LexJet Hosting On-Site Demos for Super-Fast Canvas Wrap Production Machine

Canvas wrap production machineAs noted last week, along with a demo video at the LexJet Blog, LexJet has been selected to demonstrate and distribute the fastFrame 1000 from Swiss manufacturer Imaging Solutions AG. The automated canvas wrap machine, which produces up to 80 finished canvas wraps per hour, was one of the most talked-about products at drupa 2012, held in Dusseldorf, Germany, June 4-15.

LexJet will hold demonstrations of the fastFrame at its demo facility in Sarasota in July. To schedule an appointment to see the fastFrame in action, in person, at LexJet’s demo facility, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

“When we saw the fastFrame at drupa we were simply amazed at its production capacity. My first thought when I saw it was how much time and money it would save our customers who do high production runs of canvas gallery and museum wraps,” says Dean Lambert, LexJet vice president.

The fastFrame is a fully automated canvas stretching machine that can mount canvas onto 12″ x 8″ to 41″ x 41″ stretcher bars, finishing up to 80 canvas wraps per hour. Priced at around $153,000, it is designed for high production environments that require accuracy and quality in the finished product with the push of a button.

Automated canvas wrap machineImaging Solutions also manufactures the easyFrame, a semi-automated version priced at around $82,000 that can produce up to 45 finished canvas wraps per hour. The easyFrame is expected to arrive at LexJet’s demo center later this summer.

“LexJet was the perfect fit for the U.S. demonstration and distribution of the fastFrame. It just made sense to work with a company that has been an innovator in the inkjet printing industry, including fine art and canvas, since the industry’s inception,” says Armando Casanova of Imaging Solutions. “Plus, LexJet’s customer service is second to none, which was one of the most important elements we were looking for in a U.S. partner.”

With both the fastFrame and easyFrame you can use pre-assembled canvas stretcher frames, or you can make them yourselves. Imaging Solutions also offers a semi-automatic frame assembling machine called the fastMount.

For more information, and to schedule a demonstration in July, contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.

LexJet Now Carries GBC Laminating and Binding Supplies and Equipment

General Binding Corporation (GBC) has selected LexJet as a reseller of its laminating and binding products. Professionals in the wide format, government, corporate in-house, commercial and photography printing markets now have access to GBC’s full line of products at LexJet, including laminates and coatings, mounting adhesives, laminators, backers and binding equipment and supplies.

Laminates, laminators and binding equipment and supplies“GBC’s products are an excellent complement to our wide-format inkjet product line, and allow our customers who have binding operations to access everything they need from one source,” says John Lane, LexJet vice president. “Companies and imaging professionals that use GBC products also have access to our Nationwide Delivery Network for one-day shipping to most of the contiguous U.S., free and unlimited product and technical support and the thousands of other products we carry.”

More than 450 GBC products will be available at LexJet, including GBC’s popular Arctic and Octiva laminates and adhesives for large format printing. LexJet is hiring and training additional customer specialists to ensure the company keeps its Customer Service Promise to provide the best customer experience in the industry.

“Our focus is on our customers, and while that may be a cliché, we put that into practice by providing each of our customer specialists with in-depth, hands-on training so they can troubleshoot practically any situation,” says Jeff Leto, LexJet product manager. “Plus, we spend a lot of time with ongoing training to make sure our customers are not only getting the support they need, but the best product and product combination recommendations that will save them time and money.”

GBC products are in the process of being stocked throughout LexJet’s Nationwide Delivery Network for purchase by phone or online at www.lexjet.com. For more information about GBC’s product line at LexJet and the availability of specific products, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538. 

LexJet Acquires On a Roll Color Imaging

LexJet acquires On a Roll Color ImagingOn a Roll Color Imaging customers now have access to LexJet’s extensive and varied digital imaging product line following LexJet’s acquisition of the Orange, Calif.-based company earlier this month.

“We were able to move over to LexJet’s Sunset Select Matte Canvas from On a Roll’s canvas and there were no problems with the switch; we’re very happy with LexJet,” says Lou Fiore of Speedway Custom Photo Lab in Daytona Beach, Fla. “We also get a high level of service and support from LexJet, plus product delivery we can count on. LexJet tells me when I’m going to get my products and I get them the day they were promised, and it’s usually the next day.”

