Louisville Slugger: How Spectra Imaging Built a Thriving and Growing Business

Window graphics for a grocery store chain

Brian and Leslie Rogers started Spectra Imaging in their 500-square-foot garage about seven years ago with a Mac mini and a Canon iPF8000. Since that time, Spectra Imaging has grown exponentially, eventually occupying 6,000 square feet of space in a Louisville, Ky., office building, adding additional employees and ramping up its production capabilities.

Main identification sign for a companyWhile Spectra Imaging’s success is based on the usual ingredients – high-quality output, customer service and finding the right products for production – it’s the intangibles that have helped set the company apart.

First, Spectra Imaging is debt-free. All of its equipment purchases are paid for, alleviating the additional burden that debt payments can have on a company. Second, Spectra Imaging emphasizes a show-and-tell approach to sales.

“The growth of our company is attributed to our drive and determination and just getting out in front of people,” explains Brian Rogers. “You can’t just walk in there, hand them a brochure and tell them that this is what you can do. When our salespeople meet with customers they have a sample case and an iPad. There’s an image on our site of a very large sign on the front of a building for a hardware company, for example, and our salespeople have a smaller version of that exact sign, printed on the same material and applied to the same substrate. That way, they can see how the material works and what it looks like when it’s done. A brochure is not good enough.”

Wall decor graphicsRogers says this is especially effective with Photo Tex PSA Repositionable Fabric from LexJet. Customers can see first-hand how easy it is to work with and how versatile it is in a variety of applications.

Whatever the material used, Spectra Imaging is armed with physical samples and various options for a collaborative, consultative and ultimately productive meeting.

“Customers are looking for something different and unique; they don’t want the same stuff they’ve been getting. LexJet has been instrumental in keeping us updated about new products we can add to our sample case so we can show customers what’s available and what they can do with them,” adds Rogers.

Spectra Imaging can provide just about any imaging product and service to its customers, including graphic design, scanning original artwork, printing and stretching canvas, custom framing and practically any large-format application.

Photo reproduction for interior decorNow armed with two HP 9000 solvent printers, two HP Designjet 5000 aqueous inkjet printers and two Canon iPF8000s, as well as fabrication and finishing capabilities with a CNC router and a laminator, Spectra Imaging is well positioned to make its next move: hiring an additional salesperson and production specialist as well as adding more printer fire power.

Rogers says his favorite materials are the aforementioned Photo Tex PSA Fabric (both Aqueous and Solvent), LexJet Simple Adhesive Vinyl (Semi-Matte and Gloss), LexJet 10 Mil Opaque Display Film, LexJet Production Satin Photo Paper PSA and LexJet Sunset Fine Art, Photo and Canvas media.

“The great thing about Sammi [Spectra Imaging’s LexJet customer specialist Samantha Calabrese] is that she’s familiar with the products we’ve used and is quite helpful about making recommendations and letting us know about new products,” says Rogers. “Even if we’re not buying a product from LexJet, like our HP 9000, Sammi did some research and helped us find other LexJet customers who had one so we could get some feedback from them about the printer before we bought it.”

A Million and One Uses for Photo Tex Repositionable Fabric

Printing home decor with an inkjet printer

Okay. So the headline is a bit of an exaggeration. Still, print shops are finding various unorthodox ways of using Photo Tex Repositionable Fabric from LexJet.

Printing office and home decor with an inkjet printer
It looks real, but it's printed on Photo Tex and leads visitors to Spectra Imaging to find out more.

Brian Rogers, founder and CEO of Spectra Imaging in Louisville, Ky., recently took Photo Tex for a spin in his newly remodeled kitchen. A long-time user of the aqueous version of the material for commercial projects, Rogers started using the solvent version when he added solvent printers to the production mix this year.

“We love the solvent version because it’s more durable, and the color and saturation we get from it is superb,” says Rogers.

The idea to cover his kitchen walls with “slate” printed on Photo Tex was born of necessity and the intriguing faux environment he could create. Following the remodel, Rogers found that the kitchen would need to be re-painted. Instead of painting, Rogers decided to give the kitchen the custom wallpaper treatment with Photo Tex.

Printing corporate advertising
Spectra Imaging founder and CEO Brian Rogers says the graphics on these columns, printed on Photo Tex, were so seamless that passersby thought they were painted.

“We’ve done several bedrooms and a den with the same material and the applications have been remarkable,” says Rogers. “Photo Tex is very easy to work with and applying it is a breeze.”

As shown in the photos, Spectra Imaging has done a number of wall-oriented projects for its customers.

Spectra Imaging also features Photo Tex in its lobby and conference room. The larger-than-life images turn heads and lead to sales for similar applications.

Avatrex Transportable Imaging Receives 2012 InterTech Technology Award

Avatrex Transportable Imaging was named as a recipient of a 2012 InterTech Technology Award that judges selected for being truly innovative and for the significant impact the technology is expected to have on the graphic communications industry.

Award winning product for the graphic arts industryAvatrex Transportable Imaging is a thin, multi-layer coating with built-in adhesive and protection properties that can be printed with a variety of print platforms and transported to practically any surface.

