By Olivia Cahoon
Several companies manufacture and sell hardware like banner stands and frames while also offering printing services. Print service providers (PSPs) looking to offer new applications may partner with these manufacturers not only to purchase hardware but to also outsource printing.
This relationship provides PSPs with a broader application offering without the need to invest in additional resources like equipment, time, or expertise. Outsourcing is invaluable to print shops unfamiliar with a certain product type, too busy to expand offerings, or that lack the experience or equipment to produce specific graphics in house.
Above: Exhibits Etc in Delray Beach, FL partners with Orbus for most of its products and printing services, including portable displays, banner stands, and fabric structures.
Hardware manufacturers that also print offer PSPs the ability to handle new work while simultaneously educating the shop on a new application.
“Manufacturers who are also printers can help PSPs by offsetting their print business with additional capabilities so they don’t have to turn opportunities away and help educate and train PSPs on best practices related to the print work they are not already doing,” comments Natalie Whited, VP of marketing, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.
Partnering with a manufacturer who offers printing helps PSPs quickly deliver solutions while broadening services. According to Whited, this adds value to many businesses as a full-service solutions provider, which is why many printers, sign builders, and print shops partner for display hardware and printing.
It also enables PSPs to actively bid and win projects that may otherwise disrupt their normal production flow, adds Kevin Walsh, president, Showdown Displays. “By outsourcing to a trusted manufacturer, the PSP in effect has infinite virtual capacity.”
“For example, we’re able to print and distribute everything from pop-up frames to tables, chairs, banner hardware, and tent frames,” says Devon Hoch, marketing manager, Tex Visions.
Hardware manufacturers with printing services often offer dye-sublimation (dye-sub), fabric prints, and flag products. Wide format dye-sub products are the largest and most commonly outsourced category. According to Walsh, it extends across numerous products and is generally outsourced due to complex post-printing processes like cutting and sewing.
The largest subset of the dye-sub segment are fabric prints like silicone edge graphics (SEG) and adhesives. “This is primarily driven by the additional skilled finishing required,” comments Walsh. Flags/sail signs are also outsourced often due to the skilled labor required. “Outsourcing these types of items enables PSPs to be price competitive.”
When to Outsource
Outsourcing to a manufacturer for hardware and printing services is a fit in several scenarios depending on the print shop’s expertise and resources.
Primary instances include large one-time projects, new products that are not currently part of the PSP’s offering, and the shop’s buildup to a greater offering before making a capital investment to in source projects, says Walsh.
PSPs unfamiliar with a certain type of product or are too busy may also outsource. Whited finds that if PSPs do not have the expertise, equipment, or staff to produce and finish graphics in house, partnering with a manufacturer that is also a printer is the best option. If time or value are factors related to current capacity or staffing, outsourcing is also a great fit. “Don’t turn away the opportunity if you don’t have to,” she advises.
Trust Your Partnership
Before partnering with a manufacturer that offers printing services, PSPs should be aware of the manufacturer’s integrity, product quality, and delivery methods.
Trust and integrity between the manufacturer and PSP is of utmost importance. Outsourcing to a manufacturer requires full transparency of who the client is, says Walsh. “It is essential that PSPs partner with manufacturers who have built a reputation of integrity and discretion, so a partnership of trust can be built.”
Manufacturers offering quality products provide stable stakes, which reflects on the PSP’s reputation. “Has the manufacturer demonstrated a track record for delivering quality that is consistent with the PSP’s expectations,” asks Walsh.
In addition to quality, on-time delivery also affects the PSP’s reputation. Before partnering, print providers should determine if the manufacturer is known for consistently meeting delivery expectations, which leads back to trust and integrity.
“By offering the ability to print on site, we are able to work with our customers to find the best solutions for their needs with a quick turnaround and competitive pricing,” says Steph Di Saia, content marketing manager, Displays2go.
Whited advises PSPs to partner with a manufacturer that only sells to the trade and does not sell direct. Otherwise, the relationship between the manufacturer, PSP, and end user may be skewed and result in the end user approaching the manufacturer directly rather than the PSP. According to Whited, manufacturers should blind ship to the end user by default and act as the man behind the curtain so that PSPs continue to be the solutions provider.
One-Stop Display Shop
Established in 2005, Exhibits Etc is a display provider in Delray Beach, FL. With four employees, the company offers trade show displays and graphic design services nationwide from a 1,300 square foot facility. Its products include banner stands, portable displays, fabric structures, and modular exhibit systems.
Since 2005, Exhibits Etc worked with Orbus to outsource its products, including hardware and printing. Over the last few years, Orbus became the PSP’s preferred manufacturer. “We are fortunate to have found an amazing support team within Orbus that is instrumental in helping with our success,” comments Andrew Meller, president, Exhibits Etc.
Exhibits Etc partners with Orbus for several reasons, including a wide product selection. According to Meller, the manufacturer offers something for every client, from banner stands and portable displays to fabric structures and modular exhibit systems.
In addition to supplying the hardware, Exhibits Etc also outsources to Orbus for graphic printing. Meller says the quick turnaround times make it easy to ensure clients receive products on time. Shipping costs are also reduced as packages are consolidated.
Exhibits Etc’s sales increased over the last two years since becoming more involved with Orbus, which is a G7 certified print provider. “It allows us to be more competitive with our pricing and offer clients faster turnaround times,” says Meller.
Outsourcing to a hardware manufacturer that also offers printing services is beneficial for PSPs entering new markets, that are too busy to handle certain projects, or do not have the necessary equipment for the application.
Before selecting a manufacturer to partner with, PSPs should consider if the manufacturer exhibits integrity, good quality, and dependable delivery.
Mar2019, Digital Output