It wasn’t a stretch for Melbourne, Fla.-based American Moulding to re-direct its business into large format inkjet printing, but it did break the mold and continues to do so with great success. American Moulding started out about 12 years ago as a distribution company for picture frame moulding and supplies. When the economy took a turn for the worse, American Moulding’s primary distribution business took a hit.
Rather than mourn the decline, American Moulding took a proactive approach and decided to start printing. Since that time three years ago the company has tripled its revenues, outpacing its original picture framing distribution business model. In other words, American Moulding’s product line has shifted almost entirely to large format inkjet printing for artists, corporations and interior decorators, while leveraging its previous expertise in framing by offering a fully finished, high-quality product.
“We do art reproduction and framing, so now it’s the total package. We had brand equity in the American Moulding name and we didn’t want to lose that with companies we were already working for. We have one large client who helped drive that for us. We did most of the framing for their art galleries and other venues. The door opened up for us when they asked if we could print a small background for them, so we bought an Epson 3800. Then the requests came in more frequently and that’s when we expanded into a 24-inch [Epson 7880] and two 44-inch printers [a Canon iPF8100 and an Epson 9900],” says Chris Bryant, owner of American Moulding. “Cutting out the distribution business was nerve-wracking at first, but we’ve been able to exceed our revenues. We’ve managed to grow it and continue to grow it by introducing new products and becoming more of a credible source with our clients. Every day and every week we continue to win more business.”
Another key component of American Moulding’s success has been customer service. Bryant has a simple explanation for American Moulding’s customer service philosophy: “We become an extension of who they are.”
Bryant explains that their concept is to be on call as if they were in the office next door, ready for action at a moment’s notice. “That way, if there’s a problem, they can call us as if we were right there on their property with them. The more we do that the deeper we ingrain ourselves in the fabric of what they do, so it makes us more in line and in tune with their philosophies.”
The most difficult part of the transition to large format printing was getting the workflow and color management issues down pat. The team at American Moulding buckled down, learned the software and utilized the technology to its fullest so that it was print-ready almost from day one.
“That was probably the biggest adjustment – making sure we had a critical eye in evaluating the art and colors and that we were getting it right every time. We’re still learning every day, but we did a good job from the beginning. The feedback we were getting from our clients was that we were getting it right the first time, rather than having to color proof it two or three times to get it right. They started having confidence in what we were doing and began shifting more work our way. We have a three-person signoff on each piece of art we produce just to evaluate color,” explains Bryant. “We went from printing small jobs of one or two prints to running limited editions. Now we have about 150 pieces of art that are still active and it grows every day.”
Bryant adds that keeping up with the latest technology and printable media has played a crucial role in the company’s growth. American Moulding is not afraid to experiment and try new media out, much to the delight of their clients.
“Canvas always comes out great, but I like playing with the fine art and watercolor papers. We also love the Sunset Photo Metallic Paper and the artists we work with love it as well. We don’t put it on everything and overuse it, but the art we print on it just jumps off the paper and the artists jump at the chance to work with it. Some paint specifically for that paper,” explains Bryant. “LexJet is constantly introducing new products to us, and they have lot of the same philosophies we have in customer service. They touch base regularly to learn more about who we are and what we do so that they’re able to give us new product ideas to effectively move our business forward. Our customer specialist, Rob Finkel, and his team have been awesome and helped us get over some of the learning curve. LexJet has been a catalyst in our growth.”