It is a brave move to create a new business focus during a global economic crisis - especially when your target audience is bearing the brunt of the downturn.
For Kremer Signs, a leading supplier of signage to the property market, the decision to add a digital arm to its service has been so successful that a second eight-colour Inca Spyder has just joined an 18-month-old printer/machine at the Newbury firm. Together the digital capability of both printers is expected to help boost the company's £4m turnover by 12 per cent this year alone.
Steve Gosney, managing director, explained: "We had been looking to add digital production capacity for a long time but were never quite happy with the colour result until we saw the Inca Spyder. It gave us the colour range and finish we needed. There were other systems that were cheaper but nothing could match the quality we were looking for. The calibre of the finish was paramount and the Inca gives us that which is why, when we needed another system, Inca was our first choice."
Based on the design of the popular and highly successful Inca Spyder series of flatbed inkjet printers Kremer Sign's Spyder V supplied by Fujifilm Sericol is the newest and fastest edition. It is capable of up to 93 sqm/hr in production mode with a maximum speed of 130 sqm/hr thanks to a unique Inca designed printhead array. It has a print area of 3.2 x 1.6m capable of coping with substrates as thick as 30mm.
The Inca Spyder V's 25 picolitre drop size, combined with Inca's own print module technology, delivers precise ink drop placement and produces the excellent print quality they require. Its colour management flexibility and easy file set-up with the RIP, plus exceptional white ink opacity make it a highly adaptable system that Mr Gosney says has been fundamental to their success.
The decision has also clearly been a hit with customers as now the two presses produce almost half of 50,000 signs printed every month. Mr Gosney expands: "Our market share has increased on the back of the Spyders because people are realising that the quality is phenomenal. We are mainly printing on Correx fluted plastic and the Spyder is ideal for that medium.
"Estate agents use much more colour and imagery now to get their boards noticed and build brand awareness," explains Mr Kremer, managing director. "Consistency is vital to that. Our customers tend to place orders months apart but they need their boards to look the same no matter when they were printed. With the Spyder we know we can deliver that and do it more affordably."
As for taking the plunge at an economically unpredictable time Mr Gosney says: "We bought the first system at the beginning of the credit crunch and the second, it seems, was bought in the middle. The investment in these was not small but we were looking at the long-term rather than the short-term. At the same time our customers are now wanting to place smaller orders and this helps us to achieve that more competitively."
Kremer Signs manufactures and installs a broad range of quality signage for all aspects of the residential and commercial property market place including For Sale, To Let and Commercial boards.