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Wide angle

Nov 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Evaluating business capabilities and expanding market reach is the focus for many specialty imagers as they prepare for 2010. It's all about gaining a competitive edge and improving operations to meet the increasing number of specialized demands from customers. Finding that edge in today's marketplace not only requires staying current with market trends and technologies, but pursuing the goal of becoming a total imaging solutions provider.

One way specialty imagers are making this step is by entering the wide-format litho and wide-format digital printing markets. According to Forest Bookman, president and CEO of Forest Corp. (Twinsburg, OH), utilizing both capabilities offers incredible opportunities to take advantage of growing niche markets. The company began as a small screen printing firm in 1949 and, today, operates in a 145,000-sq.-ft. facility incorporating screen, digital and litho, and employing nearly 200 people.

Maximizing offset opportunities

Like many of today's leading point-of-purchase (POP) display producers, Forest's addition of litho and digital technologies was in response to an increased demand for large-scale offset printing projects. In October of 1998, the company acquired the assets of Central Lithograph, a 65,000-sq.-ft. offset printing facility in Cleveland.

The digital printing department also was added at this time to complement the new litho technologies. Forest Corp. went from producing basic screen-printed signs to a product line ranging from banners and window graphics to pole signs and POP stand-up displays. The firm currently serves a variety of markets including retail, automotive, entertainment, agriculture and education.

“Investing in large-format litho and digital provided our company with well-rounded capabilities that could benefit current customers as well as attract new ones,” Bookman says. “It almost felt automatic to head in this direction. This was a critical step to reach new markets and increase our customer base.”

Bookman adds, “It comes down to listening to customers and staying up to speed with market trends.” Bookman encourages companies interested in making the move into large format to make sure it's supported from a sales perspective before making any equipment purchases.

Meeting demand

Understanding your customers' needs is important; having the capabilities to effectively meet them is critical. A business approach based on targeted value enables you to build trustworthy relationships with customers, which will, in turn, lead to new opportunities. Bookman says, “By enhancing our production mix with these new technologies, we're better prepared to meet customer requests. Over the years, we have developed a clear competitive edge, and that's flexibility.”

Forest Corp. celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. See

Susan Pinta is a writer and editor for SGIA. Contact her at