Installation: An Essential Value-Add
With so much focus in the wide-format space on printing, and devices that print, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that wide-format production is a broader process, not just a machine. While it is safe to say that all steps within that process add value, not all producers take the steps needed to extract full value from the services they provide.
Rich Dobda is manager of Atchley Graphics, a wide-format producer located in Columbus, OH. The company’s primary focus is on window, wall, and floor graphics. “We specialize in interior branding and event graphics,” he says. The company also produces dimensional signage, but “draws the line” at projects with electrical components. Dobda says between 60% and 70% of the jobs produced by the company include installation.
Atchley Graphics currently employs six graphic installers who install on a daily basis — work that is generally done within a 200-mile radius. For work outside that range, the company relies on a network of trusted, independent installers.
While the company does not generally highlight installation as a stand-alone service, it does present it as an integral part of the company’s service structure. Project photos shown online and on social media feature jobs where installation has been completed — thus selling the whole service. “It’s a big value-add for our clients to know they’re going to one place for the whole package,” Dobda says, “which includes design, printing, finishing, and installation all under one roof.”
As a graphics professional working daily in an applied graphics space, Dobda can provide insight into trends he’s seeing in the marketplace: “I’m seeing a big shift away from pressure-sensitive wall films, and toward paste-up wall coverings,” also known as wallpaper. He believes this shift could be driven by the durability of the end product, or with the overall look of the installed piece. “The finish looks high-end with paste-up wall covering materials.” What this development means for installation is that installation teams must have the skills — proven skills — in place to meet that customer need.
Dobda also says the company has produced and installed a significant amount of window privacy films. He says he finds it ironic that while much new construction utilizes a lot of glass, those occupying those spaces — office workers, for instance — feel they are existing in a fishbowl. Thoughtfully designed and produced, Dobda says window films provide privacy, but also present “a great opportunity for branding and decoration.”
Finally, while Atchley Graphics does not produce silicone edge graphics (SEG), Dobda says, “we install a lot of it.” In this way, the company provides an essential, project-completing service, even when the printing was done elsewhere.
Asked why installation services are important to the broader offerings of Atchley Graphics, Dobda says, “I think the value of installation is huge.” Further, he adds, “I’m always amazed how many PSPs don’t offer installation services. I see companies five times our size that have one installer.” As a producer, Dobda says, “I don’t want to outsource printing, and I don’t want to outsource installation, so it is huge for us.”