All shipping, product and customer logistics have been transitioned to LexJet and built into its technology infrastructure to ensure no interruption in service to On a Roll Color Imaging customers, who, like all LexJet customers, can expect the following:

  • Personal support: LexJet customers always speak with a person who can help them between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET. Moreover, customers who call in will not be on hold for more than ten seconds or have to navigate through frustrating and seemingly infinite phone trees
  • Products plus: LexJet customers have access to thousands of products that address the entire inkjet-printing workflow and are designed to build their business, all with unlimited and free technical and product support from personally-assigned customer specialists
  • Nationwide shipping: LexJet customers receive products quickly from its nationwide delivery network at a flat rate of $9.99 for every order, every time, no matter how large the order

“Our number-one priority – whether it’s bringing On a Roll Color Imaging’s customers on board, working with a new customer or an existing customer – is to ensure the best possible experience for each customer,” says Pete Petersen, LexJet CIO. “An integral component of that is our continual investment in technology systems so that it’s as easy as possible for our customers to get what they need. With fewer hassles and unwanted surprises in the process, they can focus on developing their core business.”

For more information about LexJet products, customer service and support and its Nationwide Delivery Network, go to www.lexjet.com or call 800-453-9538.

A Decorative Art Original: Soicher Marin

Soicher Marin, based in Sarasota, Fla., is the classic American success story. Ed Marin, who is the second-generation owner of Soicher Marin, has maintained the original vision, aesthetic and point of view of the company when it was conceived in the Los Angeles area in 1959 by Harry Soicher.

Inkjet printing decorative artworkEd’s father joined Soicher in 1960, coming to America from Argentina with $125 in his pocket he had borrowed to make his way in the land of opportunity.

Marin was a framer by trade, and the pair took their individual talents into the decorative art market, serving the interior design, home furnishings and home fashion trades. By 1972 Soicher Marin was national with showrooms in every major market. Harry Soicher passed away in 1974 and Ed Marin eventually took over operations in the early ‘90s.

“At that time a lot of us were showing up at trade shows with the same types of products, because the universe of printed art was supplied by a handful of people out of New York and London,” says Ed Marin. “My dad was buying antiques and other artwork that was in the public domain, or he would find an artist he wanted to publish, and we would go to offset printing and do limited runs. It was great because it gave us our own identity and point of view, and we were able to do things exclusive to us. The problem was that you had to be right all the time; if you made a mistake you were sitting on a lot of wasted paper, so we were very cautious about the images we put out and how we put them out.”

Art reproductions for home furnishing and decorWhen inkjet printing became a viable method of art reproduction, Soicher Marin outsourced it at first, but when it became more affordable to purchase the equipment it was brought in-house with an Epson printer and an Onyx RIP.

“We were 100 percent exclusive with our art within a year; we didn’t have anything we were buying from anyone else. We were and are very much a content-driven company and it’s been allowed to happen because of this breakthrough in technology,” says Marin.

All of Soicher Marin’s artwork is produced in-house. Marin acts as the “chief art director,” as he puts it, to ensure that a consistent look is achieved. The Soicher Marin “look” is drawn from both natural history and contemporary art. Either way, it has what Marin calls “a historical perspective” unique to Soicher Marin, which you can see in the accompanying photos.

“If we have a point of view in the industry it’s driven by the aesthetic I want to put out in the market. I have catalogs from our company that date back to the mid-‘60s and ‘70s. Obviously, the artwork and colors are different, but the aesthetic and point of view is not. There’s a common thread that runs through the product line. It’s not a conscious effort; it’s just how we think and the people who come to work here and have become involved in our design process come to see it that way as well.”

The Soicher Marin aesthetic is not forced; rather, it’s a natural extension of a corporate culture that encourages creativity, independence, leadership and customer service. Moreover, the emphasis is on the art, not the technology used to create or reproduce it.

Producing decorative artwork in-house“We don’t over-embellish, over-layer or over-digitize the artwork. We let great art speak for itself. Our biggest responsibility is to reproduce it with the highest fidelity. And the same goes for our framing; we’re very careful about the materials we pick and how we treat the art. We have a less-is-more approach to our design,” says Marin. “Although we have densitometers and other devices that help us reach the optimal, our employees have it down to an art – it’s less science and more art.”

