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Custom fabric crafter provides graphics for various applications

Graphics | May 1, 2009 | By:

Baraboo Tent & Awning is a custom fabric crafter with a number of businesses under one “tent,” so to speak. So what ties several of those fabric applications together? The answer is graphics.

The Baraboo, Wis.-based company provides customized graphics on awnings and canopies, umbrella shelters, instant shelters, cabanas, POP displays, banners and trade show displays.

CEO Andy Moon says it was natural for the company, in 2006, to add large format fabric printing to its wide array of capabilities.

“We’ve always manufactured banners and have done graphics on awnings,” Moon says. “We had customers asking if we do large banners, curtains and displays. It just fit with our expertise.”

Baraboo offers 62-inch wide solvent printing on fabric and vinyl, as well as vinyl-cut graphics, and employs two full-time graphics production staffers and one part-time designer. The company previously outsourced large-format printing but found the process frustrating.

“It was very hard to control the color matching and the quality of the prints we were having made,” Moon says. “It just made sense to acquire the equipment.”

Moon says there were high learning curves for both the graphics and the production software, as well as profiling for various substrates. But in the end, bringing the graphics in-house has helped Baraboo to create quality products that it can stand by and provide clients with one more service.

Baraboo’s history is as colorful as its graphics. In its 80-plus years in business, the company focus has reflected the fabrication needs of the day, including repairing torn pads from between railroad passenger cars in the 1920s, repairing circus tents for the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 1930s and manufacturing camper tops for Montgomery Ward in the 1950s.

When the family of Stacy and Agnes Anchor purchased Baraboo in 1976, they revised the company’s emphasis from mass production to custom work. Anchor daughter Carolyn and son-in-law Clyde Moon eventually become sole owners, with their son Andy later joining them.

Given all of the other fabrication that goes on under the Baraboo tent—from custom boat covers to industrial sewing to tent rentals—graphics is a small part of the company’s overall business. Andy Moon says he still sees opportunities for growth, despite the down economy and an increase in competition, as more shops jump onto the large-format digital fabric printing bandwagon.

“We’ve got good clients,” he says. “We’re sticking with what we’re good at. We’re sticking with quality and value. Giving people the best product for the money.”

Jill C. Lafferty is a freelance writer based in Minnesota and associate editor for InTents, a publication of the Industrial Fabrics Association International.

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