Follow Us on the #RoadToPRINTINGUnited
In the weeks leading up to PRINTING United Expo, taking place in Las Vegas, Oct. 19-21, we will be sharing our #RoadToPRINTINGUnited! Follow along with us as we share our stops along the way — visiting with print shops across the country. We will share images and video content with you here and on social media, so keep an eye on our pages.
Updated Friday, October 14
On Friday, we were fortunate to visit Astek in its Van Nuys, California location. Aaron Kirsch, president and CEO, took us on a tour of his impressive facilities, where design is as big of a component to his success as the printing.
Astek still has a large sample library, with graphics in all shapes, sizes, and colors that designers, architects, and even Hollywood set designers can use to help them visualize the perfect printed elements for their projects. They even have access to a wide range of vintage patterns, since Kirsch himself collects them, and he and his team re-create those classic and striking designs for everything from corporate spaces to period television shows, and more.
It was exciting to see how print and design are blending seamlessly together, creating truly interesting pieces that scream high quality. This is a shop that rarely does the same job twice, and it's exciting to see how they are pushing wide-format to new heights.
October 13: Lithographix, Hawthorne, California
More than 40 years ago, Herb Zebrack bought what is now Lithographix. He grew the company into the massive printing company that it is today. It had sales of $95 million, according to the 2021 Printing Impressions 300 annual list of the largest printing companies in the U.S. and Canada, as ranked by annual sales.
Knowing this, we couldn't stop in Hawthorne, California, without visiting Lithographix's facility. VP of Sales Layne C. Morey gave us a tour of the company's 265,000-sq.-ft. facility, which houses eight-color Mitsubishi sheetfed offset technology; eight-color Mitsubishi web offset technology; digital technology, including an HP Indigo 7600 and HP Indigo 12000; large-format offset, including a Koenig & Bauer Rapida 205; EFI Vutek series devices; a full spectrum of traditional and digital binding and finishing equipment; a healthy line of Miller Weldmaster equipment; and more.
The facility is partially powered by a group of solar panels on the building's roof — contributing to 40% of the electricity used by the facility.
Olson Visual got its start in 1954, as a small studio specializing in black-and-white photo enlargements. Today, the sons of the original founders Bob and Jeannette Olson - Rick, Dan, and Tom - are the ones operating a business that has expanded far beyond those roots.
Today, Olson Visual is a wide-format and digital shop, producing graphics and displays for an impressive list of Hollywood clients, including creating custom pieces that allow studios to exhibit costumes and scenes safely in venues such as movie theaters and premiers. In fact, the shop has an unusual - and impressive - mannequin selection to facilitate these one-of-a-kind vignettes for any customer who needs them.
It was great to see how wide-format printing combines with all of the other expertise Olson Visual brings to the table to create truly impressive projects for their discerning customer base. Thank again for letting us tour your facility, and see first hand how you bring everything together into such striking and powerful communications.
October 13: D'Andrea Visual Communications, Cypress, CA
Our second stop for the day was the Cypress, California branch of D'Andrea Visual Communications (DVC), a minority-owned shop that first got it's start in 2005 as a lithographic printer. Since then, the shop has expanded, adding a wide range of wide-and grand-format printing to its mix, along with custom fabrication projects. Scott Powers, director of retail accounts, notes that they don't even think of themselves as printers these days - they are a communications company, helping customers and brands execute their vision.
Of particular note as we toured the facility was the wide range of dye-sub equipment that allows the shop to print on fabrics of almost any size, for projects that range from small retail banners up to massive projects that can dominate the front of a building. They also have an impressive fabrication section, where they can make frames for those fabric signs and banners in any shape or size. The shop also prides itself on its people - Powers noted more than once that without the dedication and hard work of the project managers who stay on top of the details, many, if not all, of their work would be "dead in the water."
DVC is truly a one-stop-shop offering so many different services and applications to their customers from #design and build to #wideformatprinting, #fabricprinting, #litho, and cold foil #printing to custom #packaging and #installation.
It's certainly something we are seeing more and more as PSPs don't want to say "no" to their customers. They might start outsourcing a new service or application, but soon enough they end up bringing it in house as another revenue stream.
It was an impressive operation, and we had a great time touring the facility. We can't wait to tour the DVC Las Vegas facility with David Schiller next week once we hit Vegas!
