Customer Story

Lightning 50 winner Heat Transfer Warehouse is on a roll since doubling its orders with Brightpearl and BigCommerce power combo

As a retailer that provides transfer equipment to make decorated apparel; from branded sports kits, company merchandise, school and work uniforms to any other form of art-emblazoned clothing and accessories, Heat Transfer Warehouse knows that its target market is practically anyone.

“The fall season sees huge uptake for us,” says AJ McAleer, Operations Lead at the company. “It’s back to school, a new business quarter, organisations and sports tend to get moving again after summer. But really there’s no limit to who could find use for our products all year round.”

The solely online company based in Fargo, North Dakota, has seen consistent growth since launching back in 2010, selling a comprehensive product line of heat transfer vinyl and sublimation equipment via its website. The company sold mostly to businesses – but in the last couple of years saw a huge spike in direct-to-consumer sales, as the pandemic reignited people’s interest in at-home crafts and creative side hustles. 

With an impressive 30% YoY growth rate, the brand placed 14th in Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 rankings, which rates the fastest-growing online retail businesses in the country. Founder and Partner of the brand, Kirk Anton, appreciates the sense of competition. 

“We don’t go out looking for it, but it’s awesome and an honour to get recognition for the work we do,” he says. “Next time we’ll be aiming for number one.”


When Heat Transfer Warehouse was born, it was to be a one-stop-shop for all things branding and apparel transfer. The business began from its HQ in North Dakota, as one man – Kirk – and a dog, and has now grown to a team of 56 staff across three other locations in Jacksonville FL, Cincinnati OH and Las Vegas. 

Though the brand saw consistent success over the following decade, the retailer hit an operational crossroads – particularly in its ordering and inventory management, which lacked accuracy and visibility.

“We won’t drag our old system through the mud, but it badly needed changing,” says AJ. 

“Inventory was managed as what I’d call ‘a pile of stuff’. It was all guesswork, we had no idea how much we had – and adding to the complication was the various sized rolls of vinyl that were used. We’d just cut some off an existing roll, or cut into new, smaller sized rolls – but there was no documenting it. 

“It’s hard to explain how much we lost in time alone, because the losses were more than that. 

“When there are inaccuracies in orders, it all hurts later on – into inventory, into warehouse, making corrections all the way down the line. It’s time and energy wasted and money wasted making things right again.” 

In a move to improve its systems, Heat Transfer Warehouse upgraded to BigCommerce. Looking for an operational system that would connect with the leading e-commerce platform is what led them to Brightpearl.

“We found Brightpearl to be one of very few systems that plugs easily into BigCommerce,” said AJ. “We analysed cost against functionality and really dug into how it would work for us to make sure they knew our pain points. The Brightpearl team ticked off all of those pain points – and if they didn’t, they were willing to work with us to figure out how they could.” 

Implementation was swift, thanks to the round-the-clock guidance of Brightpearl’s expert implementation consultants, who got the system up and running for Heat Transfer Warehouse in less than five months. 


The growth benefits of having Brightpearl as the brand’s central source of truth are undeniable for Kirk.

“The tech we put in place that year; we wouldn’t have had the success we’ve achieved since without it. It was huge for us,” he says.

With a world-class roster of Plug & Play integrations, the Brightpearl retail operating system (ROS) quickly syncs to BigCommerce without fuss. It also extends to online marketplaces and channels such as Amazon and eBay, should Heat Transfer Warehouse choose to expand with them in future – as well as the brand’s shipping software, Shipstation, and its current marketing app, Klaviyo. 

There’s also Brightpearl’s powerful Automation Engine, which streamlines and automates time-heavy processes in orders, inventory, warehouse, shipping and fulfilment so that clunky manual tasks are all but eliminated. The team has found the automated rules, as well as improved inventory visibility, to be a game-changer.

“When we switched to Brightpearl we changed how we operated. All the different sizes of vinyl rolls in our inventory were so hard to document. There was a lot of math that didn’t need to be done and energy misspent,” says AJ. 

“Now I can tell you exactly how many sizes of rolls are in our inventory, and exactly where they are. Even how we take those larger rolls and make them smaller, we actually have data to go off now. We’ve stopped with guesswork. Brightpearl has allowed us to make those better, more informed decisions.”

It was the pandemic that sent sales sky-high in the spring of that year, doubling the retailer’s orders from around 8,000 a month to 16,000. The team had upgraded systems and installed Brightpearl at the start of 2020, right before the chaos began.

We were primed and ready when Covid hit,” explains Kirk. “We pulled out of trade shows and focused on our website, but we didn’t even realise what our new systems could do until March, April, May when things really hit boiling point – and that’s when the new technology we’d implemented carried us through and allowed us to soar.”

“We’re talking almost double the amount of orders in a couple of years – and it’s been fine. It’s allowed sheer scalability. We could hire more staff, sure, but we’d rather try to find efficiencies – and that ended up being Brightpearl. It means I could challenge everybody to take on 25% more orders, and Brightpearl would allow each one of them to handle it with no stress.”

With Brightpearl facilitating 360-degree visibility across every department, Heat Transfer Warehouse also has access to real-time performance insights and in-depth reporting functionality, as at-a-glance data is available to each staff member from one central source of truth.

“It’s set up exactly as we need it to be. The way it communicates with BigCommerce has been easy, and we love that it can connect to all elements of our business. 

“All of our staff use it – our warehouse team, sales team, customer service – and whenever business changes, we can set it up to completely suit our needs.”


With the potential of the branded apparel space and Brightpearl supporting its hyper-scalability, there are seemingly no limits to where Heat Transfer Warehouse can go as a business. As devoted fans of Fargo, the brand’s hometown, the team are big on giving back to the local community that supports them.  

“Fargo is the best place on Earth in our view and hugely supportive to businesses – so we do everything we can to give back, whether it’s charity events or volunteering,” says Kirk. 

“We also scout for emerging talent by bringing on young developers from the local coding academy here.”

When it comes to scaling the business, Kirk believes that investing in the best technology is key to reaching their biggest goals.

“Our plan as a business is to become a $100M company. We want to keep operational staff numbers as lean as possible, so we’re putting things in place to do that.”

“In that respect, the technology we use is number one; the biggest thing we’re investing in. We visit Brightpearl, we visit BigCommerce, all of our big tech partners – because that’s really what drives us to be the best in our industry.”

Key Facts

1st placed

Fastest-growing online brand in North Dakota

2X order increase

The firm's orders have doubled since 2020