In the tradeshow industry, there are multiple sources or providers for graphics – display and exhibit houses, and of course, full-service graphics production companies.
One of the top reasons companies outsource their graphics is due to the costs associated with printing equipment.
Three companies shared the pros and cons of carrying or outsourcing printing equipment: Super Color Digital, a full-service graphics production company in multiple U.S. locations; Exhibit Network, a Texas-based exhibit house that aims to give customers diverse, turnkey services in-house or by outsourcing; and Gilbert Displays, a New York-based exhibit firm that does a majority of its graphics in-house while outsourcing a few specialized tasks.
Super Color Digital
Super Color Digital’s capabilities and opportunities has expanded due to buying and operating grand- and large-format printing equipment, something some companies with different business models cite as being too expensive to carry in-house.
“Super Color Digital’s first service to the market was grand-format prints in the early ‘90s, but soon in 1997, large print equipment was available. [It made] Super Color Digital the first company west of the Mississippi to purchase this type of equipment, leaving the company to spearhead new possibilities in grand- and large-format printing,” said Denise Rodriguez, junior marketing, Super Color Digital.
Although there are risks and costs associated with owning grand- and large-format printers, added Rodriguez, the company found that investing in quality equipment and researching future trends helped to eliminate future cost.
“[Benefits] vary from company to company. By owning equipment, a company has the benefit of taxing the machinery for an extended amount of time. However, it’s imperative to note technology is ever changing and can be costly. It is important each business looks at what their mission is to better service their clients’ needs,” stated Rodriguez.
Ever-changing technology is one of the main reasons Exhibit Network outsources printing equipment.
“Keeping the most up-to-date equipment and software rips, not to mention staffing requirements can be prohibitively expensive for smaller companies. Our partners are like an extension of our business anyway, so why reinvent the wheel?!” stated Randy Bennett, director of Technology & Design, Exhibit Network.
The company implements small-scale graphics projects in-house, but investing in large-format printers doesn’t fit its business model.
“Unless you are an extremely high-volume facility or support multiple locations with high-volume, large scale in-house, it just doesn’t make sense,” he added. “Large-format printers, fabric printing and direct-to-surface printing require such specialized equipment that [outsourcing] is far more cost-effective for us and especially our clients.”
What Exhibit Network finds beneficial is having in-house graphics experts who are not only knowledgeable, but could also install the graphics to better serve clients.
Gilbert Displays outsources a few specialized tasks, such as tension fabrics, large banners and water-jet projects, but for the most part, it does the majority of its graphics in-house.
“There’s greater quality control over the graphics being produced. By cutting out the third party, we can better serve our clients by being able to respond in a timely manner as well as provide a quicker turnaround time. We are better able to control the pricing for our clients since there is no third party. Tighter integration with the rest of the exhibit’s planning and production results in a better overall product,” explained Desireé M. Olivera, marketing communications coordinator, Gilbert Displays.
Olivera also understands why some companies choose to outsource graphics printing equipment and why some carry it in-house.
“Some items that are too expensive are grand-format printers and water-jets. Projects requiring this type of equipment would be outsourced,” stated Olivera. But she can also see the other side, adding “Owning printing equipment allows for greater quality control, faster turnaround times and quicker response time to our clients.”
She noted that the initial high investment needed to create an in-house graphics department eventually lessens due to increased benefits.