By Cassandra Balentine
Many print service providers (PSPs) can make a living with vehicle wraps, from coups to food trucks; businesses promote goods and services on the road, in parking lots, and everywhere in between. While vehicle wraps are a tried and- true method to generate revenue, a little creativity can go a long way. Non-traditional wraps cover items like instruments and decor, adding another dimension to an ordinary object or environment.
Established in 1998 and based in Arlington Heights, IL, Graphic Alliance Inc. works out of a 3,500 square foot facility. The full-service marketing firm specializes in print and digital media. With nearly 12 employees, the company offers a range of services including graphic and web design, digital marketing, large format printing, and vehicle wraps.
To produce its range of offerings, the PSP relies on several pieces of digital printing and finishing equipment, including a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 printer/cutter, a Graphic Finishing Partners LLC (Gfp) 563TH Top Heat Laminator, and another laminator from SEAL, part of Acco Brands.
Eric Grossman, CEO, Graphic Alliance, estimates that half of its business is signage, one fourth is wrapping, and the rest is split between menus, banners, displays, window, and wall graphics.
Graphic Alliance’s wrap skills translate to objects other than vehicles. For instance, the shop once wrapped an antique refrigerator in purple and pink, donning the company’s name and other graphical elements. “The fridge was an eye sore. Matt Gorske is our creative senior level designer and came up with the idea for it,” says Grossman. Outside of internal use, the shop thinks outside of the box to go above and beyond for its customers.
Recently, the team created an exhibit for the National Hellenic Museum, “The Street is My Gallery.” The exhibit showcases political-based street art from Athens, Greece. The Graphic Alliance team took photographs of the graffiti, enlarged them, and printed using its Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 and Mactac Distributor Products IMAGin ROODLE vinyl for wall graphics.
These were laminated with its Gfp 536TH and SEAL laminators using Mactac’s IMAGin RoughRAP with Permacolor Matte RAYZor laminate. The massive design covered three levels of the museum, which equated to 5,000 square feet over 16 rooms. In addition to the wall wrap, the museum curators wanted to complement the wrapped walls with 32, two- by two-foot boxes stacked in threes and scattered throughout the rooms. These boxes were wrapped as well, accenting the wall graphics.
Once the museum requested the boxes and Grossman suggested using a matte vinyl and laminate to eliminate glare. He says the turnaround was quick. “The client was five days late getting us the files, leaving us with three days to print and install 3,000 square feet,” recalls Grossman.
For installation, the team was divided into three units—printer and cutter, driver and extra hands, and two installers. “We worked straight through 60 hours,” he says.
As previously noted, vehicle wraps make up a good portion—25 percent—of Graphic Alliance’s business. Of that, Grossman says that a majority—50 percent of that is printed vehicle graphics, while 48 percent is color, two- and three-tone accents, and the remaining two percent is color change wraps.
Because vehicle wraps represent such an important aspect of the business, the company has a dedicated division known as Elite Fleet Vinyl. When the shop wraps a customer’s vehicle, they become part of the Elite Fleet of custom wraps.
Grossman explains the company wants to take wraps to another level, offering vehicle wraps as low as $500 to entice consumers to buy and change them out regularly. Due to the amount of wraps done, it has enough extra materials to make these low-cost wraps a reality. “We’re trying to get it to a point where you can purchase a wrap as a gift for the person who has everything,” adds Grossman.
In addition to printed vehicle wraps promoting businesses, Graphic Alliance and Elite Fleet Vinyl have taken a step away from the traditional and create layered wraps that offer a three-dimensional effect. “We’re using four or five types of different materials together to produce accents. First we put Mactac IMAGin ROODLE down and use different thicknesses of satin chrome vinyl to give the effect of a raised textured surface,” says Grossman.
Success through Creativity
It is clear that Graphic Alliance marches to the beat of its own drum. Offering a range of services with a side of creativity is the key to success for this print provider.
Sep2016, Digital Output