Avery Dennison® Fleet Graphics Materials for Branding and Performance Provides Cohesive Message and Much-Needed Durability
Soper Companies, headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisc., is centered around things that move. As a diversified, multi-faceted company that provides various forms of trucking, grading and excavation; snow-plowing, sewer and water services; the company maintains a fleet of nearly 600 vehicles that include tractor-trailers, dump trucks, bulldozers, and plows. With such a wide variety of vehicles (and trailers) within its fleet and a broad range of services, it is paramount that the company present an easily-identifiable, cohesive brand both on the road and on the job site. For Soper Companies, the unique branding opportunities of vehicle graphics, utilizing both the pressure-sensitive adhesive products of Avery Dennison and the printing and installation prowess of Art City Wraps (also of Oshkosh, Wisc.), have worked to elevate the brand and build the business.
According to Joshua Marquardt, owner of Art City Wraps, the company’s partnership with Soper Companies started out small, using cut vinyl letters to produce basic company branding and required DOT markings. From that starting point, the drive toward larger, more visually-engaging graphics was incremental: “We were there when the company was working to develop its brand,” says Marquardt. As Soper Companies owner Scott Soper started seeing the possibilities of what printed graphics can do, Marquardt says, the company began moving toward a more elevated graphic presentation for its diverse fleet. Graphics are changed out roughly every three years. “Art City Wraps,” offers Scott Soper, “has been an essential partner in the process as we’ve grown,” he says. “It’s been the art and the design that have really focused our branding approach. That, and, of course, the printing and application of big, colorful graphics.”
Addressing the value of fleet graphics, Scott Soper adds, “They are important to getting the Soper name out there. Having a visual, memorable way to do that is really essential. Most of our business is literally done ‘on the road,’ and that’s exactly where our customers—and our future customers—will see our branding message.”
To produce its graphics, Art City Wraps prints in-house, using both roll-to-roll UV and eco-solvent printers from Mimaki, as well as a Roland printer. For these and similar types of projects, Marquardt prefers Avery Dennison’s MPI 1105 digital cast pressure-sensitive media, as well as its DOL 1060 overlaminate. “MPI 1105 prints well, and it’s malleable,” he says, “which makes it easy to work with. It really makes the difference in getting a great finished surface and it locks down tight around rivets. It’s a game-changer.” Dane Carignan, Regional Sales Manager with Avery Dennison Graphic Solutions, added that the addition of the DOL 1060 overlaminate also served to protect the Soper fleet graphics amid the grime and abrasion of heavy, industrial use and the challenges of Wisconsin’s notoriously frigid winters. He also adds that the overlaminate provides the print stability needed for one-person installation, particularly to the broad sides of semi-trailers.
For DOT markings and door logos, Art City Wraps uses Avery Dennison’s digital calendered vinyl, MPI 2105. Marquardt reports that the product couples strong durability and favorable removability.
Marquardt speaks very favorably of his company’s Mimaki roll-to-roll UV system, which allows the company to speed its production process. Particularly, given the instantaneous cure of UV printing, the print can be moved directly from the printer to lamination. This saves the drying and off-gassing time that is required when solvent-based systems are utilized. He added that the UV ink holds up well: “Even when we’re installing to complex curves,” Marquardt offers, “we’ve had no issues with ink fracturing.” This reality goes against general industry assumptions about the conformability of UV. Further, he adds the conformability of the DOL 1060 overlaminate eliminates concern for “silvering” that can occur when UV printing is laminated using a non-compatible product.
One key element of the success of Art City Wraps, and its ongoing work for Soper Companies, has been the thoughtful guidance of Avery Dennison’s technical team. Dane Carignan says: “We’ve been able to help them achieve success by listening to the challenges they faced for specific applications. As a manufacturer, we’re able to advise on the right adhesive for the job.” Marquardt bookends this experience: “I have a nice relationship with the Avery Dennison team and I’ve had multiple folks stop by my shop. My rep stops in bi-monthly and I can always reach them by phone.”
For Marquardt’s company, technical knowledge of the materials used extends beyond print production: Art City Wraps is also an Avery Dennison Certified Wrap Installer, having demonstrated a high degree of proficiency in the installation of pressure-sensitive films. For any company seeking success in applied graphics, graphics installation is the final, essential step needed to finish many jobs. Whether these services are performed in-house—as in the case of Art City Wraps—or contracted out to an independent installer, this step should not be taken lightly. Project failure at any project’s final step can be a very costly mistake.
In many cases, the true value of a team comes from a shared vision—a desire to produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. “As Soper Companies has grown,” says Scott Soper, “the work we’ve done with Art City Wraps has too. Josh has a passion for his work and an eye for good design. One big benefit of the work we’ve done with them is to create a visual, consistent image for our brand.” Joshua Marquardt describes Scott Soper as “an involved customer” who wants to elevate his brand and who is open to the methods, techniques and opportunities that will help him do so. Asked how the relationship between materials manufacturer, graphics producer and customer can provide a benefit, Dane Carignan offers: “Joint collaboration allows for transparency. At Avery Dennison, we strive to make sure graphics producers use the right material for the job at hand. In doing so, we save them time, reduce business risk and eliminate unforeseen problems.”