Perhaps the owners of Crystal Clear Imaging in Harahan, LA should have known they’d be up against a challenge when they opened their sign shop on April Fools Day. Arthur Boisfontaine, Johnny Davidson, and Guy Keller started the business back in 1999. Just into their sixth year of business, at the end of August 2005, they found themselves in the center of one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
As Crystal Clear Imaging and its employees faced the destruction of Hurricane Katrina acutely, things could have easily folded. Instead, a business molded similar to a family grew even stronger.
The Team Gets Back to Business
"Following the hurricane, we had to completely reorganize," says Boisfontaine. "We all had personal issues to overcome with our homes and families. Most everyone in our organization lost their homes—including myself."
Within a week the owners got in touch with all of the employees. "Everyone was eager to overcome the adversity we were going through," notes Boisfontaine. "We were ready to get back to work."
Crystal Clear Imaging suffered minor damage, but was fortunate that some equipment was still operational. All over New Orleans and beyond, people and businesses attempted to pick up the pieces and reopen. "We advertised all over the city, ‘Signs in 24 Hours,’" says Boisfontaine. "Within 12 hours, lines formed outside our front door. We housed our employees; therefore we just kept the business open 24 hours a day. We must have printed 250,000 signs in the first three months."
Within about five months business began to shift to more permanent storefront signs. Crystal Clear Imaging took on work from the casinos that were heavily affected by the storm as well. "They completely rebuilt the casinos on the Gulf Coast," notes Boisfontaine. "We did a huge volume of work for about a dozen casinos following the storm."
Getting in the Game
A revitalized Louisiana Superdome reopened just a year after the hurricane, in September 2006. Crystal Clear Imaging’s owners saw the reopening as an opportunity. "In the summer leading up to the opening of the Superdome, we decided to take a risk that paid off well for us," says Boisfontaine. "I thought with all of the work going on at the dome, there had to be some for us. We wound up getting the lion’s share of the business."
Crystal Clear Imaging made an impression on a number of people in the sports business, and went to became the official sign company of the New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans Voodoo arena football team, and the Arena Bowl 2007.
All Star Output
Crystal Clear Imaging was recently awarded the sign project for the NBA All Star game held February 2008 in New Orleans. "We practically wrapped the whole city," explains Boisfontaine. The shop worked directly with sponsor adidas, design firm Flying Colors, the NBA, and communications agency Posterscope.
The NBA All Star sign project was viewed by all of New Orleans. Output produced by Crystal Clear Imaging consisted of hotel interior signage, stadium signs, and dramatic building graphics. Much of the work was photographed by Michael Palumbo.
Substrates used on the project include FLEXcon Corporation’s BUSmark 3.5 mil opaque vinyl film, Oracal USA media with RapidAir Technology, and Crystal Clear mesh. Gandinnovations six-color and four-color five-meter machines with solvent ink were used to print the output. Finishing was completed using a CS-112 Cross Seamer—a hot air or hot wedge heat seamer and trimmer from Miller Weldmaster.
Crystal Clear Imaging and Extreme Media completed installation on the NBA All Star project. From submission to installation, the project took seven weeks to complete. "When it was over, I felt as if it took ten years off of my life, and 30 pounds in seven weeks. There was not much time to eat!" says Boisfontaine.
The All Star output created attention for Crystal Clear Imaging in 2008. "The response was unbelievable!" exclaims Boisfontaine. "People come up to me every day and ask if our company did all of the graphics for All Star. It is a thrill!"
Keeping the Pace
Today, Crystal Clear Imaging employs a team of 28 in production and ten installers in their nearly 60,000 square foot facility. In 2007, they brought in approximately $5 million in revenue. A large part of their business consists of wholesaling to the trade.
The shop produces everything from banners to billboard vinyls, vehicle graphics, signs, and more. Printers used include two Gandinnovations Jeti 3000 solvent printers, an Océ LightJet 430, a Gandinnovations five foot by ten foot UV flatbed, a 54-inch Roland print/cut eco-solvent printer, and a 64-inch Seiko eco-solvent printer. The Gandinnovations flatbed allows the shop to print directly to rigid, flat surfaces up to 2 inches thick—including wood, marble, ceiling tile, and Plexiglas.
For finishing, Crystal Clear Imaging was the Miller Weldmaster Cross Seamer, a CNC router with MGE, Inc.’s i-cut cutting system, and a GBC Pro-tech Falcon 60+ for mounting and laminating output up to 60 inches wide. The shop also houses a complete sewing department.
To keep business growing Crystal Clear Imaging does a great job of promoting their business through networking, word of mouth, and online at www.ccimaging.net. The company’s home page features a cityscape with interactive links that showcase the array of graphics solutions the shop offers. Also viewable is the shop’s impressive portfolio.
Catering to the trend of multimedia and electronic signage, Crystal Clear Imaging added Dynamic Digital Display Networks to their offerings. The system consists of media players and plasma or LCD screens that deliver marketing content fed from their central server. They market the displays for use in sites such as car washes, supermarkets, casinos, transit systems, hotels, and elevators.
Other recent work produced by Crystal Clear Imaging includes a stadium redo for the New Orleans Voodoo. The busy shop is currently working on a project that will be installed at the end of March at the San Diego Padres baseball stadium.
Strong principles, effective marketing, and a true family atmosphere make Crystal Clear Imaging a winning team. "Our company and employees are the best! I have never seen a team assembled anywhere that is dedicated like ours," notes Boisfontaine.
When the business and staff were bombarded by natural disaster, they pulled themselves up, and drew the attention of major league clients. "We always say, ‘Failure is not an option,’ and if you ‘want to survive, think big!’"