What You Missed: Roland’s ‘Born to Wrap’ Workshop

Training tips and tricks for car wrapping.

Matt Richart and Dallas Fowler, co-owners of Louisville, Kentucky’s Digital EFX Wraps, hosted a two-day Roland DGA “Born to Wrap – Basics and Beyond” workshop in April. The class, sponsored by Avery Dennison, is part of a nationwide series aimed at graphic designers, production managers, print operators, graphics installers, and shop owners looking to expand their businesses. Big Picture’s associate editors attended Day One of the training to learn all about vinyl wrapping in the classroom and on the shop floor.

Nineteen installers attended the wrap training – some from suburbs of Louisville (including two Digital EFX Wraps employees looking to gain more installation experience) or surrounding states, while others traveled hundreds of miles from Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida. Attendees’ level of familiarity with vinyl ranged from no prior experience to 18 years in the signage and graphics industry; some eager installers had backgrounds in teaching, flooring, car detailing, or plumbing, while others brought knowledge from the wide-format, signage, and vehicle wrapping industries, from design and production standpoints. One thing all class attendees had in common? A desire to master the ins and outs of vehicle wrapping.

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Back to School

“Our goal today is for attendees to walk away with confidence,” Richart said, welcoming the class to the first day of training. Day One of the workshop began with a “nickel tour” of Digital EFX Wraps’ 6800-square-foot facility – the third location the shop’s inhabited since its inception in 2004 in a 1400-square-foot space with a single Roland wide-format printer. The shop’s multiple machines are now housed right in the front of the building: a strategic move that helps Digital EFX Wraps close 90 percent of potential jobs when a client visits the shop. There’s just something about seeing a large-format printer in action that piques a customer’s interest: “If you have a big client coming in, make sure that your printer is running. Load in some paper or banner material and show them that you’re doing work in house,” Richart explained.

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Next, the class headed upstairs to the shop’s classroom area for Vehicle Wraps 101. Richart and Fowler – both 20-year vinyl-wrapping-industry veterans – presented a rundown of everything a wrap dabbler or expert needs to know when expanding a wrap business, from printing and laminating to vehicle prep, sales/marketing, installation, trimming, finishing, shop setup, and quality control. Richart stressed the importance of seeing a vehicle in person and taking photos before wrapping it to avoid problems with unwrappable areas, rear windows, and other potential issues. Fowler emphasized how important it is to develop a streamlined workflow: “How can you do something 10 times and have it turn out the same every time? It’s all about process – pin down a process that works.”

Wrap Class

kelseyReady to put all that newly acquired classroom knowledge to use, the cohort headed to the shop floor for some hands-on learning. After an overview of tools and materials, Fowler demonstrated everything from wrapping a flat surface to the nuances involved in installing vinyl on corners, ridges, bumpers, and door handles. Armed with tips, tricks, tool belts, and squeegees, attendees grabbed scraps of vinyl and got to work wrapping car hoods, doors, and sides, with Fowler and Richart ready to offer advice when any issues cropped up – including one of our editor’s propensity for squeegeeing her way into a very wrinkled corner.

After an exciting and educational first day, attendees returned to Digital EFX Wraps for a second day spent installing a full car wrap emblazoned with a Born to Wrap graphic. Some installers opted to stay for a third day of training focused on business and design, covering “everything from marketing, generating new business, and working with different types of customers, pricing jobs effectively,” and using Roland VersaWorks software, according to the training website.

Tips from the Experts

  • “Do not over-design your vehicle, even for flashy wraps that are just for show.” –Richart
  • “Brand your work. We put our name on the back of our wraps.” –Richart
  • “The first thing to master? Learn how the material works – how they heat, how they tuck around a corner.” –Fowler
  • “You’re essentially designing, printing, and installing custom suits for vehicles. Use that.” –Richart
  • “Wrap the bumper first to make the artwork look like it wraps around the front.” –Fowler
  • “We’re in a custom world. There’s a niche inside of a niche – but custom jobs don’t pay the bills. Find your niche and learn to say ‘no.’” –Richart
  • “Whatever you’re making money off of – screen printing, embroidery, wide format – advertise it on your wrap and let that be a sales tool.” –Richart
  • “Consider how it comes off – cheaper materials are harder to remove.” –Fowler
  • “Don’t give away artwork for free, and don’t call it an artwork deposit. Protect your margin and simplify the invoice.” –Richart

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