Allegra Castleton: A Wide-Open Opportunity
John and Doreen Long own Allegra Castleton, a commercial printing company in Indianapolis. Since founding their franchise in 1986, they have made a number of important strategic decisions for their business. Among the most beneficial to its bottom line was their decision to incorporate digital printing.
"Digital printing is a growth area for our business," says John Long. He estimates that digital printing currently represents approximately 13 percent of his shop's revenue. "That number is increasing every month," he adds.
What pushed the Longs to pursue digital printing? "We were getting lots of client requests for banners and posters," according to Long. "A few years ago, we realized this [digital printing] thing had legs."
In response, Allegra Castleton purchased a Roland Solijet wide-format digital printer/cutter. "We liked the benefit of the printer/cutter in one machine, and we wanted the quality Roland offers," he notes.
Allegra Castleton started as quick printer in a strip mall. It soon moved its operations to an industrial environment and away from retail sales. In 1998 the Longs built their own building, which they expanded in 2007. Now, Allegra Castleton has 12 employees housed in an 8,000-square-foot facility. The shop serves a wide variety of commercial clients, including several large financial service providers and medical corporations.
Allegra Castleton's Solijet wide-format digital printer runs every day, producing interior and exterior signage, decals, door and wall graphics, and vehicle graphics. "We try to approach each project as one piece of a total marketing plan for our customers," says Long.
Sold on Signage
The Longs often meets with clients in the Allegra Castleton conference room, which is decorated with digitally printed canvas prints and acrylic signage. "We'll be discussing a direct mail campaign, and it's fascinating to see how the conversation starts rotating over to signage. Pretty soon we're talking about something for their lobby," he reveals. "We've moved some of our printing customers over to being sign customers, and vice versa."
As part of its marketing work for clients, Allegra Castleton has wrapped everything from fleets of box trucks for its corporate cuastomers down to a single car for a local spa owner. "We've done wraps on more than 100 different types of vehicles—we've even wrapped an ice cream freezer," Long notes. They have also found a good market in commercial real estate signage—printing and installing 4x8-ft. Lumicor signs, which they re-wrap when the property is leased or sold.
Recent signage projects have included printing wall graphics on canvas and fabric materials, as well as on acrylics for commercial interiors and lobby renovations. "The Solijet printed beautifully on all the materials we put through it. The color and precision were flawless," he adds.
Allegra Castleton has even developed a niche producing event signage. Companies request banners for tower wraps along with standard directional and informational event signage. The event programs are printed by Allegra Castleton's commercial printing operations. "It's a nice marriage between the two halves of our business," he says.
"There is so much neat opportunity with digital printing. Your creativity is the only thing that holds you back," Long concludes. "Our clients are hungry for the new ideas that we bring." PI