The Big Picture - January/February 2013 - (Page 13)

inside output Solving Our Identity Crisis By Craig Miller I no longer know how to refer to our company. I’m not comfortable with people calling us a “sign shop.” I’m not even sure I’m okay with the tag of “digital print operation.” Yes, we print, but printing has become just one of the services we provide. Neither term – “sign shop” nor “print shop” – seems to be inclusive enough any longer. For us, being perceived solely based on the end product – sign, poster, banner, or even vehicle wrap – has become way too limiting. As many of you have done, we have broadened our horizons in recent years to include visual merchandising, interior decorating, architectural products (environmental graphics), garments, events, fine art, vehicle color-change wraps, and more. Broadening the product mix We have, for instance, added the following to our company’s product mix in recent years: • We’ve added cutting to our finishing services. Before digital printing companies got into it, CNC firms with industrial-strength routing capabilities were mostly standalone cutting businesses. We bought our first large-format router table in 1997 because we wanted to contour-cut rigid boards with digital prints. Of course, this was before UV printing, so we had to first mount the prints to the boards. This was also before i-cut, and it took some ingenuity to accurately contour-cut the digital prints, but we figured it out and did well with it. In 2002, when we adopted UV printing, we added a big multi-tool router table with i-cut. Now, the pure CNC companies can’t compete with us for this print-and-cut business because they can’t image the boards. Our next step is to acquire a big, powerful laser table; we’re looking to add a 6 x 10-foot unit with a 450-watt laser that can cut plastic, glass, stone, metal, wood, etc. • We moved into plastic fabrication, and can now do everything a plastic-fabrication company can – like bend and glue acrylic. And, with our expertise in Adobe CS6 and our design horsepower, we have an advantage over other company types when it comes to laser engraving images on acrylic. Plus, with our state-of-the-art UV printing equipment, we have imaging capabilities that other plastic fabri- cators do not. And, the fact that we’re executing fabrication in-house provides us with a price advantage when we sell plastic products to our regular client base. • We now provide tradeshow and retail customers with fabric and coated acrylic panels that are used for videoprojection displays. Since we cut and use acrylic and have the laminating capability to apply video-receptive fi lm, we can fabricate freestanding, flat, high-definition video panels. Because we stock the fabrics that work well as front or rear video screens and we fabricate fabric panels, this is a natural addition for us. • And we have inadvertently expanded to funerals. We did this at first by printing pictures for friends and family who had experienced a death. Then we began creating visual-remembrance presentations for fallen local soldiers, pro bono. Now, people come to us as paying customers for the task of scanning photos and making beautiful visuals to display at the services. Last week, by natural extension, we began producing images to decorate the room of a woman in hospice so she can enjoy the remembrances provided by her family before her death. I think that is a fine visual service to provide. But we’re not a sofa manufacturer So what does that make us? What do those of us who have pushed the envelope beyond “sign shop” now call ourselves? I posed this question on the International Sign Association’s LinkedIn page, and received quite a few interesting responses. Esko’s Melody Vennum responded, “It sounds like you have made the leap from PSP (print service provider) >42 CRAIG MILLER is a principal shareholder in Las Vegas-based Pictographics, ( where he is also director of military and law-enforcement projects, the company’s defense-contracting division. 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Big Picture - January/February 2013

The Big Picture - January/February 2013
Wide Angle
Vehicle Graphics – Making It Your Fault
Inside Output
Special Section: FOCUS
New Technology: SGIA and Graph Expo Highlights
Job Log

The Big Picture - January/February 2013