“In wide-format, the technology moves incredibly fast, so we’ve got to make pretty good bets, because a good decision 36 months ago is obsolete now.”
Around that time, one of Classic Graphics’ retail customers began asking the company for large- and grand-format work. At first, Pitts and crew outsourced the work – anything bigger than 28 x 40 inches, “a lot of it screen print” – to suppliers.
“But, we love to control our own destiny. So we decided that we wanted to have that capability in house, and we knew that we wanted to be digital instead of screen,” he says.
Diving into wide-format
In 2007, Classic Graphics bought its first wide-format digital machine – a two-meter DuPont flatbed hybrid – and spent that first year in what he describes as “printing kindergarten,” learning about the substrates and inks and how the wide-format business works.
“In 2008, when we sort of got our legs under us, we went from kindergarten to graduate school, because we added an HP TurboJet, which we have been running with ever since,” Pitts explains. “Then, in February of this year, we replaced that first little DuPont machine with a Durst Rho 900, a very robust hybrid platform. Before the end of 2011, we will also have up and running a Durst 500R 5-meter machine, in addition to the 900.”
The move to wide format digital was something of a no-brainer for Pitts and Gardner, who pride themselves on having the foresight to go digital early in the process.
“We knew our existing customer base was buying wide-format products already, they were just buying them from different suppliers,” explains Pitts. “In order for us to be able to handle larger, national accounts and even large regional accounts, we found these guys want to deal with a single source when they’re running a campaign. If you’re doing an in-store retail campaign for a customer, for example, they don’t want to buy print over here, banners over here, and end-cap displays over here. They need somebody to manage that entire campaign for them.”
Classic Graphics now has the capacity to serve that entire spectrum of needs. It’s their diverse portfolio of services that has helped the company hold onto larger retail and financial clients even as marketing campaigns, and their requisite printing demands, have grown increasingly complex.