Mercury-LDO turns customers employees into Elfs
By Jake Widman
The two halves of the Mercury-LDO (mercury-ldo.com) name had very different beginnings. LDO launched its business in the late 1970s as a traditional reprographics shop, serving the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) market in and around London, England. “In 1992, owner Ray Martin saw the opportunity with all the construction in Las Vegas and, with his partner, opened an office in Las Vegas,” recounts current operations director Steve Martin. “A couple of years later they, severed all their ties with London.”
Mercury, on the other hand, was American born and bred, founded as Mercury Blueprint and Supply Company in 1954 by Joseph Robichaud. In 1998, both firms were acquired by the American Reprographics Company. “We continued to operate as competitors for a year,” says Martin, “and then ARC decided it would be to their best advantage to merge us together. At that point we became Mercury-LDO.” The company now employs around 45 people in Las Vegas and also has operations in Colorado and Salt Lake City.
“We still do traditional reprographics for the AEC industry,” Martin continues. “But we also offer wide-format color with the Océ Arizona GT 350 and the Océ 960. We saw the downturn in the AEC market a couple of years ago and felt it was necessary to venture into the signage business. We do a lot of work with home builders for billboard signage—those big 16-foot billboards advertising new developments being built.”
To support that move, the company bought an Océ ProCut flatbed cutter, which came to the fore at Christmas last year, when Martin was approached by a company that had an idea for an indoor seasonal display.
“They wanted their employees’ images put onto elf bodies,” Martin says. “They just gave us the concept and photos of all their employees. We downloaded different elf images from a royalty-free stock-image site and attached the photos to the bodies via Photoshop. Each employee was a separate elf.”
Martin and crew used Arizona GT 350 to output the images onto 3/16-inch white foamboard at various sizes from two- to five-feet high. They then cut out all of the elves, and these went into an indoor display at the company.
The ProCut made short work of the job, says Martin. “The foamboard cuts relatively easily, and you can get quite intricate on the detail when you’re using the different blades to cut. Sometimes when you’re using a more rigid substrate, you have to switch out to an actual router bit, and then it can get a bit tricky on the fine detail. But the elves were easy.”
For installation, some of the elves were mounted directly to the display wall using stand offs to give them a 3D look; others had large easels made from foamboard mounted to the back.