The young artists who work at Soicher Marin are intimately involved in the design process. Marin says they’re given a lot of leeway to “go off the reservation,” and it’s encouraged. By immersing them both in the Soicher Marin aesthetic and independent creativity, the Soicher Marin brand is enhanced.

“There’s another component that’s less obvious and it’s that there’s a certain rightness to our design and point of view. In the biography of Steve Jobs I found that there was a lot of discussion about his obsession with design. There’s a design thread that runs through Apple’s products, and you can see that someone put a lot of thought into each product. There’s a certain organic nature to it,” explains Marin. “We can’t say why it is exactly that the iPhone and all the other products are so pleasing to the eye, but they just are. We look at it the same way. We obsess over small details that change something very slightly, then people stand back and say it looks right, whether it’s scale or color, and that’s the part of organic design that people have a hard time describing, but they know it when they see it. It’s something I think we accomplish here as a team.”

Designing decorative artwork for residential and commercial applications
Soicher Marin designer Thom Filicia (left) and Ed Marin.

This is an integral part of the culture, but most important are the elements of customer service and leadership. For Soicher Marin, customer service begins within the company itself. If that element is lacking, serving the end-use customer will surely lag.

Therefore, great emphasis is placed on interpersonal and interdepartmental customer service. The art department is the digital department’s customer, for instance, so the digital department must please its internal customer first. “That’s the service culture we want,” says Marin.

To foster leadership, Marin explains, “Everyone is a leader and has a responsibility to someone else. My responsibility is to mentor them, teach them, give them my time, listen to their concerns, bring them into the general conversation of the company and work on their leadership skills. Then, their job is to do the same thing with everyone under them. Even if they leave our company, we may hate to lose them, but if they lead somewhere else because of something we taught them, we look at it as a service to the community.”

Like Soicher Marin’s design aesthetic, it’s the little things that make the difference in customer service. In other words, it goes far beyond providing a great product on time. It means answering the phone, showing courtesy and giving customers all the time they need.

Framing decorative art
Ed Marin, second-generation owner of Soicher Marin, Sarasota, Fla.

“Our customer service people have the best job because they get to talk to the customer, even when that means fielding a complaint, since a complaint is often an opportunity to not only make it right, but to solidify that relationship. My dad used to say that it costs so little to keep a customer; it’s much more costly to find them than it is to keep them,” says Marin.

Marin adds that the recession has made things difficult for the entire decorative art market. Soicher Marin made because of a brand that’s more than 50 years old. “The power of the brand is almost infinite when times are tough,” says Marin.

The Soicher Marin brand is strong because the company takes a collaborative approach to branding. Soicher Marin chooses partners wisely; partners that have the same dedication to quality and detail. For instance, Soicher Marin designs artwork for Lillian August’s furniture collection for furniture maker Hickory White.

“Lillian August has a beautiful furniture collection with Hickory White and she will collaborate with us on the design of all the pictures that are supposed to go with her furniture, so it’s a de facto collaboration with an important brand like Hickory White. Our customers know that the licensing relationships we have are really strong and collaborative, which makes our company still relevant after all these years.”

For its art reproduction, Soicher Marin’s choice of giclee materials is purely subjective and vary from LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper to LexJet Sunset Fibre Matte and Sunset Hot Press Rag, as well as canvas reproductions with LexJet Sunset Select Gloss Canvas and Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Soicher Marin releases four sets of collections per year. Its two “major” seasons are spring and fall, and its two “minor” seasons are summer and winter.

“The type of art we bring to the table will determine the medium we put it on. If it’s photography, for instance, it could end up on an eSatin, a fibre-based or rag paper, based on what the image is,” says Marin.

Again, it’s the seemingly minor and subtle choices that make Soicher Marin so unique and successful in its offering. As Marin puts it, “We don’t just sell prints.”

For more information about Soicher Marin and its collections, go to www.soicher-marin.com. 

Make up Your Mind and Improve Your Sales Techniques, Part 4

The third piece in this five-part series zeroed in on the importance of honesty with our customers and channeling our efforts intelligently to obtain maximum results. I also pointed out some ideas on how to create win-win encounters with customers. These encounters lead to successful business results for the customer and for you.

