Top Honors

Each and every year I have the privilege of working with and meeting some amazingly creative and vibrant people within the wide-format industry. Even after twelve years in the industry, the graphics that come off of what is in essence an industrial-strength inkjet printer continues to astound and dazzle me. The enthusiasm in the industry—from both print service providers and manufacturers—can be downright contagious. And trust me, that’s a good thing.

And so each year in April I am incredibly honored to be able to present our Annual Top Wide-Format Print Providers list to the industry. In the past, we’ve only been able to feature the top 25 in North America, but this year—due to an overwhelming number of submissions—we were able to expand the list to include 40 shops in North America.

There are a number of familiar faces and names in this year’s list, but we also saw the entrance of a number of new companies and shops—including one which is celebrating its centennial year in 2010—Filmet, based in Cheswick, PA. Even though the vast majority of shops that reported in during both 2008 and 2009 saw a decline in revenue, there were a few companies that saw growth—even in these tough times.

“Changing the way we sell print is our biggest challenge,” said Zach Sharpe, vice president of sales and marketing, Sharpe Images, Winston-Salem, NC. “Printing is such a commodity and there is so much competition out there that we have to start identifying the customers that can really make a difference to our bottom line. Once we research and identify those clients then we try and approach them with ideas or solutions that are measurable, produce a ROI, and just happen to include printing. A packaged solution yields much higher margins than printing alone.”

For more information about Wide-Format Imaging’s Top 40 Wide-Format Print Providers and to see the complete list, please turn over to page 10.

April also marks the month where we honor the top products in the wide-format industry—according to our readers. This year in 27 categories, we had 32 winning entries (there were a few ties) and HP was the runaway winner, taking top honors in six categories. Caldera Graphics, however, took the most coveted award: Top Overall Product with its Visual Rip+ products. Many of these products will be on the show floor at ISA, so make sure to stop at the various booths to check them out for yourself.

Safe travels to everyone heading down to Orlando. I’m sure I’ll see you there!