Printing Industries of America recently selected 12 technologies to receive a 2012 InterTech Technology Award from a variety of technology nominations ranging from digital presses and related enhancements to a variety of mobile and Web-based software for the printing industry.

“The judges were impressed with Avatrex’s remarkable versatility – it can produce high quality images with most printing processes and bond to virtually any surface,” said Dr. Mark Bohan, vice president, Technology and Research, Printing Industries of America. “The coating technology that underlies Avatrex allows images to be used in ways previously not thought possible.”

Avatrex Transportable Imaging works across a variety of print platforms, including virtually all digital and traditional print methods: offset, flexo, screen printing, inkjet (aqueous, latex, solvent, low-solvent and UV-curable) HP Indigo and dry toner systems.

New technology for the sign and graphics market
Thomas Reprographics used LexJet Infinium, which is based on Avatrex Transportable Imaging technology, to produce these antinqued signs for a restaurant chain. Andrew McConnell of Thomas Reprographics says Infinium's ability to conform to the painted aluminum blanks made the signs look more authentic than a vinyl application.

Some of the commercial printing applications include book covers of all types, packaging and specialty labels. And, since Avatrex Transportable Imaging takes on the color and texture of the substrate, heavily textured or embossed surfaces can now be decorated with full-color, photographic images and graphics.

LexJet Infinium, which was introduced in December of 2011, is based on Avatrex Transportable Imaging technology, and is compatible with latex, solvent and low-solvent wide-format printers.

“Its significance lies in its avatar-like ability to take on the look, color and texture of whatever surface it is applied to, disappear into that surface and essentially become part of that surface, while at the same time be impervious to UV light, water, temperature and contaminants because of its inherent protective layer,” explains Ralph Giammarco, one of the developers of Avatrex Transportable Imaging. “Avatrex is the first technology to address the increasingly customized requirements of the printer.”

Beyond its application and print platform versatility, Avatrex Transportable Imaging is water-based, contains no VOCs, the carrier can be turned over and re-used as a white backer for many applications to minimize waste, and a separate laminate is not required, which cuts down on labor, time, materials and cost.

The InterTech star, a symbol of technological innovation and excellence, will be presented before an audience of industry leaders during the 2012 Premier Print Awards Gala featuring the InterTech Technology Awards and web2awards, Oct. 7, in Chicago, Illinois.

A technology review booklet showcasing all of the entries will be produced and distributed this fall at GRAPH EXPO 2012 and with the September issue of Printing Industries of America—The Magazine; the booklet will also be available at www.printing.org/InterTech.

For more information about Avatrex Transportable Imaging go to www.avatrex.com. And, to find out more about LexJet Infinium, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Upgrade to Latex by Aug. 31 and Get up to $10,000 Cash Back

Inkjet printer rebateHP announced the Upgrade to Latex Summer Promotion on its Designjet L28500 Latex Printer (104 inches), which starts today and ends on Aug. 31. Get a $10,000 cash back mail-in rebate if you currently own an eligible 54-inch or greater aqueous or solvent printer and $6,000 back if you own an eligible 42-inch to 53-inch aqueous or solvent printer.

To submit a claim, go to www.hp.com/go/upgradetolatex. Once there, you’ll need to provide the following…

  • Fax, email or send via US mail proof of purchase of HP Designjet L28500 printer with serial number on invoice and a photo of current eligible printer showing nameplate with model and serial number
  • Return the Main Print Controller board from eligible printer. HP will arrange for the pick-up and pay for the return shipping. Shipping instructions are provided with the claim submittal confirmation email

The purchase must be made before Aug. 31, 2012, the claim submitted by Sept. 30, 2012, proof of purchase and photo submitted by Oct. 31 or within 30 days of the claim submittal (whichever comes first), and the Main Print Controller board for the eligible printer returned by Nov. 30, 2012, or within 30 days of the confirmation of claim (shipping label is emailed to submitter when claim is validated and it expires within 30 days).

For more information about this Upgrade to Latex promotion and for questions about the HP Designjet L28500, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Moving on Faith and Vision at Lizza Studios

Moving to a new studio space
Lizza Studios' new space in Forty Fort, Pa. Lizza was recruited by the building's owner, David Koral, to bring an extra splash of panache to the 130,000 square-foot multi-use building.

Faith can move mountains, but can it move a two-ton custom-built Cruse Scanner? Bob Lizza, owner of Lizza Studios, thought so and the results – a successful move – reinforced his faith.

Printing custom elevatory graphics
The Lizza touch can be found just about everywhere in the new building. Here, it's art reproduced on Photo Tex and applied to the interior of one of the elevators.

But this isn’t really about moving a Cruse Scanner from one location to another, or even faith, per se. It’s really about vision: the vision of David Koral who recruited Lizza Studios to move to his eclectic location in Forty Fort, Pa., just outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and the vision of Lizza Studios.

Years ago, Koral bought an old cigar factory, all 130,000 square feet of it. As the owner of UbU Clothing, the space was a perfect fit for manufacturing. It was also the perfect fit for a diverse range of commercial and residential tenants, from a fine dining establishment (Canteen 900) to doctors, lawyers, a yoga studio, lofts, and the fine art powerhouse Lizza Studios.

