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Success in Printing P-O-P

(September 2016) posted on Fri Oct 21, 2016

California-based PSP is unfazed as shopping norms shift.

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By Kiersten Feuchter

Historians have a knack for coining phrases that neatly define significant periods of time: the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age. It’s amazing how one rather singular descriptor can tie together decades, or even centuries. Perhaps, in a hundred years, they’ll call the 2000s the Age of the Smartphone; it seems accurate. One handheld device infiltrates most of our daily existence; we work, play, pay bills, and store memories. Many 2-year-olds are adept enough with a smartphone to play games and call Grandma. It’s changed the way we interact with friends, with content, and with advertising. It’s certainly changed the way we shop.

It’s no secret that retailers are facing an uphill battle in an age where 87 percent of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices for online shopping, according to The Nielsen Company. What’s more, analysts at Cowen and Company say Amazon is poised to overtake Macy’s as the largest seller of clothing in the US. But what does that mean for print service providers? Is it doom and gloom, for you, too?

At Direct Edge Media, President Ryan Clark and CEO Ryan Brueckner are the first to acknowledge that retail has seen better days. But they don’t seem bothered by it. With 80,000 square feet of production space across three locations, two in Orange, California, and one in Denver, their business is anything but shrinking.

They started out as just “two kids,” says Brueckner; they met working at a one-hour photo lab right out of college and decided “if they could do it, we could do it,” says Clark. They began printing photo enlargements in 2001 in a 400-square-foot shop; today, their 100-person company is ready for an upgrade to an umpteenth new facility. Their secret? A fair amount of risk-taking and the drive to always say “yes.”

It Starts with Software

So, how did two kids making photo enlargements build a P-O-P empire?

“It was our few customers at the time who kept driving us into different industries and verticals,” says Clark. The duo would research a new vertical, buy the equipment, and end up with happy clients, who in turn referred more clients. “That’s pretty much the methodology we have in place today. We don’t market; I don’t even know if we have a fully functioning website.”