One of the reasons that the printing industry remains resilient is that it continues to adapt. Justin Leader, owner of JC Pro Design, of Murray, Utah (just South of Salt Lake City) is such an entrepreneur who saw a niche in the market and seized the opportunity.
“I wasn’t in the printing industry at all,” he explains. “I was running a nutritional supplement business and having trouble getting labels in very short runs. I started printing them myself in my living room and finished them using a Silhouette cutter.
“I was also printing heat transfers for sponsored T-shirts,” Leader continues. “I was doing more and more of this work and thought I could turn it into a business. I bought a 54-inch Mimaki printer cutter, climatized my garage and set up shop.”
That was in 2016. Today, JC Pro Design occupies a large industrial unit and now has a Mimaki CJV150/130 (54in.) printer, a Graphtec FC8600-160 (64in.) cutting plotter, an Epson SureColor F6200 (44in.) and has recently installed an Epson F2100 direct-to-garment printer.
“When our work was picking up, the time to prepare files was slowing us down,” Leader says. “The reseller we work with is Regional Supply and their rep suggested we look into SAi Flexi.
Production tripled, competitiveness increased
“For us, that was a game-changer. We found the software easy to learn and we were able to connect our different output devices to it – it didn’t matter that they were from different suppliers,” he says. “Using Flexi 19, we tripled our production through ease of setup and time-savings. This enabled us to lower our prices and become more competitive.”
JC Pro Design used SAi’s subscription program to access Flexi 19 and later, when FlexiDYESUB became available, selected the subscription service for that software too. The subscription model is ideal for companies – large and small – to enable them to use as many or as few of Flexi’s features via a monthly subscription that can be paid from revenue, rather than making a capital investment. The software is updated on a regular basis remotely and new options added on request.
“Apart from the time and material savings due to Flexi’s efficient nesting and True Shape nesting that makes the best use of substrates, the format sizes that can be handled by Flexi are greater. With our previous design program, we could only layout up to a 18-foot length,” Leader says. “With Flexi, we were able to handle a sign that was 40-feet easily.”
In the relatively short time that JC Pro Design has been in business, it has continued to add products.
“In my other job, trying to find someone to print this and someone else to print that was a hassle,” Leader explains. “I wanted to build a one-stop shop for our customers so we can meet all their requirements and build relationships.”
Application diversity extends customer offering
From labels and T-shirts, JC Pro Design has added products for commercial, retail and general consumer customers. Current offerings include indoor and outdoor banners and signage; trade show displays and graphics; stickers; cut decals; and vehicle wraps. The company also prints onto a variety of apparel, including T-shirts, hats, hoodies and beanies; as well as a wide range of promotional items such as bags and other products.
While other product areas are growing, signage remains an important component of JC Pro Design’s work.
“There is still a strong demand for cut vinyl signs and vehicle graphics,” Leader says. “For many companies, cut vinyl is a cost-effective solution where extensive graphics aren’t required, and it’s the sort of job that Flexi makes fast and easy.”
Part of JC Pro Design’s strategy is to stick with what it does best.
“While we are a one-stop shop, we do outsource a number of services,” he continues. “For example, signage and vehicle wrap installation is sub-contracted out, as are requests for embroidery. We also receive orders for a variety of products that might include screen printing. We’ll outsource the screen work, but then in turn we also receive outsourced signage and digital work from screen printers, so it works well.”
Dye-sublimation printing on the rise
One of the trends that Leader has seen is the rise of dye sublimation printing.“The demand for dye sublimation products is growing very quickly,” Leader explains. “The substrates are cheaper, and they are light and easy to transport and install. The launch of FlexiDYESUB meant that we could drive the Mimaki, Graphtec and Epson machines with a single workflow software.
“In addition to the cheaper substrates, the richness of the colors in dye sub printing adds to its attraction to customers,” he continues. “We’ve added a GeoKnight wide format heat press (32in. x 42in.) so we can cover garments all over and without the need to cut and sew.”
“The Salt Lake City area is booming with a rapidly growing population, a young workforce, good transportation links and new business openings,” Leader adds. “We’re benefitting from that and have been enjoying 200-300% growth year on year.”
Remarkably, all of this business has been by word-of-mouth referrals and without any expenditure on advertising. While most of JC Pro Design’s business comes from within Utah, it does have customers from outside the Southwest who request deliveries all over the country.
“The addition of SAi Flexi 19 and FlexiDYESUB has been a significant contributor to that growth, enabling increased production capacity and speed, lower material waste and greater flexibility in product design,” he continues. “The support we have received from Regional Supply has been excellent. I have only contacted the SAi support team once, and they sorted out my problem within five minutes.
“Using the subscription option has also made Flexi more easily affordable,” Leader concludes, “and the continuous updates have ensured that we are as well-equipped and competitive as any large printer in the country.”