2021 Innovator of the Year: Slate Group Meets Customers' Evolving Needs
In today’s printing industry, the concept of innovation is wide in definition, but rather narrow in its goal. Leading companies have grasped many tools to define themselves, increase profitability, and differentiate. They utilize new technologies, systems integration, an expanded product mix, exemplary customer service, and more.
As a group, the eight companies included in the 2021 class of Printing Impressions’ Innovators of the Year demonstrate new approaches that can move printing businesses forward and possess strong insight into where the industry is going. Even amid the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, these companies succeed, grow, focus, and inspire.
This year’s innovators were nominated by a group of printing industry experts and consultants, who identified them as notables. The summary of Slate Group that follows shares what makes this company innovative, interesting, and exceptional. The insight it presents may provide the inspiration you need to take your company to a new level, or in a new direction.
Slate Group | Lubbock, Texas
“When someone says, ‘that’s impossible,’ we respond, ‘watch this.’” That’s Cody Peitz, marketing specialist at Slate Group, a company he describes as offering creative design, offset, digital, and wide-format printing, installation, kitting, fulfillment, and mailing services. Slate Group was purchased in 2014 by owner and President Don Denny.
“We try to be different,” Peitz says, “and love to inspire and educate people whether they’re customers or not. We like to be more than just a printer.” Given the company’s strong vision and innovation, Peitz reports Slate Group is in a growth phase, and that six of its last seven months were record-setters. Roughly 30% of the company’s business is focused on the local market — the rest is nationwide in scope.
Slate Group houses a wide range of equipment on its production floor, including two 40˝ Komori offset presses and digital printing solutions, including a fleet of HP Indigo presses and two Agfa Jeti wide-format printers.
In the past year. Slate Group expanded into a second building to house its wide-format production, which produces banners, window graphics, and vehicles wraps, in addition to printing “the largest billboard in West Texas.” The space gained in its main building has opened up an area for a new folding unit.
As a company providing a broad range of services, customer education is essential, and the Slate Group holds its annual “Print Inspired” conference, which is designed to share the possibilities and inspirations of print with current and potential customers. The company’s 2021 conference featured vendor involvement, and a session by Jonathan Ogle, co-founder and managing principal of the Infinite Agency.
Peitz says one of the overarching approaches at Slate Group is its strong commitment to “helping customers achieve their vision and meet them wherever their need is.” For example, the company can work as a full-service agency, providing concepting and creative, along with production and installation, services.
Looking ahead five years, Slate Group has the goal of becoming known as a full-service marketing agency and is currently working to expand its production capabilities into label printing for the culinary and wine markets.
In the past year, the company has also increased its full-service kitting for promotional items. Slate Group views kitting and fulfillment services as a part of its broader, full-service approach, according to Pietz.
He adds that Slate Group is currently exploring augmented reality services. This comes in response to customer interest. Augmented reality and, for instance, the use of QR codes, can lead to much more robust engagement information than static print, as well as opportunities for additional brand interaction, the company believes.