By Mara Whitten
For any business, name recognition is a key to success. Every detail goes toward establishing an identity, and that includes graphics.
“Customers use branding to gain recognition,” says Pam Butcher, president of Rose City Awning & Flag Co., Portland, Ore. “They want logos and catch phrases on awnings, industrial curtains and tarps.”
To meet a demand for graphics projects in the Portland area, Rose City expanded its capabilities, thanks in part to the Sunbrella Graphics System (SGS). Purchased in 2008, the SGS allows the company to quickly and easily turn out graphics projects for individual clients and competitors.
Rose City Awning had been outsourcing its graphics work, which often led to hassles, slow turn-around times and a lack of quality control. And according to Mike Pedersen, an outside sales representative, a main disadvantage was cost. Now, with the ability to apply graphics in-house, the shop can turn around projects approximately 75 percent faster with more attention to detail and at more competitive prices.
The company uses local vendors for cutting and digitally printing vinyl when needed, but it has more control over the end product. “We examine everything when it arrives before applying it ourselves,” says Butcher. “This has helped us in our ability to lower costs to our customers in addition to offering graphics applied more quickly than was previously possible with out-of-town vendors.”
As an added advantage, Rose City Awning is the only business in the area that houses the SGS, allowing the ability to offer outsourcing services and gaining a steady stream of work. While the majority of projects come from individual clients, about 20 percent of Rose City’s total graphics work comes from competitors.
The SGS, developed by and for awning and sign professionals, allows the company to create custom designs to client specifications. The machine consists of two primary components: a vacuum system and heat source that creates a secure bond between the Sunbrella fabric and the 3M Scotchcal ElectroCut Graphic film. The fabrics are placed inside the unit on a flat surface. The film is positioned on top of the fabric. The vacuum system pulls the fabric and film together, and heat lamps form a bond.
For now, Rose City Awning is focusing its efforts on simple graphics projects for local businesses, mainly lettering and logos on awnings and indoor banners, but points out that there is beauty in simplicity.
“Our staff takes the extra time to make sure the graphics projects are done with the highest degree of care and professionalism,” says Butcher. ”We say that every job is a custom job around here.”