Combining event and print production to create a niche market.
Launched in 2001, New Orleans’ own Pelican Graphics served as a typical print provider producing banners and signs, t-shirts and embroidery, and vehicle wraps and lettering. Meanwhile, owner Dolph Federico worked on the side organizing festivals, constantly struggling with how to better brand the events. After an “ah-ha” moment in 2006, Federico created sister company Pelican Events, a brand-management and outdoor event producer, which combined forces with the graphics shop to more effectively market its resources. Through the calibration, Pelican stumbled upon an extremely specialized niche – branded, graphic-adorned stages – and almost instantly saw its business grow.
By developing a strategic niche, Federico has been able to not only survive in his business during an economic storm, but thrive. His company has become a go-to source for outdoor stages that enable clients to silently carry a visual message while the show goes on.
“Since Katrina, the competition has been fierce. It seems like there are hundreds more mom-and-pop stores that operate out of their garages now,” says Federico. “Everybody wanted to be in business for themselves and the price of decent printers became very affordable.
“Now, we specialize in the branded stages. We own three Stageline units [mobile hydraulic stages] and have begun to develop a national client base. Our experience in graphics and stage construction has really merged into a deep pool of knowledge,” he says. Along with stages, Pelican also provides Ultra-Silent MQ Power diesel generators and a full inventory of cabling to power any size event.
Along with its impressive tool chest of event supplies, Pelican’s extensive client list acts as a testament to its ability to serve a diverse clientele and land high-profile jobs. The US Department of Homeland Security, Continental and Delta Airlines, UPS, Fed Ex, Hard Rock Café, NASCAR, Honda, and Toyota are just a few names to decorate Pelican’s portfolio.
One of Pelican’s latest undertakings: New Orleans on Tap, a beer festival at New Orlean’s City Park. “We have a great relationship with the New Orleans distributor for Abita Beer, Crescent Crown Distributing. We do a lot of work for them, including signs, banners, vehicle wraps, T-shirts, and posters – we print many products they need to market their brands,” says Fedrico. “Abita Beer had seen several of our other branded stages and reached out to us just days before the event. We worked quickly to get a design approved, then RIP’ed, printed, and finished the entire project in a single shift.”
To allow for uninterrupted sound, Pelican outputs onto Ultraflex Strip Mesh Plus using its two Mimaki JV3 printer with Mimaki SS2 inks. “On the mesh material we double print to increase opacity. It’s more costly, but the results are far better than most of what everyone else in New Orleans is producing.”
After the print completion, Pelican uses its Consew sewing machine to hem and double stitch the edges, and one-inch nylon webbing and brass grommets about every two inches to complete the finishing process. The shop also looks to its Banner Cyclone to hem its projects. Pelican’s installation crew installs about four to five stages a week, so this install was no challenge to the experienced team, which took only 20 minutes to get the job done. All of Pelican’s stage graphics feature a 4 x 40-foot main graphic along with two 6 x 16-foot side graphics.
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