For printed output, many shops opt for 60-inch-wide printers, laminators, and plotter/cutters that accept the widest wrap vinyls currently manufactured. The ability to print on wider vinyl helps to limit and even prevent seams, Fellers pointed out, and many vehicle hoods can only be seamlessly wrapped on one piece with five-foot-wide material. Purchasing a separate cutter/plotter is highly recommended. There are cheaper combo printer/cutter units available, but professional wrap shops cannot afford the time needed for these slower, lower quality machines. Combo printer/cutters also cannot print and cut at the same time, which impacts production times.
While a wrap business can start with one person, the ideal shop employs two or more people, notes Fellers. In addition to having employees on staff with the technical ability to operate wrap equipment, such as computers, printers and laminators, wrap shop personnel also should include people with experience in:
Art, design and/or sign makingOutside salesMechanical and carpentry skills for removal of automotive parts and removal of wall trim.Physical abilities needed to wrap, as wrapping can be physically demanding.Attention to detail for prepping and trimming.
Training and certification
Getting into the wrap business without knowledge of how to estimate and bid jobs, prep a vehicle, print and laminate, and properly install a vinyl wrap is a dangerous proposition that likely will cost your firm time and money. Training with a certified wrap provider is a great way to get started and is also an excellent forum for learning industry best practices. This is an opportunity to learn from folks who are working “in the trenches” every day.
Wide-format printer manufacturer Roland DGA Corp. hosts such courses. Led by some of the industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced professional vehicle wrappers, its “Born to Wrap” workshops go beyond classroom instruction. These comprehensive two-day events, held periodically at Roland DGA’s Irvine, CA headquarters, the Digital EFX facility in Louisville, KY, and the Richard Childress Racing Center in Welcome, NC., provide attendees with extensive hands-on training and real-world pointers for starting and running a successful wrap business. Cost is $549.
According to Matt Richart, “Born to Wrap” workshop instructor and owner of Digital EFX Wraps, Roland’s workshops prepare program participants to handle realistic vehicle wrap applications and situations. “Along with teaching them professional wrapping skills, we provide practical business tips – information they need to know to operate a successful shop, said Richart. “We’re talking everything from pricing jobs and handling finances to dealing with existing clients and attracting new customers. It took us many years to discover these things, mostly through the school of hard knocks, but through these workshops, attendees can benefit from our experience and learn the essentials in a couple of days.”
At a September “Born to Wrap” event, Richart shared his expertise and industry know-how with attendees from across the country, putting them on the road to vehicle-wrapping success. This latest event, like all “Born to Wrap” workshops, combined classroom instruction with practical, hands-on application. “After going over various wrap techniques and the use of Roland’s advanced printer/cutters, we like to head outside and let the students put what they’ve learned into practice, Richart explained. “We walk them through the entire process, and we go to great lengths to ensure that the simulated work environment and jobs mirror those of an actual shop.”
“Born to Wrap” attendees range from individuals that have never performed a vehicle wrap, to wrappers with a few years of experience under their belts. Blake Davignon, owner of Denver-based Dirt Candy and a late summer workshop participant, has been doing action sports wraps for a few years, but attends at least one course annually to learn more and hone his skills. “I’ve attended several courses offered by other printer and media manufacturers, but none included the kind of practical information, hands-on training and realistic applications that Roland’s ‘Born to Wrap’ workshop features,” said Davignon. “The other courses seemed self-promotional, and in each case, one of the manufacturer’s in-house staffers led the class. Roland’s workshop is dramatically different. The focus is on teaching real-world skills, and the instructor is an experienced and respected wrap business owner that has achieved significant success. Information and advice like that is priceless.”