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Wraps on Tap

A vehicle wrap business creates a traveling brewery.

By Kim Crowley

Dale Salamacha started his sign company 24 years ago in his mother’s garage with only a paintbrush and airbrush. Over time this developed into a sign operation with over 20 years of experience.

Salamacha, president, Media 1, works with co-operators Damon Coppola and Rick Ream, VPs. "The three of us have been doing work together for over 15 years. We decided about five years ago to team up and become partners and have never looked back or regretted any of our decisions," says Salamacha.

As the Media 1 business grew, it became a state-certified electrical sign contractor that provides design, engineering, and permitting. Services include production of routed, sandblasted, and dimensional signs; pylon signs; architectural sign systems; illuminated cabinets; awnings; channel letters; custom paint and airbrushing; and vehicle and marine wraps.

Differentiating Wraps
"I think people are really starting to realize what a great means of advertising vehicle wraps are," explains Salamacha. "Sure, there is an upfront, initial cost, but for the number of years a wrap will last and the amount of people who will see the message, it is one of the best, if not the absolute best, form of advertising."

Wraps are such a strong portion of Media 1’s business that the owners made the decision to differentiate the service. "Up until about two years ago, we performed around ten to 15 vehicle wraps—partial and full—in a month," says Salamacha.

Demand grew rapidly, and Media 1 now produces wraps on 60 vehicles per month. To handle the incoming wrap projects and distinguish this portion of Media 1’s business, Media 1 divided into two independent companies in June 2007—Media 1 and Wrap This, Ink.

"We were fueled by the concept that a client looking for a vehicle wrap might not know to go to a sign company. We threw ‘wrap’ into the name and split Media 1 into two companies. The split allowed both divisions to pursue their own avenues of growth and marketing," says Salamacha.

Today, Media 1 and Wrap This, Ink. operate out of a 12,000 square foot space in Orlando, FL. Wrap This, Ink. also has a separate 3,000 square foot facility in Melbourne, FL. The company plans to keep Media 1 in its Orlando location while seeking an additional 6,000 square feet for Wrap This, Ink. in Orlando this summer. "We’re looking for major road frontage. We feel that Wrap This, Ink. will definitely benefit from large sign and road frontage for advertising finished wrap products," states Salamacha. The owners plan to expand Wrap This, Ink. locations into Tampa and Jacksonville, FL later this year and into other states over the next few years.

The two companies currently employ 34 people and are constantly looking for more talent. Revenue for Media 1 is estimated to break three million dollars this year, with Orlando-based Wrap This, Ink. at 1.5 million dollars, and a goal of $350,000 for the first year in Melbourne.

Evolving Technology
When Salamacha first opened up shop he admits, "There were no such things as vinyl plotters or any computerized sign making equipment, let alone the digital printers of today’s marketplace."

To print wraps, Wrap This, Ink. uses three Mutoh Toucan LT 64-inch printers. The printers can print at up to 1,440 dpi at a speed of 398 square feet per hour (sf/h). They use Eco-Solvent Plus ink or LT Solvent inks from Mutoh America, Inc., which have a three-year outdoor durability rating.

"We complement the LT’s with Mutoh’s Ultima SC Pro 1650 64-inch cutters with MGE i-Cut technology. All projects are nested, tiled, and ripped through ONYX Graphics ProductionHouse software," notes Coppola. All design software, printers, cutters, and inks are purchased through the Orlando branch of Fujifilm. "Using Fujifilm as our only equipment vendor throughout the years allowed us to develop a great relationship with them and they always take care of us—whether it be training and setup or just a special, quick delivery of our inks when we are in desperate need," explains Salamacha.

As far as material goes, "You will not find anything else other than 3M in our house!" claims Coppola. "Our weapon of choice for all of our vehicle and marine applications is the new 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v2 Adhesive IJ180Cv2 with 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518."

Beyond Signs
Media 1 and Wrap This, Ink. constantly produce exciting projects for their customers. One job for Universal Studios’ Orlando theme park was bold, large-scale signage for the Fear Factor Live show. Other sign projects include food cart graphics, directional signage, and retail signs.

Marine graphics are also frequent requests at the shops. Personal and sponsored boats are covered with eye-catching graphics and branding. Recreational and speedboats require performance-tested substrates and highly skilled installers to help withstand the outdoor elements.

The company works directly with 3M and their new marine graphic warranty. The newest feature included with 3M v2 products is a two-year warranty. "3M wanted to partner with an experienced company involved in the marine industry and we were happy to help with the real life application of the 3M product in such an extreme environment," says Coppola.

Some of the marine graphics Wrap This, Ink. creates are for poker runs. During these multi-day events, boaters race a defined watercourse and stop at five checkpoints to retrieve their envelope-sealed playing cards. The boater with the best poker hand at the end of the run wins the event. These family-style outings are enhanced by a host of boats with eye-catching graphics.

Brew Ha Ha
Recently Wrap This, Ink. covered a 2008 Scion XB for Orange Blossom Pilsner (OBP, LLC). The owner uses a full size keg and tap on the outside of the vehicle for venues needing an on-site bartender. "What is cooler than your very own traveling brewery?" asks Coppola.

Growing in popularity in the Southeast, OBP is a beer made using a high percentage of orange blossom honey. It was first brewed over 20 years ago by Tom Moench, "King Bee," president, founder, OBP, LLC. "OBP is a crisp, celebratory kind of beer," says Coppola. "It is catching on like wildfire."

Starting as a home brew, there weren’t a lot of funds available for marketing the beer. Brandy Gill, owner/designer, Gill Design, discovered OBP in his local bar a few years back. "He noticed how poor the graphics were and offered to help. At that time there was no budget for design work but he happily worked for beer until a budget could be made," notes Coppola.

The idea of creating the OBP traveling brewery vehicle evolved on a whim. "Brainstorming at the pub one night it just came up," notes Moench. "Media 1 and Wrap This, Ink. came highly recommended from several knowledgeable friends. They did an incredible job and when I needed it done in a week they rose to the occasion and knocked it out in record time."

The OBP Scion job was printed with the Mutoh Toucan LT 64-inch on 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v2 Adhesive IJ180Cv2 and 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518. The vehicle was, "In and out in a day with two installers," says Coppola.

Wrap This, Ink. didn’t experience any major challenges with this wrap job. Although Coppola jokes, "Trying not to empty the keg while it was in the shop was hard!"

As for fitting the vehicle with the keg, "Team OBP is pretty astute when it comes to beer," comments Coppola. "They could put a draft system on a lawn mower."

OBP was very pleased with the work done by Wrap This, Ink. "We are totally ecstatic!" says Moench. "What a great way to promote our beer. Wherever the OBP mobile goes, heads will turn—beer fests, Bar Mitzvahs, you name it."

The wrap job is still new, but it is already generating response. "I have seen at least five people pull out a camera and take a picture of it," says Moench. "My representative said when he came out of our store this morning a fellow was circling the vehicle and taking pictures. The photographer said he enjoyed OBP in SC and did not realize it was available in FL."

Wrap This
Large format sign and wrap shops must be very price- and quality-competitive to stay afloat. To complement this it helps to have a diverse body of work to display to potential clients.

Wrap This, Ink.’s job for OBP is an example of such a project. This particular vehicle, in addition to their vast portfolio of work, help establish both Media 1 and Wrap This, Ink. as highly skilled innovators. Their quantity of repeat customers is an indicator of their success.

Jun2008, Digital Output

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