Sales techniques and policiesHere, in part four, I will cover why simple, straightforward presentations and proposals help you win more business. I’ll also discuss why helping and guiding your customers in an organized way will lead to solid customer relationships and higher levels of customer satisfaction. These are points 7 and 8 from the Make Up Your Mind Essay…

7. That the power of your sales presentation will always lie in its simplicity.

All business segments have their unique “speak.” People who might be listening to a conversation between two individuals in the digital printing industry may think they are speaking in code. To them, the conversation might as well be in another language, and in many ways it is. Production folks may use terms like color correction, ink adhesion and laminate tunneling. Those of us on the inside get it, but others don’t. It’s cool. It makes us a part of the collective. It shows that we know what’s what in our profession. However, using industry slang can be a deadly trap for sales professionals. How so?

  • It doesn’t separate us from our competition
  • It works great in production, but terribly in the business office
  • It causes us to assume that the person we’re talking to understands what we’re talking about
  • We want to show our customers what we know instead of focusing on what they need
  • Our priority becomes features and functions, not benefits

You get the picture. We fall into the trap of telling customers what they should buy, instead of why it’s better to buy from us. Lexjet co-founder Art Lambert uses a phrase I like a lot when it comes to working with people who want to sell to him. He says, “Get to the verb.”

This simply means that if you want him to do/buy something, ask him what you want to do right up front. Follow that request with a solid set of reasons why doing what you ask will benefit him and his business. Here’s an example:

Request: “Art, I’m here today to ask you to move LexJet’s banking business to First Federal.”

Benefit: “First Federal will create a local LexJet-Only team focused exclusively on your financial requirements. That team will learn about the LexJet’s unique money management processes and then develop custom tailored programs to improve your financial efficiency. This will help LexJet achieve improved financial flexibility and provide for future investment and profitable growth. We have this program in place with twenty major customers now and their financial growth and efficiency has improved 18% in only two years. At LexJet’s current sales volume, our program would deliver an additional $500,000 to your annual bottom line.”

Response: “That sounds pretty good. I’d be interested in learning more about that program.”

The approach is simple, but effective. What do you want, why should I do it and why should I do it with you?

As salespeople, it’s important for us to tailor how we communicate to who we’re talking to and in what department. However, the simple approach above will most likely always move the conversation forward.

8. That the purchase must be “helped along” and is more often made because you guide the prospect’s behavior in an effective, organized manner.

There is an old sales cliché I like a lot. It says, “Stop selling, start helping.” A companion phrase that goes along with that one is, “If you’re not helping, you’re hurting.” I like these because they help me to stay focused on what matters to my customers and not what on matters to me in the salesperson/customer relationship.

Okay, so you have a solution you know will really help your customers’ business and will help them help their customers. Great! How do you help your customer integrate your solution into their current business environment? You need to have a plan. In this case you will need a new solution adoption plan.

A new solution adoption plan doesn’t tell your customer what they should do with your new solution; it answers the standard journalist questions of:

Who? Who makes it happen?

What? What detailed steps need to be taken to make it happen?

Where? Which area of the business will be positively affected?

When? What are the specific milestones and project deadline?

Why? These are the great results you will realize from doing this.

How? Your plan.

How Much? What revenue increases or cost savings will the customer receive?

The key here is to do the work for them. Make it easy for them to say yes to your solution. Guide them. Lead them. Always be the most important part of the solution. Why? When the need help, they’ll come to you. When they encounter a  problem, they come to you to solve it. When they want positive results, they come to you first.

In the final installment of this series, we’ll discuss why knowing you customer is more important that knowing your product. We’ll then close by telling you why the topics covered in this series are critical to your ongoing growth and professional development.

And, for Part 1 of this series, click here; for Part 2 click here; and for Part 3, click here.

Until next time…

Make up Your Mind and Improve Your Sales Techniques

I’m a big reader. I was fortunate enough to have worked for a company early in my career that put me through a rapid reading course. Their one-time investment in me has paid life-long dividends for my career. I’m able to read and digest large amounts of information efficiently. Why tell you this? Because I’ve used the training I received to find and read a ton of excellent articles on how to be a sales professional and not just a salesperson.

