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IMAGE CORPORATION -- Color At its Core

August 2001

At first glance, Image Corporation, of San Jose, CA, might seem to offer an usual mix of services. The company currently has triangulated in on its market by offering prepress, trade show/exhibit and printing (digital and conventional offset) services. This range of services grew organically out its core competencies, reveals owner Don Watson.

"I've found that color scanning, color management, prepress and file/project management skills—the core competencies of our organization—naturally extend to a variety of different output devices and products lines," Watson explains. As the company has expanded, it has continued to focus primarily on serving the corporate market in Silicon Valley, he adds.

Watson started the company as a one-man operation, by and large, although his brother also was involved on an informal basis. Steve Watson officially joined the staff about a year later. Both brothers had traditional stripping backgrounds, which was the initial business focus of the company.

In short order, the shop's volume of work justified installing a Screen SG 737 color drum scanner, rather than jobbing out its scans. Next came a high-end assembly station, and then a duplicate drum scanner. The equipment was used to produce films for packaging, publications and general commercial work.

For one client, in particular, the commercial work included producing composite film negatives for a lot of point-of-purchase displays, according to Watson. That created a need to show composite color proofs with images. "I saw a large-format ink-jet printer at a show and realized we could bring it into the plant, color manage the device to match our scans and produce actual size ink-jet proofs of the point-of-sale displays. The client was very pleased," the company owner reports.

Profiting From Big Prints
That straightforward application led to what has turned out to be a major business opportunity in producing large-format prints for exhibit panels and in-lobby graphics. Management did have to make some adjustments to its business plan along the way, though.

"Part of our original plan included trying to sell ink-jet panels to exhibit companies, but we found we were coming in too far down stream from the clients originating the projects. We needed to be involved in the planning stage with those end clients," Watson recalls.

"We were then approached by an exhibit manufacturer, called Expo Displays, to become a dealer of its modular pop-up trade show booths. That relationship enables us to sell clients a complete solution in modular pop-up booths," he continues.



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