While the athletes, their coaches and support staff, the media, sponsors and spectators amassed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the XXI Olympic Winter Games Feb. 12-28, the graphic arts industry had been preparing for the past four years. Print is an essential ingredient to promoting, guiding and recording the Games for posterity. And many printers produced souvenir books, maps, tourism pamphlets, commemorative stamps, posters, tickets, signage, car and bus wraps and sponsor-related packaging.
Three years ago, the 2010 Commerce Centre opened its offices in Vancouver’s central business district to inform, educate and connect businesses and communities to economic opportunities created by the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. A number of printers were awarded contracts to supply graphics and printing; these include Ampco Graphix, which wrapped the city’s ferries in giant-sized decals to promote the 2010 Olympic Games; Banner Images, which produced the event banners; PacBlue Digital Imaging, which was selected to produce printed materials, including banners, posters and booklets; and SuperGraphics USA, which was selected for banners and bus wraps.
Realizing the benefit the Games could bring to the graphic arts industry, especially as it reeled through an economic slow-down, the British Columbia Printing & Imaging Association organized a number of print specific seminars to help printers win contracts for the Games. In January 2009, the association held a seminar in conjunction with the Royal Bank of Canada. “We got a very good turnout and participation,” said Marilynn Knoch, executive director of BCPIA. “We provided pointers on how to bid for jobs and how to fill out request-for-proposal forms. We filled the room each time we gave a seminar.”
Among the printers seeking work from VANOC, the official Olympic organization responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, was PacBlue Printing in Vancouver. To prepare for the bidding process, Greg Downes, account manager for the 60-year-old printing company, attended a number of the 2010 Commerce Centre’s Business Opportunities workshops. He also registered the company with the Commerce Centre’s Business Network to learn about upcoming contracts.
“PacBlue was selected among nine printers to supply small-format printing to VANOC. We did receive a number of jobs leading up to the Games and became known for our quick turn-around times.” said Downes. “As the Games got closer we received a lot of indirect print work related to the Games, from customers wanting large-format banners or signage to attract attention to their products.” Downes also said that PacBlue’s reprographic division benefited from the construction industry’s requirement for blueprints. Multiple sets of drawings were required to construct the various Olympic venue sites.
Another printer that started early was Metropolitan Fine Printers, a Vancouver-based print specialist in high-end commercial work. Eleven years ago the company was approached by Tourism Vancouver to print business cards and brochures for the agency to use in its bid to win the Olympics for Vancouver. “They wanted us to print these items for free,” said Bob Faulkner, Metropolitan’s vice president of sales and marketing. “In the end, we did all the work they needed on the bids and it’s become very good for us. We’re able to produce the beauty of Vancouver, and that helps to showcase our high-quality printing.”
While Metropolitan was in the door very early, the print work came much later than predicted. “By last August, we were getting only a fraction of what we thought we would be producing,” said Faulkner. “September came and there still wasn’t much volume. By October, the floodgates had opened. Everyone left it till the end but that’s the nature of the printing business today.”