Motivating Graphics — Making the Right Calls
Motivating Graphics’ large Bobst diecutter.
Three generations of the Clark family overseeing the company’s two facilities include (from the left): Ray Sr., Ray Jr., Chris and Tim.
Motivating Graphics relies on Singulus CD manufacturing equipment.
One of Motivating Graphics’ two Goss Sunday 2000 web presses.
Motivating Graphics’ new 64˝ KBA Rapida large-format press.
PRINTERS WHO hitch their star to a particular vertical market put themselves in a vulnerable position, given that market may experience wholesale changes and leave them holding an antiquated bag.
By all rights, Motivating Graphics’ obituary should have been written by now. The Ft. Worth, TX-based company primarily aligned with a single market from its outset in 1976, and that vertical experienced major technological shifts that would have shaken loose many vendors like apples from a tree. But, 30 years later, the Clark family—father Ray Sr., son Ray Jr. and grandsons Chris and Tim—are coming off a year in which they invested more than $20 million in equipment that further entrenches Motivating Graphics in its vertical of choice.
Of course, it helps just a little if that vertical is the telecommunications industry. Technologies may come and go at a mind-numbing pace, but one thing that will never change is the need for interpersonal communications. Thus, Motivating Graphics has seen some monumental changes in a relatively short period: Consider that when the printer was aligning itself in this space, before it was even dubbed telecommunications, electronics and two-way radios were all the rage. Then, the pager craze hit in the 1990s and faded on the heels of Y2K. Naturally, the beeper went bye-bye because of what has become perhaps the most pervasive technology to emerge since the ATM card—cell phones.
Pacing with Change
One thing remains a constant in telecommunications, and that is change. Motivating Graphics’ ability to maintain pace with the evolving needs of the industry has enabled it to forge deep relationships with the three leading phone manufacturers and many U.S. and international carriers.
“All along, we’ve had a better mousetrap,” notes Chris Clark, company vice president. “The main reasons we’ve been able to garner a lot of business is quality and turnaround. The industry has always been ‘gotta have it now,’ so our quick turn times made us what we are today.”
With facilities in Ft. Worth and Deerfield Beach, FL, Motivating Graphics generates some $70 million in annual revenues on the strength of its 350 employees. The printer is growing at a 10 percent annual clip, and the Clarks anticipate upward of 15 percent growth for 2007, buoyed by its first full year of box manufacturing. The company is also growing physically; following an expansion, the Ft. Worth campus now consists of three buildings, bringing its overall size to just more than 300,000 square feet of space.
The company also addresses some areas of the commercial printing sector, to a much lesser degree, such as publications and direct marketing pieces. The addition of some Goss machinery has enabled Motivating Graphics to move into magazine production.
Like the telecom industry, Motivating Graphics has undergone some major changes of its own, including the addition of some behemoth press hardware. In the last year alone, the printer has bolstered capacity and entered a new area that allows it to be a truly turnkey provider for the telecom realm:
• A pair of Goss Sunday 2000 web offset presses have been installed, back ended by the fully automated Muller Martini Avanti stacker. Motivating Graphics is reportedly the second U.S. printer to install the Avanti.
“It’s been a great machine,” notes Ray Clark Jr., company president, of the Sunday press technology. “We’ve been able to run around 60,000 per hour with three people, where we had four people on our older presses, running a single 16 five-over-five. Now, we typically run three times the speed and much wider webs.”
• A 40˝, 12-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 102 hybrid UV sheetfed perfector equipped with a CutStar roll-to-sheet feeder went live last month. The SM 102 was brought on to increase sheetfed capacity, especially in light of the company’s new box manufacturing capabilities.
• A 64˝, six-color KBA Rapida 162 sheetfed press with extended delivery went online last September to enable Motivating Graphics’ foray into large-format packaging. In fact, Ray Clark Jr. sees future investments centering around building on its packaging line.
“When one vendor can finish the entire package, it closes the deal for new customers,” he says. “Now that we work with the three largest phone manufacturers, it’s all word of mouth: ‘Did you see the quality from these guys? They have the latest equipment in packaging and printing.’ That’s typically how we attract new clients.”
Motivating Graphics has reached the point where, with the exception of the cell phone itself and the charger, the printer is able to provide everything else within the package. The Clarks started out just printing the manuals. But when they went the way of, or were joined by, CDs, Motivating Graphics began to manufacture CDs from scratch using polycarbonate resin. The company can now produce 100,000 CDs in just a 24-hour period.
All of the packaging, kitting and shrink wrapping is also done by Motivating Graphics, in addition to any printed materials. Subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, chips and various other techno items related to the product are warehoused and kitted on an as-needed basis.
“We’ve become a single-source solution to our telecom customers; it’s not a situation where they have to buy the CDs from one source, the boxes from another, and then find somebody to provide fulfillment,” notes Tim Clark, vice president for the company’s Florida operations. “We do it all in-house, and customers know how long their job is going to take and how much it will cost. That gives us a leading edge.”
The practice of outsourcing work has, in the past, proven to be a less-than-ideal experience for Motivating Graphics. “Outsourcing has always been a failure for us,” says Chris Clark. “Instead of making the investments, a lot of our competitors have outsourced. In today’s competitive market, you need to do it all yourself, watch it and manage it, if you’re going to be Number 1.”
Motivating Graphics opened its Ft. Worth facility in 2003 specifically with the cell phone industry in mind. A number of telecoms are located in the Lone Star State, and the location also enables the printer to easily fulfill orders for both Mexico and Canada. In fact, Mexico is viewed as a major growth area for the company this year.
“A lot of people have lost work to Mexico, but we’ve actually gained share because of our consistent quality,” adds Chris Clark. “We’ve seen a lot of growth from international companies that have moved to Mexico, but aren’t satisfied with the quality of products they’re getting.”
The Clark family takes its commitment to quality and fast turnaround times very seriously, and doesn’t have an aversion to getting their hands dirty. All four can run the equipment and never hesitate to step in when needed.
“If there’s a problem, we’re inside the machine,” Ray Clark Jr. concludes. “We’ve been able to hire and maintain an abundance of good employees because I don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do. If they’re going to work late to finish a job, I’m going to be right there beside them.” PI