Colour overdrive: Digital printer opens new doors for sign shop

By Ginny Mumm

Tyler Lygas decided to buy a Roland wide-format printer/cutter to expand his offerings.

Tyler Lygas decided to buy a Roland wide-format printer/cutter to expand his offerings.

As any entrepreneur will say, it is important to be agile when starting a business. The same holds true for Tyler Lygas, owner of Lygas Co., in Didsbury, Alta., who has not only launched several trades, but also believes in evolving to meet changing customer needs.

Soon after Lygas graduated from school, he became a certified Class 1 truck driver. When he got tired of life on
the road, he went back to school to learn about management information systems and worked for several years in the field. He later started his own information technology (IT) network and security consulting business as well as a company specializing in real estate photography.

In 2019, Lygas and his wife, Anni, founded Lygas Co., which they initially described as a clothing company. The two quickly realized they could dramatically increase profits by producing their designs in-house. And so, along with a range of used apparel-decorating equipment, Lygas also brought in an older digital printer.  

Digital production leads the way

When customers saw the digital printer in the shop, they began requesting signage along with their apparel orders.

“Soon everyone wanted signs, decals, and banners,” said Lygas. “I hadn’t anticipated we’d be using the printer for multiple applications—I thought I’d just be using it for heat transfers.”

Soon Lygas realized the old printer was unable to meet this increased demand.

“I knew we needed more speed and a broader range of inks. Also, since the equipment was vital to my business,
I wanted a good warranty,” he said. 

A self-proclaimed ‘research junkie,’ Lygas began reviewing information on the latest printer technologies. In doing so, he carefully considered both his current production needs and what he thought he might need going forward. 

“I didn’t want to ‘underbuy’ and put myself in a situation where I would have to purchase another printer within a year,” he said. “I didn’t really care much about brands to begin with, but I knew we needed a device that had all the key features important to our business. For example, print/cut was mandatory. We definitely needed a printer that could contour-cut our heat transfers, decals, and stickers.”

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After thoroughly going through all the information and running test prints with different equipment available in his area, Lygas decided to buy a state-of-the-art 1372-mm (54-in.) wide-format printer/cutter, which offered eight colours—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), as well as light cyan, light magenta, light black, and orange.

“I thought my old printer was good,” said Lygas. “But with the resolution, clarity, and vibrancy of output from the new device, the difference is night and day.”

Outfitted for growth

“We’ve been growing every single month since we got the new printer,” said Lygas, who has now rebranded his company as a full-service promotional product, apparel, and signage shop.

Along the way, Lygas expanded his offerings to include printed canvases, pop-up banners, event signage, decals, sponsor boards, vehicle lettering/decals, and door and window graphics. He also continues to produce designs on apparel, including T-shirts, hoodies, toques, and tote bags.

Lygas handles the workload at his shop with help from a part-time employee, Rina Snell, and his brother, Kyle, who looks after sales.

The store is located in a strip mall and occupies about 112 m2 (1200 sf)—the front one third of the space serves
as a sales and showroom area with plenty of samples for customers to peruse.

“People walk through our door with a wide range of needs,” said Lygas. “Often, we don’t know what kind of assignment will be coming our way.” 

Lygas frequently uses templates from the internet to create a variety of logos and designs. He also hires vendors he has worked with in the past on a contractual basis for a flat-fee design.

“I typically prefer to figure things out myself. I’m not afraid to do the research and take a stab at anything new that comes up,” he said.

Lygas feels the overall production speeds have improved significantly since they acquired the new printer. At the same time, he gets to enjoy its low maintenance requirements.

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“I’ve never had to deal with a clogged printhead or any other issue with the device,” he said. The printer’s ink formulations allow faster drying times, resulting in improved workflow efficiency. 

Providing solutions

Lygas Co., offers business-to-business (B2B) services to its clients, which include retail stores, restaurants, construction companies, doctors’ offices, law firms, welders, electricians, food corporations, hockey teams, curling bonspiels, basketball associations, and non-profit groups. The shop has also donated banners and event signage for local charities like ‘TELUS Ride for Dad,’ which works toward supporting prostate cancer research and raising public awareness of the disease.

Many clients now consider the shop as a one-stop solution for all their apparel and signage needs. Recently, Lygas and his staff designed the logo for local real estate firm AM2 Inmobiliaria, along with a large metal sign and printed a few smaller signs. The realtor is also interested in purchasing customized apparel from the shop.

“We are now able to provide everything they need with regard to marketing and branding collateral,” said Lygas.

He admits it was difficult having to say “no” to customer requests early on, before the company acquired its new printer. However, his new inkjet allows him to deliver “we can do that” promises with assurance.

The shop’s hours vary by the week. That said, its slow days are less frequent, which has led the company to grow by leaps and bounds.

“I just finished a large order of 600 signs,” he said. “And today, I feel confident accepting higher-volume projects.”

Lygas has also come up with an innovative way to improve customer satisfaction by adding value, which helps promote his clients’ companies. When printing graphics narrower than the full 1346-mm (53-in.) width of the media, Lygas fills the empty space with small stickers featuring his client’s logo.

“Clients absolutely love these free stickers, and when they post photos online, it’s free advertising for their businesses,” he said.

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Planning for the future

With an optimized workflow and a list of successful projects he can point to, Lygas is looking forward to continued growth in 2020. He now aims to extend his reach outside the city.

“Didsbury is a wonderful place, but with a population of only 5000, my target audience is not very large,” he said.

Lygas employs his IT skills to improve his website’s online ordering capabilities and also runs a few paid Facebook ads to raise awareness of his brand.

Compared to other businesses he has experimented with, Lygas enjoys the creativity and variety of his newest venture.

“With our printer’s range of colour options, speed, and versatility, there’s a lot we can do that gets people excited.”

Ginny Mumm is a freelance consultant for digital inkjet printer/cutter provider Roland DGA. For more information, visit www.rolanddga.com.

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