By Ginny Mumm
With all the recent economic challenges, and brands increasingly employing online marketing strategies, how can a traditional print shop manage to stay both relevant and profitable? One important way is by adopting the newest, most versatile digital printing technology. The latest wide-format digital printers offer higher print speeds and wider colour gamuts, both of which help keep specific shops top-of-mind for clients in today’s competitive environment.
Graphiczoo Printing Corporation in Vancouver has stayed on the cutting edge of print production since opening its doors in 1999. We asked the “zookeeper” himself, owner Wai Tsang, about how he is able to keep his shop successful and nimble through all the changes in the printing market.
What made you decide to start Graphiczoo?
Wai Tsang (WT): I’d previously worked at Electric Zoo, a local print and design company, which was a lot of fun to be a part of. It had a super-creative environment and offered innovative solutions that were unfortunately a bit ahead of their time. With the owners’ blessing, I borrowed part of the name for a new company, which I founded more than 23 years ago.
Is it really like a zoo?
WT: We do sometimes say we’re masters of “guerilla” graphics. I’m an art-school-trained designer and so is my employee Harold Quan, but it’s a fast-paced environment, so we typically don’t have time to do too much original design work. We’re a full-service shop with a one-to-one marketing approach. We like to take the time to talk with our customers to really understand what they want.
One of the things that has changed over the years is everyone wants their projects completed faster than ever. We often get files in at noon and send out the finished product by the end of the day. For us, these days, 48 hours is a long turnaround time, so we’ve had to adapt to keep up.
Where are you located and how is your shop set up?
WT: We’re in Vancouver, just at the tip of Yaletown. It’s a busy area, and we get a lot of foot traffic. We have a 195-m2 (2,100-sf) shop with a reception area and customer service counter, and behind that is all our equipment. When customers walk in, they can see everything we’re able to do. We want clients and potential clients to understand our production process and see all the various projects we have going, unless of course a customer wants us to keep their work confidential.
We operate with two full-time employees and three part-time staffers. Harold and I are also trade-school graduates, so we’re each capable of operating the equipment and overseeing all the projects we have going at one time.
What types of equipment do you have on hand?
WT: We’ve always had a wide-format digital printer in the shop. We had an Encad printer back in the day, which we used primarily for architecture work. Later, we bought our first Roland DG printer/cutter, a SOLJET. We still have the SOLJET, and late last year, we added a 1,371.6-mm (54-in.) TrueVIS VG3-540 wide-format printer/cutter. We have a few Xerox machines, a Ricoh, and an Afinia Memjet roll label printer, along with a multitude of bindery options and lamination equipment. Whatever our customers need, we can usually provide it.