Art director Brandon Harrop examines a print at Express Imaging.
The HP Designjet Z5400 offers the flexibility of having two media sources available simultaneously.
Logan Malan makes an adjustment to the Express Imaging's new HP Designjet Z5400 printer.
Brandon Harrop and customer Tyler Kirkham critique a Comic Con poster.
Thanks to its new wide-format capabilities, Express Imaging was able to produce much of the high-end work for Utah's first ever Comic Con.
Adding wide-format production to its lineup has enabled Express Imaging to better serve the needs of its close-knit community.
The year soon ending was one of exceptional expansion for Express Imaging in Layton, UT—in equipment, in products and services, and in customers. More of the same is expected in 2014. The firm, whose offerings include graphic design, printing, shipping, and packaging, serves a large number of small businesses and walk-in customers. Its corporate culture stresses community.
“Here in Davis County there is a big push for ‘buy local’,” explains art director Brandon Harrop. “We are big advocates of that. We know that if you buy local you keep the money among businesses all around us and we all grow together. We make it a big deal to offer so much more than other shops. That means you don’t have to outsource a thing. We can do it all here: business cards, banners, whatever it is you’re getting printed or need designed.”
Not surprisingly, customer service “is number one around here,” he says flatly. “We feel strongly that if you’re going to keep customers you really need to keep them happy. That means really getting to know them, not just acknowledging them when they walk in the door and asking what we can do for them. It’s actually having a nice, friendly conversation with them. We’ve had a lot of success from that, and a lot of compliments. People really enjoy dealing with another human being who is genuine and doesn’t have kind of a ‘punching in, punching out’ kind of attitude.” The company has a dozen employees.
Express Imaging has a number of clients who come seeking help in crafting their marketing strategies. Some, for example, “want a catalog or brochure and they’ve got a bunch of pictures but they don’t know how to put them together, or how they want it to look,” Harrop relates. “Or, they have a logo and want a postcard that matches their branding. We help them out with things like that; with presenting the best information in a way that is really going to catch the eye of the consumer.”
Owner Brooke Bone recently invested in a new HP Designjet Z5400 PostScript ePrinter, a multi-roll, wide-format printer created especially for copy shops and small commercial printers. The 44-inch device is ideal for printing large-format applications that require high image quality, such as posters, photos, canvases, backlit prints, indoor signs, point-of-sale posters, line drawings, and maps.
“We have a huge variety of things that we can print now that we couldn’t before, such as photo enlargements on really, really premium photography paper,” Harrop explains.
The Designjet Z5400 has also helped improve production. “It has two rolls on it. We can just keep our most popular roll on it at all times. For the odd projects, we have just that one roll to switch between. That keeps us from switching out every material every time. For example, color blueprints are one of the biggest things we produce here—a lot of the local construction companies and architects use it—so we keep that paper in.”
The Big Splash!
This year Comic Con came to Salt Lake City in early September—the first ever held in Utah—and it was a major boost for Express Imaging. As Harrop recalls, “We printed lots of posters with comic superheroes, lots of 12x18s—tons and tons of those, which the artists could sell right at their booths.”
The company also produced backdrops for displays, postcards, brochures, flyers, and “anything to help advertise not only the superheroes but the artists who drew them.” It was, in short, “a big deal. We printed thousands of things. A lot of the artists wanted to get their things in early, so we were busy getting jobs ready for them for most of August until the convention started.”
Perhaps the main achievement for which 2013 will be remembered, Harrop says, is that Express Imaging became able to offer a larger variety of products and services to its customers than ever before. “We have gained a lot of new photographers that we couldn’t do anything with before. Now we can put their work on canvas.”
In fact, Harrop and his team are partnering with several of the local photographic shops. “We offer them a professional discount. They can then can turn around and offer some kind of package deal to anyone they’re taking photos of and say, ‘We’ll give you this amount of photos, and for this amount of money we’ll include these enlargements.’ Then they come to us to get them done.”
For the year to come, a major goal for Express Imaging will be to aggressively market its work on canvas, “and to push the photography side of things,” Harrop explains. “In the last three months we probably have had a total of three orders of canvas, so we’d like to get the word out. People just don’t know that we offer that.”
The same goes, of course, for the rest of the growing list of products and services, he adds. “We are looking to find small businesses around us, and let the customers that we already have know about the new things we offer, and grow our company that way.”