By Melissa Donovan
Trade-only wholesale printers are one of the best ways to offer your customers your service, minus the hassle of learning a new technology, application, or trade. A business partnership at the core, a trade-only wholesale printer is designed to act as an extension of a print service provider (PSP). It holds all of the same values you do—quick turnaround and quality product—but is equipped to handle it all at a great price for you and the customer.
Above: Yard Sing Ninjas’ most popular item is corrugated plastic signs paired with the company’s exclusive patented wire stands.
The most transparent reason to partner with a trade-only wholesale printer is because it has the capability to print a job that the PSP does not. However, there are other scenarios where outsourcing is an alternative to taking a project in house.
Addressing the obvious, using a trade-only wholesale printer to complete a job that a PSP cannot, Kent Dunham, VP sales, Showdown Displays, shares that a large, trade-only printer can produce products that cannot be printed at a PSP’s location, such as dye-sublimation, large banners, silicone edge graphics, and table throws. “Having a trade-only partner allows these print locations to supplement current offerings and provide a broader assortment of products and services for their clients.”
Michael Oliveras, owner, SignCenter LLC, believes that because the industry has expanded drastically in the past 20 years in types of processes and media it is impossible for small and medium PSPs to invest in the equipment and knowledge to supply all the potential demands from customers.
“At the same time, no one wants to see a customer turn to a competitor who can supply those products. Trade printers help to level the competitive landscape and enable smaller PSPs to provide a full catalog of printed materials,” continues Oliveras.
Beyond not having the capability to produce a project in house, cost should be a consideration. “Most trade-only printers end up with raw material buying power due to the volume of business they are doing. PSPs can take advantage of that and get printed products produced for cheaper than they can do it themselves,” admits Jeff Hartman, master sign sensei/owner, Yard Sign Ninjas.
For example, when a customer needs only ten feet of specialty media like reflective vinyl, there is no need to buy an $800 150-foot roll of material that might not sell for a year or more, comments Oliveras. “Trade printers run thousands of feet of specialty media a year, and stock boards by the pallet. When a PSP asks a trade printer for a quote, they know exactly what their project will cost.”
Meeting a customer’s quick turnaround request is another reason to use a wholesale printer. “The PSP may have the capability to produce an order in house, but the speed at which the end user needs the product could keep them from winning the bid. Lower quantities are easier to handle quickly in house; however, they may need to sub the higher quantity jobs out to complete them per the end user’s demands,” explains Hartman.
Profit margins on certain orders could also push a PSP to utilize a wholesale printer. According to Hartman, PSPs should ask themselves, “why tie up my flatbed printer to print low-margin yard signs, when I could be filling the press with high-margin point of purchase work?”
Spacing constraints are another reason. “Doing all your sign printing in house takes up a great deal of room in your facility. Creating room for grand format printers and stocking standard inventory uses crucial building space and is very costly,” suggests Jim Schwieger, national sales and marketing director, Miratec Systems.
Extension of a PSP
PSPs should consider trade-only wholesale printers as an extension of their business, with the goal of protecting customers’ best interests.
“Trade-only printers’ lifeblood are the PSPs. We are a tool in your arsenal, we take on risk of investing in the latest and greatest equipment, we employ experience and share knowledge to the betterment of all,” adheres Hartman.
“The best wholesale printers are invisible,” admits Oliveras. SignCenter has on occasion had PSPs’ customers ask to see the PSP’s production facility. On those days, the customer actually comes to SignCenter’s location and the SignCenter team wears shirts with the PSP’s logos, adds the PSP’s branding around the shop, and plays the role of the PSP’s remote large format and volume facility.
“Since these companies are wholesale, they will never compete for your customers, you can think of them as an extension of your own manufacturing,” adds Schwieger.
Dunham agrees, stressing the importance of a wholesale printer being a “silent” partner. “A wholesale printer should never sell directly to consumers, because this erodes the trust between the PSP and their partner. The wholesaler should also have a strong guarantee so the PSP is backed up in case their customer is not satisfied.”
The beauty of partnering with a wholesale printer is that the partnership can occur frequently or sporadically—it all depends on the wants and needs of the PSP at any given time.
Hartman believes the kinds of equipment the PSP owns influences this. “If the PSP is working out of their house they sub everything and order a lot. Vice versa, a PSP with a print facility may have a breakeven quantity that they sub everything out after hitting that mark, which will lead to intermittent ordering.”
The frequency depends on capabilities and target industries, according to Dunham. “In this competitive landscape, it becomes extremely valuable to offer product lines beyond those normally associated with traditional printing. Most printers are starting to see the importance of outsourcing the products and services their customers are asking for rather than risking the loss of those customers.”
What to Look For
Many trade-only wholesale printers operate in the market today. PSPs should look for a partner that mirrors its own business practice standards and looks out for their needs.
4over, LLC is an online wholesale trade printer who understands that speed to delivery is essential. 4over serves over a hundred North American markets in Canada and the U.S. with local delivery and pickup. Some of its newest product offerings include aluminum prints and banner stand displays.
In addition to trust and quality, more business-savvy needs should be examined. Schwieger recommends looking at the wholesale printer’s warranty. “Most claim to have a full warranty but in the fine print it states that they will only cover raw material and at a pro-rated amount. Reputable printers provide full, non-pro-rated warranties.”
Miratec Systems celebrates over 30 years of experience and innovation. It offers several services and solutions that make it stand out from the competition. Its PureColor Technology offers frontlit and backlit color consistency. Super Slice eliminates seams and dark lines in large vinyl graphics. The company also offers a two, five, and seven year 100 percent full-coverage warranty.
“Find a wholesale partner that emphasizes service, industry knowledge, and quality over having just the lowest price. Your reputation as a PSP rests with the quality of the product that you are reselling,” recommends Oliveras.
SignCenter not only takes a serious interest in investing in technology, but in people. It employs nearly as many customer facing employees as production personnel. This is because it’s nice for the PSP to know there is someone in the SignCenter facility that cares for their project as much as they would if it were produced in house. Staff go above and beyond, sometimes sending pictures of projects as they go through the production process or when they are ready to ship.
Signs365 is a trade-only wholesale printer based in Shelby, MI. It offers 24 hour standard production time, guaranteed rush delivery, and overnight delivery anywhere in the U.S.
On-time delivery and 100 percent print quality satisfaction is an important trait in any trade-only wholesale printer. “After all, quality and timeliness are ultimately handed down to the client. Finally, a good wholesale print partner should provide a variety of sales and marketing tools to make selling products as easy as possible,” adds Dunham.
Showdown Displays offers a breadth of product offerings for both indoor and outdoor displays, as well as one of the largest inventories of hardware in stock. It also features free virtual mock up services, so partners can better envision the final result of work before it’s completed. Products arrive on time or they’re free, according to the company.
“While each PSP will have their own set of personal standards to define how a product would look ‘if I did it myself’ there must be trust that the product sent directly to the end user will live up to the use case,” says Hartman.
Yard Sign Ninjas concentrates almost exclusively on yard signs. Its most popular item is corrugated plastic signs paired with the company’s exclusive patented wire stands. The company is highly skilled in creating any size quantity of yard signs in quick turnaround times at some of the best prices. An emerging product in Yard Sign Ninjas’ portfolio is bag signs. According to the company, marketing campaigns demand easy-to-use, economical, and recyclable products and bag signs meet this need.
Hartman says savvy PSPs always look for the best method to produce a product—whether in house or at another facility. Don’t count trade-only wholesale printers out. The right partner is invisible and functions solely for your needs.
May2019, Digital Output