Heart of America Beverage, based in Springfield, Mo., thrives on the unusual when it comes to promoting its brands through point-of-sale promotions. “The signs and promotions we get into can be ridiculous, like mini-fridges, bar wraps, and big graphics on the sides of buildings. It’s the out-of-the-ordinary signage that gets the most attention in the market, which is more advertising for our brands and for the accounts we’re serving,” says Steve Teters, graphic designer for Heart of America Beverage in Springfield. “Our salespeople can go relatively crazy and pitch just about anything to give our brands maximum visibility.”
Heart of America, which used to be known as The Beer Company before it acquired Heart of America Beverage and adopted the name, has in-house printing capabilities in three of its four locations, which are spread out from Springfield to Joplin and Sedalia in Missouri, and into Oklahoma. The Springfield branch is the hub of the Heart of America wheel and is the primary printing center.
Teters says that print volume has increased significantly in recent years, prompting Heart of America to invest in two large format Canon printers. As a result, production has increased and the print operation has become more efficient in the process.
“The Canon printers are three to four times faster than our old HP 5500, and they use a lot less ink. The image quality is great, the inks don’t fade, and I’m using 30-40 percent less ink, which saves a ton of money. Before, I was changing inks out every two weeks, and now I’m still going with the same set after a month and a half,” says Teters. “I’m so ecstatic about the Canon printers. I’ve always had only one printer so I was constantly switching paper, and now I have my photo paper in one and my PSA in the other.”
Heart of Promotion
Heart of America’s Canon printers are driven by Photoshop and FlexiSIGN Pro 8.5. Teters prints his runs to a take-up reel, which allows Teters to unroll and trim the graphics quickly. Typical print materials include LexJet 8 Mil Photo Gloss Extra, LexJet TOUGHcoat Thrifty Banner, LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, LexJet 7 Mil Ultra Photo Gloss w/ PSA, and LexJet 7 Mil Absolute Backlit. This range of materials is now conveniently divided up between PSA (pressure-sensitive adhesive) and non-PSA on the two Canon printers.
Another important component of the Heart of America print shop is its OKI C9650hdn Printer, which has significantly eased the shop’s burden since it was acquired from LexJet in May. “When I first started I didn’t have an OKI, and when it was first pitched to me I didn’t think I needed it. Now I can’t live without the OKI,” says Teters. “We used to print prices on a clear adhesive-back material on the large-format printer. Then I’d have to cut out every little price and stick it to every price card, which was a nightmare with 4,000 numbers and trying to match those to the individual price cards. With the OKI, you just print and it’s ready to go. The OKI runs non-stop for shelf tags, price cards, table tents, and a lot of 8.5 x 11s for bars advertising the bands they’re featuring that week.”
Teters runs Promo-Point Shelf Talkers, Decals, Glossy Cardstock, Matte Cardstock, and Table Tents through the OKI on an almost daily basis. The OKI printer and the two Canon printers have combined to increase production by about 100 percent while reducing waste and labor by half.
The Springfield location alone handles 950 accounts. The majority of these are convenience stores, which are unusually numerous in Springfield. Teters says it seems like there’s a c-store on every corner, so much of the printing in Springfield is geared in this direction. The key in this venue is visibility, so Heart of America is always looking for ways to get its brands noticed.
“We’ll apply the photo adhesive material to both sides of a piece of Coroplast, grommet the corners and hang it over the display, as opposed to placing it at the same level as the display,” says Teters. “That way, you see it right when you walk in the door, rather than if you happen to stumble upon the display as you walk through the store. That was a little detail that helped us sell a lot of beer.”
In Missouri, there are no regulations that prohibit co-branding signage and advertising between a distributor and its account, so Heart of America takes advantage of this as much as possible with big, colorful wall graphics that adorn the sides of various establishments in Springfield. The point is to create long-term advertising opportunities that cement the brand and help ease the print shop volume with fewer temporary sign and banner change-outs.
Kegerators are another big hit in Springfield and surrounding areas. Heart of America builds and decorates them with printed vinyl wraps. The custom creations simply sell beer, which is the whole point. However, the kegerators are labor-intensive and take time to complete, so Teters has to be selective about when to make them.
“Customers love the kegerators, and it’s great advertising for their store and our product. We do a bunch of them for football season; we’ll probably do six for Super Bowl this year. But we try not to overdo it, because they’re so time-consuming,” says Teters, who adds that they typically decorate the kegerators with LexJet 7 Mil Ultra Photo Gloss w/ PSA.