Larger than Life
Inspiration is often found in the most random places: among the flowers, at the beach or through our loved ones, to name a few. But Mick Alles, president of Falls Cities Printing, New Albany, Ind., found his in internal bank documents.
Traditionally a forms printer, specializing in internal bank documents, Alles wondered what might make a good vertical sell for his distributors selling to small community banks. That's when he decided to branch out into wide-format printing. After all, indoor and outdoor signage could give lesser known banks a polished look and a solid marketing plan.
Today, wide-format printing comprises between five percent to 10 percent of his business. And, though, Alles anticipates that number to climb in a couple of years, some of his smaller-sized distributors remain reluctant to take advantage of the opportunities this sector has to offer.
"I don't know if it's a case where it's not something they have to do yet. Or maybe they're comparing it to their traditional channels. ... That stuff will need to be overcome because there's a large market for this out there," he insisted. "I think seeing how the economy is getting worse that mostly the small- and medium-size distributors are [eventually] going to become more open to try and sell this stuff. ... You're not really having to diversify, you're just trying to become more of a full-service [provider] for your end-user. And all I'm trying to do is give you another vehicle to do that."
Ralph E. Wilbur, president of Graphic Litho, Lawrence, Mass., agreed, arguing in times of sluggish sales, visibility and promotion can make things happen. "The bigger, the more eye-catching," he commented.
But remember to research, research, research, stressed Brent McKinnon, vice president of Muskegon, Michigan-based Graphics House Imaging. "Over the last few years, the industry has flooded the market with low-cost, inexpensive printers. But today's current economic condition has caused prices to crash. Many companies are fighting for survival so they're willing to print for nothing," he said. "Wide format as a market will grow, but there are more print providers than ever. Those companies that bought equipment based on want versus need are struggling and, in the process, driving output costs down."