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Sustaining Business as the Industry Evolves


Massive Graphics Keeps Ahead of the Game


By Melissa Donovan


Part 1 of 2


Massive Graphics Displays Exhibits, of Fredericton, NB, Canada, is an innovative digital print provider. In business since 1997, the company is known for its ability to offer clients services ranging from vehicle wraps and trade show graphics to museum displays. This two-part article focuses on the company’s history and a particular application for Enbridge Gas.


Cave-Like Beginnings

Massive Graphics began in the basement of Sterling and Joanne Keays’ home. At the time, a 36-inch Encad Novajet Pro digital printer, desktop scanner, and computer made up their technological portfolio. Unsure of which direction to go in, the Keays started after the consumer market, attending trade shows and promoting large custom canvas prints. Experiencing a little trial and error, they soon realized they were pursing the wrong market.


“Since making that decision, I would like to say it has been clear sailing for the last 13 years, but it has not. It always seemed like we were fighting an uphill battle, but in reality, we have been experiencing slow and steady growth—with a few exceptions,” shares Sterling Keays, president, Massive Graphics.


The couple moved out of their “basement cave” in 1998 and after habituating several buildings, in 2006 they found themselves in their present location. The Keays designed a 4,500 square foot custom-built studio, which includes two Mimaki USA, Inc. printers, another device from Hewlett-Packard Designjet 5500, two laminators—one from General Binding Corporation and the other from Neschen Americas, Contex A/S’ SD4430 wide format scanner, and a 54-inch vinyl cutter from Summa, Inc. They also lease a 1,100 square foot location nearby for use as a vehicle wrapping facility and to store additional hardware.


Throughout Massive Graphics’ various moves, the staff fluctuated from one to ten members. They currently employ a staff of seven, but are looking to hire more in the near future.


Keays says the company mainly serves the greater Fredericton area, but does work with clients throughout Canada and the U.S. “In the last few years we enjoyed steady growth in the U.S. This is not necessarily products being shipped to the U.S., but U.S. clients requiring the use of our products within Canada.”


A Keen Eye for Detail

An innovative approach is how Massive Graphics differentiates itself from competitors. For example, their vehicle graphics, which make up a third of the company’s business—Keays makes sure that time is spent in the studio to create an eye-catching design. As he points out, if done incorrectly, vehicle wraps can not only destroy a company’s image, but do serious damage to the vehicle.


The company recently noticed a drop off in their trade show business due to the popularity of networking via the Internet. However, the Keays compensated for this by moving into other specialized arenas. For example, although Massive Graphics has always offered displays for museums and galleries, they only did the printing, the design and fixture construction was outsourced.


The last few jobs that came through the shop, Massive Graphics created from design to finished product. In South Maitland, NS, Canada, the Fundy Tidal Interpretative Center required the staff to research, write, photograph, design, produce, and install 8,000 square feet of wall graphics and numerous didactic panels throughout the 1,100 square foot exhibit. They even wrapped a tidal clock to match the background design.


The research portion of any project is one of the challenges Keays regularly encounters. “Most clients want to show every little detail about their subject because they are passionate about it and feel everyone should be able to enjoy it in its entirety.”


To satisfy the client, his staff must carefully evaluate all of the materials involved—from the physical objects to the text—and make sure they are creating an interesting and easy to understand display.


At press time, Massive Graphics was in the process of working on a backdrop for a dinosaur museum. The problem, no one knows what vegetation in NB looked like two hundred and fifty million years ago; and the challenge, to bring attention to the main display, not the background graphics.


Making Moves

It is important for a print provider to watch the industry and anticipate change, this allows them to stay ahead of competitors and keep business afloat. Massive Graphics has been able to do just that, transitioning from a small basement shop to a 4,500 square foot space. Keays’ realization that trade show graphics’ demand is declining and his decision to engage in new avenues shows the company’s commitment in growing with the industry. Read more about Massive Graphics in part two of this series. An application for Enbridge Gas is discussed in detail and Keays shares what is next for the company.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Aug2010, Digital OutputDOWF910

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