Established over 45 years ago, Miller Zell, Inc. is a retail solutions provider. The company utilizes an integrated strategy that incorporates design, printing, finishing, transportation, and installation—including the removal of outdated graphics.
The provider operates numerous facilities to provide the infrastructure necessary to deliver integrated store design and implementation services. In addition to 660,000 feet of space on its Atlanta, GA campus, it also maintains facilities in Mississauga and Woostock, ON, Canada; Bentonville, AR; Chicago, IL; as well as China.
Miller Zell’s fixtures and large format division—based out of Atlanta, GA—produces wide and superwide graphics using a mix of screen, digital, and offset. Bill Barnes, plant manager, Miller Zell, notes a shift to digital, particularly in the past few years. “Last year ended just under 50 percent digital, with a little more than 50 percent screenprinting. This year is starting out strong in digital,” he says. “We’re in the process of purchasing more digital equipment and decommissioning some older screen equipment, as we are keeping some presses to help in the process of hybrid printing where we print traditional screen on portions and fill in the other areas with variable data or four-color process images.”
The increased use of digital printing comes from both client demand and continued education on what is possible in terms of customization and short runs. Barnes says many of its direct marketing clients are beginning to recognize the opportunity for more localized signage.
This type of personalization is only cost effective with the use of digital technologies. Through a dialogue with its customers, Miller Zell offers examples of the customizations it can do with its digital capabilities. As more clients are educated on the benefits of digital, the appeal of one-off graphics grows.
The company is currently in the process of adding to its digital portfolio, which consists of an Inca Digital Printers Onset S40 from Fujifilm North America Corporation—a six-color device, featuring two white channels in addition to the four-color CMYK process. The print provider also operates EFI VUTEk GS3200 digital wide format hybrid printers. For finishing, it relies on flatbed routers from Esko.
Aisle Take Over
Miller Zell prides itself on the ability to produce eye-catching graphics and point of purchase (POP) displays that encompass functionality with branding and marketing within retail environments. Crayola is part of a long list of high-profile clients.
Crayola acknowledged that it faced new challenges as its portfolio jumped from a handful of items to more than 200 SKUs. The addition of new products—such as ink and paper technology—led to a significant jolt in the brand’s presence. However, this growth led to sudden fragmentation and shopper confusion over where to find specific products.
Miller Zell worked with its client to design an in-store destination that drew from Crayola brand elements and art-based lifestyle imagery to highlight categories found under the Crayola brand umbrella.
“Crayola had a well-recognized brand and logo, but they wanted to really unify the brand,” recalls Barnes. The graphics for the campaign were designed to achieve organization and improve shopper navigation while preserving a strong branding identity.
The campaign included a partnership between Crayola and select big box retail chains. Developed to incorporate Crayola’s entire product portfolio, a large display spanned approximately six to seven feet in height and 20 to 30 feet in length. The actual size per piece was dependent on aisle availability, as each store was unique.
Working with Crayola’s team to complete the graphics, Miller Zell produced a mock-up in their facility to illustrate the final product. Once approved, the displays rolled out to just under 200 stores nationwide. They were designed to remain in place from between six months to two years, depending on the location.
The printing process required both screen and digital. For example, the top of each display incorporated a wavy, six-inch high banner that covered the length of the entire piece and was screenprinted on styrene. Additional components were produced using digital, specifically an Inca Onset S20.
POP with Purpose