Michael and Tami Napolitano had no formal training as signmakers, but had always been interested in technology. In 1994, they attended MacWorld and saw some of the first wide-format printers in action. Once home, they surveyed local business owners. “A lot of people told us they would buy color-printed products if we could make them,” says Tami. “Based on that feedback, we bought a printer and started our business.”
Tami is the owner and Michael the co-owner of Awesome Graphics in Rutland, Vt. The couple produced interior-only graphics for the first few years, until they learned about Roland’s print/cut technology. Tami recalls being impressed with the VersaCAMM’s indoor/outdoor graphics printing capability and its overall versatility. “Our whole business model was built around that first VersaCAMM. We’ve grown rapidly ever since,” she said.
Quality Production + Versatility = Growth
Today Awesome Graphics’ 3,500-sq.-ft. shop along busy Route 4 is humming. Its staff of eight includes designers, installers, and production experts, who now rely on a 64” Roland SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 printer/cutter to churn out vehicle graphics, window graphics, wall murals, interior and exterior signage, decals, banners, and trade show graphics — lots of trade show graphics.
“We bill ourselves as Vermont’s trade show exhibit headquarters,” says Tami. They produce branded tents, table covers, backlit signs, and exhibit graphics, plus they sell the hardware needed for floor model booths.
Located just 10 minutes from Killington Ski Area, Awesome Graphics is the “go-to” shop for ski valley retail shops, hotels, entertainment venues, and restaurants. They also provide graphics for the organizers and sponsors of the prestigious World Cup of Skiing and other area events, including branded tents, sandwich boards, wayfinding and directional signs, stage backdrops, posters, and banners.
Awesome Graphics also produces signage, graphics, product labels, box truck wraps, and even tap handles for local manufacturers including Woodchuck Cider, Long Trail Brewing, and Otter Creek Brewing. In addition, they generate wraps and graphics for the city’s police, fire, and other municipal vehicles.
Print + Cut = Personalized Production
Awesome Graphics has developed its own wall graphics product called “Wall Me.” They use their Roland Pro 4 XR-640 to print and cut these removable graphics for temporary installations such as special events or promotions. Recently, the local branch of Ernst & Young requested life-sized images of employees it was honoring. “The colors on the Roland are great for reproducing photographs accurately, and our production workflow couldn’t be simpler with print/cut in one machine,” says Tami.
Awesome Graphics also uses its Roland to print and cut window and wall graphics along with signage to create whole-room branding for interior environments. One recent example is a project for the Silver Bay YMCA. “After scanning all their old art and postcards, we created massive wall graphics that depict a timeline of their history,” notes Tami.
Both Tami and Michael were born and raised in Rutland, and supporting their hometown is part of Awesome Graphics’ DNA. They recently helped add some flair to Rutland and Mill River High Schools with graphics for the gym, scoreboards, and interior hallways, along with life-sized wall decals of the schools’ mascots. In addition, they offer a discount to local nonprofits on graphics and signage products.
Awesome Graphics recently celebrated winning its third “Best Sign Shop in Vermont” award. They’ve also won the “Best of the Best” award for Rutland 10 years running. “It’s been a really fun journey,” says Tami. “Having a Roland has been a big part of our success — it really helped us realize that the possibilities are endless.”