offices, our AKD family is excited about the future. Our main source of pride is taking care of our local customers all over Montgomery and throughout the River Region. But we can and do cater to a number of state, regional and national companies throughout the U.S. such as Bama Fever/Tiger Pride, Bassmaster, Biscuits Baseball, and Planet Hollywood, just to name a few. And we proudly serve our military, and many schools, churches and nonprofit groups throughout the area.
Being in the music business for so many years taught us that every great song has a “hook”, whether it’s that guitar lick or catchy melody that makes you want to hum along and come back to hear that song again. And we believe every great business has a “hook” that keeps their customers coming back. Well ours at AKD is that we truly LOVE our customers, trying very hard to work in harmony with each and every one of them. And when they return that love by coming back to shop with us again and again… NOW that’s music to our ears.