Veterans in the outdoor-graphics industry discuss how their companies have dealt with changes in the market and how other recent issues, such as the economic recession and the push for sustainability, have impacted their businesses.
By Lori Leaman
MCDANIEL: Well, there is not much we can do about the raw-material costs. Most of our materials are petroleum based, and we all know how that has been going. We get the increases, as does everyone else, and we must pass them along to the customer. We are helping our clients find alternative materials that are more cost effective for them. We are also looking at ways to cut energy costs internally.
RENDA: Unfortunately, we are starting to see material prices increase on items that are petroleum based. This places added pressure on us to look for ways to be more efficient so that we can keep our prices as fair as possible. We have a continuous-improvement program in place that helps facilitate this initiative.
GARCIA: We are very diligent in finding alternative methods and/or materials to lessen the negative cost impact of the rise in price of raw materials and energy cost. Since we are in a very competitive market, we are unable to pass along these cost increases; therefore, we are absorbing the drop in product margin.
SP: How has the push toward green, sustainable manufacturing affected your company and the way it produces outdoor graphics? Please explain any material or procedural changes or specific green initiatives you’ve started or plan to start soon.
NORRIS: Green is definitely the buzz word of the moment, and it certainly is being sustained in the media. It has not made a huge practical impact on our market yet. It has been a source of subject matter for graphics we produce, as it affects some of our clients. We have sold markings for flex fuel and hydrogen stations to oil companies. One of our largest clients is visible in its efforts to go green, and we have done show trailer wraps touting their progress.
We are in the early stages of exploring the purchase of one of the new greener printers being developed and using it as a marketing tool to produce graphics greenly so the client may proudly point out to the public how environmentally conscious they are by using green graphics. That sounds somewhat cynical, and it probably shouldn’t because protecting our environment is something everyone should participate in and take responsibility for. On the other hand, green technology is typically more expensive, and you can bet there will be some marketing mileage taken from it.
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