Muddy feet certainly do leave an impression and the muddier the feet the more impressions you leave. That’s Todd Dofflemyer’s philosophy, figuratively speaking of course, where the mud his company gets its feet dirty with is the diversity of products it offers its customers.
Dofflemyer, owner of Muddy Feet Graphics in Harrisonburg, Va., has an extensive history in the commercial printing world; he was instrumental in bringing one of the world’s largest commercial printers into the digital world from analog back in the 1980s. When he struck out on his own less than two years ago, he combined his experience in innovation with a studious view of trends in the graphics market that has helped Muddy Feet Graphics grow quickly in a short time.
“We call ourselves a graphics company and not a sign company since we can put a logo on just about anything,” says Dofflemyer. That’s why printing t-shirts is an important component of Muddy Feet Graphics’ business. Though it represents only about 20 percent of the company’s production, it feeds the large-format graphics and sign side of the business and vice-versa.
Muddy Feet Graphics does not screen print, but instead goes direct-to-shirt with an AnaJet direct-to-garment inkjet printer. This process allows short, on-demand, custom runs that t-shirt printing has been trending toward over the past few years.
“I’d rather find a hundred people who need ten shirts, rather than ten people who need 100. People don’t want to keep a lot of inventory and potentially waste shirts, so we can customize their order so they don’t keep as much in stock,” says Dofflemyer. “When someone comes in to pick up a banner they see us making t-shirts and vice-versa, so the more things you have that are similar but not the same, the more opportunity you have.”
Another area where Muddy Feet Graphics is making inroads thanks to its logo-on-everything approach is vehicle graphics. Vehicle wraps have been slower to arrive on the scene in Virginia than hot spots like California and Florida, but once local customers saw the advertising value of it, more jobs began to roll into the shop.
“If it’s $2,500 for a vehicle wrap and you spread it across four years, the average lifetime of a fleet vehicle, it comes out to about $50 per month. Then, compare that cost and the overall effectiveness of a moving billboard to other media with less visibility and the price is easier for the customer to accept,” explains Dofflemyer.
Another trend that Dofflemyer has noticed and responded to is the more temporary nature of the requests that come through the door. For a recent bus wrap, Muddy Feet Graphics used a removable vinyl for the body of the bus and LexJet Simple Perforated Window Vinyl (60/40) for the windows.
“We used a removable vinyl for the bus project since the message will change regularly, and we used the LexJet window perf because we were having problems with the other window perf we were using.
No matter how long I let it sit it was transferring to the unprinted area of the window perf and we found the LexJet material applies easier and I don’t have a problem with the ink drying,” explains Dofflemyer. “Now it seems that everybody wants a message that’s tailored to today that could change tomorrow.
You used to see a lot more metal real estate signs, for instance, but you’re seeing more step stakes. In this economy, that house will sit there for awhile so they want to change the message a lot. Everybody needs to be more aggressive so that message needs to change more.”
And that’s good news for everyone in the large format graphics market. Additionally, Dofflemyer has noticed that clients are including a QR bar code on more of their printed pieces to take advantage of smart phone technology. A banner can serve a dual purpose of getting a quick look-at-me message with a QR code that takes the curious to a website with more in-depth information.
“Digital graphics can be distributed in all kinds of ways and we’re finding that more and more of them are simply avenues to your phone,” says Dofflemyer.
With its focus on blending printed and purely digital technologies and being ever cognizant of what its customer base needs as progress makes its forward march, Muddy Feet Graphics is poised to make good on its tagline: Make an Impression, Leave a Trail.