A Creative Collaboration that Inspires
By Melissa Donovan
Some may argue that it is an idealistic, philosophical way to look at business; but a true partnership stems from trust, inspiration, and understanding. InkJet International and Performance Companies, both located in Dallas, TX, symbolize this type of partnership.
A year of introspection, planning, and creation generated the POP Revolution Summer 2009 Tour in August 2009. The event was a full-day tour of InkJet International and Performance Companies’ facilities.
The Boomerang EffectBack in October 2008 Alok Sarna, VP, InkJet International, was flying to Atlanta, GA, to attend the SGIA trade show. John White, founder and Chris Pumpelly, owner, Performance Companies, were on the same flight. Sarna overheard the men speaking and introduced himself. White and Pumpelly toured InkJet International’s facility prior to the encounter on the plane, and remembered how impressed they were with the day-to-day business activity. The three men promised to connect after the show.
A few months later Sarna and Taylor White, VP, sales and marketing, Performance Companies met to share ideas in what Sarna refers to as a “get to know you session.” Both men felt that their shops complemented each other.
“Despite the fact we have some overlapping capabilities, there was never a feeling of risk that we were sharing marketing dollars, product ideas, and customer bases,” says White.
Working together they could expand customer contacts by outsourcing or referring each other to clients. The idea was, “the very opposite of the capitalistic society we live in. Instead, you are trusting in the boomerang philosophy,” admits Sarna.
Both companies work closely with advertising agencies, other print shops, and corporate customers to create point of purchase (POP) signage on a regular basis. InkJet International, celebrating 15 years in business, specializes in large format printing solutions such as vinyl banners, billboards, fleet and vehicle graphics, building wraps, event and trade show displays, wall murals, poster printing, digital dŽcor, and more. Performance Companies, founded in 1981, offers specialty services such as UV printing on plastics and paper and inline aqueous and UV coatings, which translate to one-of-a-kind POP applications.
At the meeting, both parties agreed they were tired of the negativity surrounding the current economic situation. To remedy it, they decided to develop a positive tone for their own businesses, as well as customers. And so POP Revolution was born.
The Psychedelic ’70sRight away two themes were established, or pillars, according to Sarna and White, that defined the POP Revolution—collaboration and creativity. Both businesses were willing to collaborate to showcase new media, materials, and applications to an integrated customer base using an entertaining, positive approach. The point, in Sarna’s words, was for attendees to feel valued and obtain value from the event. “We wanted our guests to receive valuable information they could apply to their businesses. And from that, we hoped to be treated as a trusted advisor,” he explains.
Both Sarna and White contacted several of their vendors, who worked closely with the print providers to stage the POP Revolution. The vendors eventually became sponsors of the event, and representatives gave presentations to the attendees. InkJet International utilizes a variety of large format Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers in their shop including the HP Scitex XP5300, FB6100, and TJ8300 printers. Additionally, their local media vendor, FLEXcon Corporation, was heavily involved. Performance Companies recruited Transilwrap Company, Inc., their frequently used plastics manufacturer, as a media partner for the event.
“The support we received from our suppliers truly made the event work. They not only provided valuable content and personnel, but much needed fiscal support,” comments White.
Building on the idea of a revolution, Sarna and White looked to the 1970s for inspiration—a time of collaboration and creativity. The two companies hired a double-decker bus to transport attendees between the print facilities and around the city to dining venues. A mix of ’70s-era music played throughout the day. Additionally, themed prizes were handed out, including tickets to Paul McCartney’s Summer concert tour and coupons for The Beatles: Rock Band game.
Invitations were mailed to both InkJet International and Performance Companies’ customers. Performance Companies printed the invites on Transilwrap Azuna 3D paper to create a “trippy” effect. Simplistic, yet eye-catching, the border of the invitation shared the date and time, provided a URL to drive people to a landing page where they could RSVP and grab more information, and outlined the purpose of the event—“to provide a fun-filled day of education and inspiring ideas for specialty in-store POP, out of home, and new print media and technologies.”
Peace, Purpose, and PassionFrom 9 to 6 o’clock on August 19, 2009, InkJet International and Performance Companies welcomed approximately 65 attendees between their two facilities. Sarna says the targeted attendee number was 40 to 50. “For a first time event, it felt like it was a successful number. Not too large, as we wanted it to be intimate,” he shares.
The day’s schedule included tours of the facilities—where the vendor presentations were held, lunch, and an after party at the American Airlines Center. The opening of the event included a short Power Point presentation consisting of key lyrics from ’70s music to reinforce the themes of collaboration and creativity. For example, The Beatles’ Come Together backed the idea of collaboration and working together.
Sarna, who narrated the presentation, stressed three ideas—peace, purpose, and passion. “In a marketplace that seems to be quite negative, we want to bring some positive spirit to it. In order to do that, you must look at things in a grounded way, and when you do, you have peace. When you are peaceful, you develop a purpose, and from there you find passion,” he explains.
While touring the InkJet International facility HP representative Terry Hale discussed the benefits of printing POP on HP printers. FLEXcon representative, Mike Chevalier, discussed various out-of-the-box case studies using FLEXcon products. For example, he touched upon how floor and shelf graphics transform retail environments. A sporting goods store created a stream graphic and placed it in their fishing pole merchandising area and sales increased.
At Performance Companies, POP products utilizing thermo-inks and plastics including polystyrene, polycarbonate, PVC vinyl, polyester, and Teslin were on display. From Performance Companies’ Optigraphics division, the Opticup beverage cup product line was shown. Flat, plastic sheets of Transilwrap media are offset printed at over 300 dpi at speeds of over 140 cups per minute.
Attendees received a tool box goodie bag filled with treats. The box, printed and designed by Performance Companies with an offset printer on Transilwrap’s 30-mil Bio Pro-Print plastic, was another way to show the printers’ clients how to create innovative POP. Samples of applications showcased at the event, product literature, swatch books, a pen, pad of paper, and more were packed into the kit.
“Being in print and merchandise for over nine years, I’ve witnessed numerous print techniques and manufacturing processes. I found this tour informative, interesting, and fun. The spirit of peace, purpose, and passion injected into the event gave a whole new experience to manufacturer tours. Particularly exciting was the observation of the large format press,” comments Donna L. Scarpelli, senior production manager, G2 Branding and Design.
The marketing company is based in New York, NY and offers services in digital communications, direct marketing, data analytics, shopper marketing, design, and promotional marketing.
The Never Ending TourCrafting an innovative event that showcases company strengths is an excellent way to generate profit, build relationships—both customer and peer, and market your services. The process may be long and involved, but the outcome is certainly fruitful. Sarna and White received positive feedback from the POP Revolution’s attendees, which encouraged them to plan future events.
Larger tours, such as the August 2009 one, will showcase new equipment and applications. Mini tours, conducted via WebEx or videos placed on Web sites, are another idea. "We have the intention to do something of value quarterly. We stress value because we don’t want to waste customers’ time," Sarna adds.
Dec2009, Digital Output