By Peter Saunders
Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, Imagerie DB in Boisbriand, Que., is an illustrative example of how wide-format printing has evolved. When it was originally founded by brothers Denis and Benoit Paquette and their business partners, targeting the point-of-purchase (POP) graphics market, it marked a major transition from their earlier pre-press experience working with colour separation, films, plates and offset printers.
“Large-format printing came in for our customer base 15 years ago,” says Denis, now vice-president (VP). “When we founded Imagerie DB, we started with two 1.8-m (72-in.) pigment inkjet printers in a very small space, then grew quickly, adding larger printers over the following three to four years, including our first flatbed. This way, we could provide both large formats and large quantities.”
The Paquettes specialized in producing flexible banners and rigid signs for the Canadian fashion retail sector at a time when it was booming. As such, their business grew along with it. Some of their customers would change out their window displays every two weeks, so there was a constant opportunity for wide-format printing.
Today, Imagerie DB’s customer base is more diverse. As it became more of a one-stop print shop, the company has focused less on supplying graphics directly to retailers and more on working with marketing companies and advertising agencies representing a variety of end customers.
“Retailers are still our main customers, but that industry is struggling now, it’s not what it was,” Denis says. “Our sales team has worked hard to get more business in other markets, such as events, exhibitions and transit advertising, which will continue to grow in the future. With the equipment we have now, we can dedicate a specific machine for each different type of job.”
One challenge with the greater diversity of output, across different machines, is ensuring graphics produced for the same client match up correctly.
“When you change from one machine to another, it can be difficult to ensure they use the same colour gamut,” says Denis. “Fortunately, with our background in pre-press work, our colour management people are really good. So, our customers feel comfortable about sending us everything.”
To be able to deliver on that promise, Imagerie DB has continued to update its production facilities with new equipment, including ultraviolet-curing (UV-curing) printers and dye sublimation systems for fabric graphics, which have become increasingly popular.
“At first, we didn’t do much printing on fabric and the quality wasn’t great, but with time it has gotten much better,” says Denis. “Now, some of our retail customers have the same images up in their stores on vinyl, fabric and electrostatic (e-stat) cling material. One of them recently asked for two-sided window graphics, which we could do with UV-curable inks on vinyl or fabric, so we offered both choices, with different looks and different prices.”
Imagerie DB was also the first shop in North America to install a 3.2-m (126-in.) latex inkjet printer.
“The new printers have allowed us to be ahead of the game, expand our product offerings and stand out from our competitors,” says co-owner Benoit. “We can keep pace with our clients’ campaigns and projects, maintaining the quality they demand while also giving them more innovative options to choose from.”