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Odyssey Digital Printing -- Spreading Digital's Gospel

June 2009 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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DIGITAL PRINTING is in? need of a press agent, or a PR? firm that can boost its image and explain to the masses exactly what it is capable of performing. But John Roberds, founder and president of Tulsa, OK-based Odyssey Digital Printing, knows that the role of educator, promoter and cheerleader falls squarely on the shoulders of his venerable sales staff.

Circumventing misinformation and bringing clients up to speed on the many applications, including sophisticated color variable data printing, that await them is an ongoing battle. But it's one Roberds believes Odyssey Digital is capable of winning.

"We're trying to get our customers and prospects to understand what they can produce with digital machines that they can't do otherwise," he says. "It's not just personalized mailings. There are a lot of different aspects to communicating with people. We're building the message, enabling them to understand how they can use that in their own marketing efforts."

The quest to enlighten and inform is a long and arduous one, adds Jan Fairless, co-founder of Odyssey. "What we come up against, as we prospect, is the notion of how people use digital printing," he says. "Many times, they'll say they use a digital printer, but what that really means is they have somebody that provides simple one- and two-color jobs, prototypes and proofs.

"Digital printing is not just about direct mail. So, we're doing a little missionary work to get the word out."

Odyssey's "missionary" work began in 1996, when Roberds, Fairless and a third person operated a Xeikon digital press out of a modest space in a strip mall, producing short-run brochures. The company, which celebrates its 13th anniversary this month, has grown to become a 48-employee, $6.7 million business operating out of a new, 33,000-square-foot facility.

These days, 80 percent of Odyssey's business consists of point-of-purchase (POP) materials—indoor and outdoor—as well as product labeling, shelf labels and shelf strips. Brochures and newsletters are still produced, but they represent a smaller percentage of business, along with folding cartons.

POP Customer Base

Odyssey's client roster includes typical POP recipients: retailers, convenience stores, wine/spirit distributors and food manufacturers. In the fall of 2008, the company acquired what was said to be the first Xeikon 3300 press in the western hemisphere, which utilizes 1,200 dpi LED imaging technology. It is being used by the printer to churn out carton stock and labels for various clients, including a large golf ball manufacturing company.


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