By Cassandra Balentine
Print service providers (PSPs) look for versatile solutions that enable many types of graphics without sacrificing quality or productivity. One popular application is point of purchase (POP) and display graphics, which require a range of varied collateral that is typically changed out frequently.
Jenny Anderson-Giese, a graphic designer by trade, opened RPM Graphics, Inc. in 1999. At that time, the company primarily focused on graphic design and operated out of one room of her house in Dayton, MN.
Today, the shop offers wide format printing, including posters, banners, canvas gallery wraps, foam core signs, and yard signs. It also produces and installs vehicle graphics, commercial real estate signs, and building signage. Its clients are primarily in the Twin Cities metro area. However, it also serves corporate customers with out-of-state locations. It has two employees and 3,600 square feet of space, in Rogers, MN, but it is looking to expand on both fronts in the near future.
Chuck Giese, VP/sales/installation, RPM Graphics, joined the company full time in March of 2006. He offers a breakdown of the business, pointing out that approximately 81 percent of its sales come from its digital wide format printing services.
Upgrading Equipment and Offerings
The shop regularly produces POP graphics. Giese estimates that about 62 percent of its wide format business is this type of work. Due to the range of applications that fall under this category, equipment versatility is critical. The company decided it was time to invest in a digital solution in 2005. Giese admits that it was daunting, but something that needed to be done to progress and expand its capabilities. A Roland DGA Corporation VersaCAMM SP-540 eco-solvent printer/cutter was selected. “In our eyes, it added to the professional capabilities of our company,” shares Giese.
Today, the shop’s equipment portfolio looks much different. It operates two Mutoh America, Inc. eco-solvent printers—the 63-inch ValueJet 1624 and 54-inch ValueJet 1324. For finishing, it relies on two laminators—a 54- and 63-inch, a 54-inch cutter plotter.
The Mutoh printers were added in 2008. They offer the speed and print quality the shop relies on for display and POP work. Additionally, they provide the ability to switch from vinyl to banners and canvas.
Giese says the Mutoh printers were selected for two primary reasons. The first was because they are not printer/cutter combination printers. The plan was to keep those services as separate operations, on separate machines. “This decision was based on becoming more productive and adding speed,” he explains.
The second reason revolved around service. Giese felt that a locally represented company would enable a close working relationship that would pay off when needing service or training.
The POP and display work RPM Graphics creates is popular and varied. One vertical the shop serves often is non-profits, including churches and schools. “Our favorite customer is Feed My Starving Children (FMSC),” admits Giese. Based out of Coon Rapids, MN the organization has a total of seven locations nationwide.
RPM Graphics produces a lot of work for the non-profit. For example, it creates marketplace displays for FMSC’s corporate locations and mobile packing events all over the country. These are foam core signs, printed on adhesive-backed vinyl with Mutoh printers. They are laminated, mounted to foam core, and then trimmed. Easels are added to the back of most of them as well.
Gallery wraps are produced to show the success of the non-profit organization. They are canvas displays that show children that have flourished with the help of FMSC. The wraps are printed with a Mutoh printer onto canvas, trimmed, and manually wrapped.
The company also creates work for special events. FMSC holds two galas annually, one that takes place in Minneapolis, MN and the other in Rosemont, IL. A recent FMSC gala required over 80 foam core signs, dye-sub signs, large wall graphics, and banner displays—up to 20×20 feet.
With projects for FMSC, the shop typically has about a week to turn it around from the point of receiving the digital artwork, and most are set up for production.
The various products are displayed for different time frames. For instance, the gala displays are only showcased for the length of the gala. Marketplace displays are typically in place for each season, and graphics at the office and packing locations are in place much longer.
RPM Graphics is now in the position to make its next move, and is eyeing flatbed printers. “We are exploding at the seams and are looking at further expanding our company,” concludes Giese.
June2017, Digital Output