Lizza Studios effectively completes the space, bringing fine-art sensibility and the ability to brand and decorate it with a variety of inkjet materials from LexJet.

Printing window graphics
Lizza Studios printed the window graphics for the patio outside the fine dining establishment Canteen 900 on Simple Perforated Window Vinyl (60/40).

“I have found great use for the sticky papers Bob uses, like window treatments, door poles and elevator graphics. His ability to take images and reproduce them on all sorts of things is an incredible experience for me; it helps put my madness on the walls,” explains Koral. “I found an old album of photographs of this building prior to starting the work on it ten years ago, and he blew them up and put them on canvas. They’re clean and clear. People are coming from all over the East Coast corridor.”

The timing was perfect. Lizza loved his studio in rural Pennsylvania, but wanted to simplify his product offering and get closer to the East Coast action. It was Lizza’s combination of faith and vision that sparked the move following a discussion with Koral about bringing Lizza Studios into the fold.

“Dave is such a visionary and such a great guy. He has placed a flourishing oasis in a desert. Our space is spectacular, and we’re moving to this building to be one of the finest fine art sources in the Northeast. He found me and talked me into moving here, and once I got down here and saw what he was doing, it was clear that it needed to be where we moved,” explains Lizza. “Now I’m seeing the bigger picture of what we can bring to the Northeast related to fine art – from sculpture to paintings – and making that a real experience for people to come here with all walks of life.”

Moving to a new buildingLizza adds that their previous location was a hindrance of sorts for attracting high-end clients from the Northeast corridor and big cities like Philadelphia and New York City. Moreover, Lizza says it was time to concentrate on what really differentiates Lizza Studios: incredibly detailed and spot-on fine-art reproduction. Framing and other peripheral services would be left behind, while the scanning and printing equipment would travel to the new location.

“The biggest lesson for me was to keep an open mind. I was able to move to an area closer to the action and really get rid of the services that really weren’t going to fit the mold of what our business really is, rather than sticking with rigidity to an old decision,” says Lizza.

Ultimately, says Lizza, it boiled down to working with the right partners, from Koral down to the vendors Lizza chooses to work with, including LexJet.

“LexJet has been an amazing part of it all; they’ve given us all the leeway we need because they’re so focused on customer service, and LexJet products are the best because of the way the company does business,” says Lizza. “When I can call at 5:55 in the afternoon on a Thursday to get canvas the next day because I need the weekend to get it done, the customer service is in place to get it done with distribution centers everywhere. It all fits together.”

As far as the physical move itself, the most important component was safely transporting the two-ton, custom-built Cruse scanner. As usual, Lizza had faith that he would find the right people to do it, though the initial mover dropped out at the last minute.

Printing decor for buildings“Moving the scanner was monumental. It’s a two-ton piece of equipment and there’s a risk that something will go wrong. There might be 100 scanners in the world like this, but this was custom built by hand; I have three lenses on my scanner, giving me a bit of an edge,” explains Lizza. “We thought we had a moving company in place, but they backed out because they had fear. We ended up finding someone just down the street from our new location who stepped in. They were flawless; we moved that scanner in four hours.”

Of course it took about four days to put it back together, and there was all the other printer equipment that needed to be moved – Lizza Studios’ Epson Stylus Pro 11880, 9900 and the low-solvent GS6000. Lizza plugged in quickly and soon made his mark all over the building with murals printed on Photo Tex Repositionable Fabric, LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl, and Simple Perforated Window Vinyl (60/40).

This Month Only: Save $50 on a 54″ x 100′ Roll of Solvent Photo Tex

Printing wall murals on an adhesive backed fabricYou may remember Photo Tex from such LexJet Blog posts as: Solving a Maze with Inkjet Printing on a Ceiling, How to Apply Wall Graphics with Photo Tex, and Printing the Big Picture for Conferences and Trade Shows, among many others.

The point is, this extremely versatile, easy-to-work-with-apply-and-remove inkjet printable fabric has become one of the most popular inkjet materials in the market over the past few years for applications as wide ranging as die-cut wall graphics, full wall murals, window graphics and even temporary vehicle graphics.

And now, the solvent/low-solvent version of Photo Tex is on sale this month only, today through June 30. So, when you buy a 54″ x 100′ roll of Solvent Photo Tex you’ll get $50 off the regular price. If you buy online, use Promo Code PTSFR. We suggest you stock up with one order (the promotion is limited to one order only) as your savings will obviously increase with each roll purchased.

As a reminder, Photo Tex is an adhesive-backed fabric with a special adhesive that makes a cinch to apply and remove and leaves no residue behind. One of the lesser-known qualities is the ability to take it down and repeatedly re-use it. Photo Tex works well for life-size photographic cut-outs, wall murals, windows, doors, sign boards, backlits and other flat, non-porous surfaces.

For more information about Photo Tex, both Solvent and Aqueous versions, and this $50 off promotion, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538. And, see how easy Photo Tex is to work with and install in the video below…