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Finding a qualified printer

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James Garbarsky was on the lookout for a new print provider. The owner of Azure Awnings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had used several print shops for his products, but he was not happy with their knowledge of printing on fabric. He did his own research along the way, learning which graphics worked for canvas and umbrella materials.

About four years ago, he found AdGraphics. The choice to use them was easy. “They do graphics all day long on different substrates,” Garbarsky says. “They know awnings and have done their market research. We get peace of mind knowing that we don’t have to bring products back to them.”

As Garbarsky’s story demonstrates, the same care that fabricators give to their awnings, tents and boat covers should also be given to selecting a printer. After all, choosing the best print shop for the job allows fabricators to expand their offerings to their customers.

Jan Schieffer, managing director of the Fabric Graphics Association, suggests that fabricators follow these steps in finding and hiring a print shop:

  • Call an association (like FGA) that can give you a list of reputable companies.
  • List your needs and evaluate whether the print company can meet those needs.
  • Ask the printers how much experience they have working with the type of materials you require.
  • Find out if the company offers options or solutions for your requested project?
  • Inquire if their time frame will match yours.
  • Ask if the company is accommodating in sending graphics files? If you don’t have graphics files, ask the printer if they have the capabilities or if you should contract with a graphic artist to produce them.
  • Determine if the company is a potential business partner for future jobs?

Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer in Pine City, Minn., who specializes in interior design, residential construction and architecture.

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