Born in a Garage

From a two-car garage to a 8500-square-foot shop, Spectra Imaging has expanded floor space and product offerings to become a one-stop shop.

Brian Rogers has always been in the printing business. He got his start working with his father, a photographer who branched out into photo processing. He then spent 30 years in the printing industry in production and sales roles for a few different PSPs. In 2006, his wife, Leslie, posed the question: Why work for other printers, when we could work for ourselves? Louisville, Kentucky-based Spectra Imaging was born in a two-car garage using solely the couple’s savings – they didn’t want to take on loans – with a computer and a single 42-inch printer. 

Two years later, business was booming with large clients including Kroger – despite the sagging economy that shuttered many shops – so they moved to a larger space. Every year or two since, the company has added more square footage to their shop to meet the demands of their growing operation. 

In addition to the husband-and-wife team at the helm, Spectra Imaging employs four team members – three full time and one part time – who work in the 8500-square-foot facility. Projects run the gamut from basic yard signs, window graphics, and banners to custom jobs, such as a wrap with a Plexiglas structure that looks like bourbon pouring from a barrel, which camouflages a Kentucky restaurant’s unsightly backup generator.

Being a one-stop shop grew out of Rogers’ primary goal to produce quality work. He’s learned firsthand that outsourcing – and letting go of control – can lead to mistakes or delays, which reflects poorly on Spectra Imaging in the eyes of the customer. With so many long-term patrons, Rogers doesn’t want to risk errors. “When we’ve outsourced, sometimes they do a great job, but sometimes the job gets messed up. It comes back to us, and when the client says they need their order, we have to explain what’s going on,” he adds. 

Because the operation doesn’t involve dozens of employees, Spectra Imaging relies on an efficient but low-tech method for tracking their jobs internally. Each employee has a personalized stamp that goes on the job ticket as a project moves from design to print to finishing to installation.  

Customer demand typically drives expansion. Rogers has to balance a conservative business approach with the desire to maintain quality and control by avoiding outsourcing. He often will spend a year or two assessing if they truly need to invest in a new machine, but when a bottleneck is clear or customer needs increase, Rogers opts to make the purchase. 

With his many years in the printing world, Rogers says the biggest change he sees today is that print buyers want their job completed faster, which is another reason to keep all elements of a project under one roof. He maintains a steady roster of clients by subscribing to a philosophy of producing high-quality work on time. “My guys in production know that if it doesn’t look right, it’s got to be done over again,” Rogers says.

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