October 13: Primary Color, Cypress, CA
Today, we started off our day on the #RoadToPRINTINGUnited with a visit to Primary Color. The Cypress, California-based company started in 1984. Our hosts for this stop were Dan Hirt and Mark Marth — and they were fantastic!
It was great to have the opportunity to talk to them and see how they are innovating — especially in color, which is really no surprise due to their background in color. Dan also highlighted a new color process with expanded gamut inks (eight colors) which provides them with nearly 170% more colors than GRACol. So impressive!
It's also interesting to see how #convergence and #diversification are integrated in many of the companies we're visiting. Commercial printers adding wide-format technology. Sign and graphics printers with litho presses who are also moving into packaging. Some are adding logistics and fulfillment and kitting.
There's so much opportunity out there and these companies are proving it day in and day out.
October 12: Direct Edge, Anaheim, CA
Direct Edge Media was founded in 2001 by Ryan Brueckner and Ryan Clark with the goal to print large format photo enlargements at an affordable price. With their drive to say “yes” and their commitment to building long-lasting customer partnerships, Direct Edge quickly evolved into a comprehensive print communications company.
Today, Direct Edge invests in the latest technological advances and a diverse team of talented professionals, to offers our clients an extensive range of business enhancing capabilities, while staying true to quality, affordability and exceptional client care.
It was great to see the Onset in action while we were there, along with its automation in full swing (robot arm). The Ryans — as well as many others — are certainly interested to see how the new Agfa inks will interface with the Inca Digital Printers platform, but we'll have to wait until PRINTING United Expo to find out more.
In addition to touring the wide-format plant, we had the opportunity to see their second location housing all of the litho equipment and bindery. It was so great to see how this company is growing and expanding — and embracing — all the various aspects of the graphic arts and visual communications industries. Truly convergence in action.
Brian Hite with Image Options was the consummate host for us at his 103k sqft facility in Lake Forest, California. Founded in 1999, Image Options is a leading company in the display and visual communication industry.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to become "part of the IO family" as we were treated to lunch during the quarterly Employee Communication Meeting. It was amazing to see (most of the) staff and meet so many! And it was also so nice to be a part of welcoming so many to the company and sharing in the recognition awards for some of the staff.
It was great to see Barry Polan Tim Bennett and David Brewer and meet up with two new interns just out of college — Kiki Hosaka and Madison Kast. The program Image Options has set up to cross train and introduce new employees to all aspects of the business is fantastic. As they rotate through each and every department, they truly get the feel for the entire business — from back off work to production on the shop floor.
October 11: Dimensional Sign and Graphics, San Diego, CA
Mike Tardy with Dimensional Signs and Graphics hosted us just after we touched down in San Diego, California. Dimensional has been a mainstay of the sign and graphics industry in the San Diego areas for decades, starting first with silk screening and evolving to include wide-format signs and graphics.
It was exciting to see — and hear — how much Dimensional has grown just in the last year — nearly 40% — thanks to the growth from clients in hospitality and military. It was also great to see all the varied work the company is able to produce and accomplish in such a compact space! The company's latest expansion has been into vehicle wraps and graphics.
In addition to the standard equipment, it was great to see an old — and fully operational — guillotine cutter from the 1970s.It certainly was impressive! It still has many more years of service, too. They certainly built them differently back then.
October 6: Landmark Graphix, San Leandro, CA
John Sharp of Landmark Graphix hosted us for a tour of his shop in San Leandro, California, last week. The full-service printing company offers a variety of services, including design, custom work, and installation.
The company was formed in 1993 as a provider of graphics for race cars and teams, but has since expanded to serve large-format printing needs of retail, corporate, and commercial clients, with its fleet of fleet of flatbed and roll-to-roll latex HP equipment, including an HP Latex R1000.
Sharp explained to us that green initiatives are a important focus for Landmark, as the company strives to find partners to work with on sourcing more sustainable options.
October 6: Infinity Images, Portland, OR
We had the pleasure of visiting Infinity Images, based in Portland, Oregon, last week, with CEO George Gross and his team giving us a tour of their impressive facilities.
Infinity Images is just over 20 years old, and has evolved from a small large-format shop into a powerhouse of graphics, fabricating wide-format signs and displays for an impressive range of national customers. The shop also has a heavy emphasis on sustainability, taking it as seriously as it does the high quality of the work it produces.
Infinity Images has a strong drive to help customers bring their creative ideas to life, a message that is felt as you walk through their shop floor and see the innovation at work, as well as through the people, who genuinely love what they do - and it shows.
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.