Over 30 years ago, Tony Evans saw his childhood dream come true when he opened Evans Graphics in Monessen, Pa. “I lettered my first fire truck in 1985, and I started my business four years later,” he says. “Ever since I was a little boy, it was my dream to work with fire trucks, and I would say that now, around 80% of my work is on emergency vehicles.”
Throughout the years, Evans has changed the way he creates the graphics for his clients. He’s always wanted a printer, but he wasn’t spending enough outsourcing his printing to make it worth it. When he realized he was paying as much as $1,000 a month to have another shop print his graphics, he purchased an HP Latex 115.
“I wanted to give my customers prints that mimicked gold-leaf lettering, but I couldn’t do it without a printer,” he says. “Having a printer in-house saves my customers money, saves me from outsourcing, and it allows me to be more creative with what I can do.”
Once he got the printer installed, Evans knew he would need some material for commercial jobs and non-reflective products. Although he’d never purchased from LexJet before, he reached out to sales specialist Trey Kelly who was happy to talk to him about the HP Adhesive Vinyl line.
“I print with a lot of reflective material for the emergency vehicles and I use the HP Clear Gloss Cast Overlaminate,” he says. “The cast laminate is unbelievably awesome! It has a nice high gloss, with no silvering, and it cuts beautifully. It enhances the characteristics of the reflective vinyl and makes it a little easier to handle.”
Sometimes, certain jobs will call for a little thicker laminate and that’s when Evans chooses HP Gloss Polymeric Overlaminate. “Some trucks have roll-up doors and I have to trim between every slat and for those jobs, because the Polymeric is a little thicker, it makes it easier to use,” he says. “These are flat surfaces, so it works great.”
When he’s not working with reflective vinyl, Evans uses HP Prime Gloss CP and HP Prime Gloss Air GP for various projects like signs and stickers. “I used the Prime Gloss GP last year on a cargo van and I see that van around town all the time and it still looks great,” he says. “The CP, which doesn’t have the air channels, I use for labels. Since they get cut and handled by multiple people, I don’t want the air channels to possibly cause the label or sticker to separate from the backing.”
However, it was his recent experience with the HP Optimal Gloss Air GRP that really got him fired up. Combining the conformable Optimal with the cast laminate, Evans set out to install a ‘supergraphic’ on the side of a minivan for a local pest control company. “I wasn’t sure if the Optimal would conform well because it’s not a cast film. Wow! It was great,” he says.
Panel vans have recessed areas where rear windows would be in passenger vans, and Evans thought those recesses may require the use of the heat gun to soften the vinyl during installation. As it turns out, he didn’t need to warm it up. “Everything went on without a heat gun,” he says. “The entire application, including the gas filler door. I mean, the van looks like it came that way.”
It’s not just the ease of installation that Evans loves about the vinyl. Because he’s working with the HP printer and inks, HP adhesive vinyl, and the HP laminates, he’s using quality products and getting quality results. “It prints beautifully, it cuts and weeds easily,” he says. “The HP films are good quality, they take the ink well, and they look great.”
Adding the printer last year has not only allowed him to expand his customer service and his creativity, but it also has kept him busy, especially as things started to slow down earlier this year. “With the work that I do, primarily emergency vehicles, I’m staying busy through COVID. Having the printer made me essential. I’m busier and more profitable than I’ve ever been,” he says.