Sales techniques for sales professionalsOne brief, yet impactful piece I’ve come across during my 32 years in sales and sales management is entitled Make Up Your Mind. I’ve never been able to identify the author of this little gem, but following the simple advice it provides transformed me in several important and valuable ways.

The benefits it has given to me pale in comparison to the resulting value it has delivered to my customers. You’ll find the piece below. Over the next five weeks I will highlight and expand on two bullet points contained in the article per week. I hope it will be as beneficial and inspirational to you as it has to me…

Your power to persuade others originates from your philosophies and beliefs. Your selling philosophies determine the attitudes you develop and the habits you form. The principles of selling and living that you adhere to will move you up to join the successful people who get to the top and stay there. MAKE UP YOUR MIND to live by these principles…

  • That you are your most important customer. You must be sold on your job, your products and your ability to perform.
  • That your product and service, properly sold, is of considerably more value to your buyer than any commissions you can possible earn.
  • That time is money and that learning to manage your time productively will be one of your most profitable achievements.
  • To believe in the law of averages and the wisdom of knowing the dollar value of each of your primary activities.
  • That honest, intelligent effort is always rewarded.
  • That it is to always be a “win-win” encounter.
  • That the power of your sales presentation will always lie in its simplicity.
  • That the purchase must be “helped along” and is more often made because you guide the prospect’s behavior in an effective, organized manner.
  • That people buy today, not nearly so much because they understand your product thoroughly, but because they feel and believe that you understand them, their problems and the things they want to accomplish.
  • That almost all development is, in fact, self-development and that personal growth is the product of practice, observation and self-correction.

Let’s take a closer look at the first two important points…

1. You are your most important customer. You must be sold on your job, your products and your ability to perform.

This is the alpha and the omega. The lesson I learned is my success begins and ends with me. I must believe. Customers can sense insincerity, dishonesty and a lack of confidence from a mile away. They can also pick up on enthusiasm, integrity and self-confidence in very positive ways.

Have you ever lost a sale when you seemingly had the “best” solution and proposal? You may never find out why and the customer may not consciously   know why either. When asked they may say, “I just didn’t have a good feeling about that company.”

Since you are the face of your company to the customer, that means they didn’t have a good feeling about you. Think of it this way: You can’t take credit for a big sale and then blame a big loss on something else. The key word in the point above is sold. It only stands to reason that before you can sell, you must be sold.

The best way for you to believe that you’re a sales professional who delivers measurable value to your customers is to invest in yourself. Invest time to know more about your customers’ needs than anyone else. Invest time building on your business education. Invest time in researching your competitors, their products and how your solutions outperform theirs.

Investing in you translates into confidence in yourself. These investments will pay huge returns in your career over the long-term. Hard work equals seamless confidence. Do it for you and your customers.

2. That your product and service, properly sold, is of considerably more value to your buyer than any commissions you can possible earn.

A famous line from Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler croons, “You never count your money when you’re sittin at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.”

If you’re thinking about you, you’re not thinking about your customer. This is another one of those things customers feel without anything being said directly. Our personal income goals are not our customers’ business goals.

Your customer pays for you to solve their problems, not yours. This is really a state of mind issue for us sales professionals. Focusing on the customer and genuinely caring about their satisfaction will result not only in financial rewards for us, but also in job satisfaction. You can’t buy that!

You can’t pay yourself a dime, but your customers can reward you handsomely. Sure, they will reward you by buying from you. But by caring about them and solving their problems, they will recommend you to other potential customers. You can’t buy that either!

What is meant by “properly sold?” I’ve found that this means the customer gets a lot more than just the products they purchase from you. They get an expert who understands their business goals and can represent those goals within their organization. They get an advocate who communicates to manufacturers/suppliers on their behalf.

They get a problem-solver who knows where to go and what to do to get things done without passing the buck. They get a pro that learns to anticipate their needs and solve problems they don’t even have yet. Don’t just deliver for your customers… over-deliver.

Commit completely to what you do, accept nothing less than your absolute best when you do it and do it for your customers, not yourself. This will lay a firm foundation for being a respected sales professional instead of just another salesperson.

Until next time…