By Mara Whitten
Don’t be so quick to eliminate the middleman. For Large Format Graphics Inc., Andover, Minn., taking on and offering solutions for the hassle of logistics and planning has proven to be a successful niche.
Owner Mike Cofrin entered the graphics industry in 1998, as a customer. He began working with Visual Impact Signs, Blaine, Minn., and eventually was hired as director of sales and marketing. For four years he learned the business, then had the idea for a new business model. While Visual Impact was able to meet many client needs, the company couldn’t handle everything. Cofrin saw the opportunity to work out the logistics and bring a large base of suppliers and clients together. “I saw a marketplace for a one-stop shop,” he says.
Founded in February of 2010, Large Format Graphics is able to meet a large variety of digital printing demands, including printed fabrics and vinyl, building wraps, retail decor, murals, banners and vehicle graphics.
Cofrin specializes in finding corporations with large-format printing needs, pointing them towards appropriate suppliers and making sure things happen. Cofrin says he can offer clients improved solutions, timing and prices. “It’s about finding the right candidate,” he says. “It is determined job by job, but I cover the files, check dimensions, work with press proofs and finally make sure that everything ships as planned. It’s all about managing the little details.”
One project that showcased Cofrin’s project management skills was his work with the Kelly Benefits’ OptumHealth Pro Cycling Team, which needed wrapping for its vehicles, including four cars, two vans and a trailer.Â The vehicles were scattered in California and Minnesota. Cofrin turned to Visual Impact to do the printing, but set out to find separate installers that could produce identical results, coordinate the printing and final installation. In the end, all vehicles were wrapped identically and on time.
With the graphics market evolving towards buyers looking for quality in lower quantities and faster turn times, Cofrin is adapting and accommodating to the changing needs on both sides. “We are a strong solution provider,” he says. “Things need to happen, on time, at the best price with minimal hassle. At the end of the day, this is the measure for my performance. If the customer is satisfied, then I have done my job and the next project becomes that much easier to secure.”