Challenge Printing Undergoes Identity Change
SHAKOPEE, MN—One might think that Challenge Printing had entered the witness protection program after a slew of changes in early 2005 gave the printer a whole new persona.
With a new very large-format KBA Rapida 205 press up and running in its new 425,000-square-foot home, Challenge Printing culminated the wholesale overhaul by changing its name. The company is now called Imagine! Print Solutions.
One of the reasons for the new moniker dealt with the company's new flexographic label printing business, according to Chris Bixler, vice president of sales for Imagine! Print Solutions. An East Coast company by the name of Challenge Printing also does business in the flexo label sector. Thus, the company formerly known as Challenge Printing named its flexo label business NuQuest Print Solutions.
So with all of the other changes taking place with the printer, the time was right to roll out Imagine! Print Solutions, Bixler says.
"This is an evolution of the way we sell and of Bob's vision, to look at what's possible," he notes of owner Bob Lothenbach, who started the company from his garage as Bob's Printing in 1988. "His greatest strengths are his imagination and visionary capabilities.
"It became practical from a marketing sense. With the move into the new building, the timing for the name change was perfect."
The sheetfed printer's sales figures have surged like a runaway train, roughly doubling in sales to nearly $100 million over the last five years. That level figures to be bolstered even further with the late February startup of Imagine! Print Solutions' new six-color, 81˝ KBA Rapida 205 with UV capabilities. It is reportedly the first North American installation for KBA's very large-format (VLF) press.
According to Bixler, the company surveyed current and prospective customers and saw a need/opportunity for the point-of-purchase markets, temporary display and packaging segments. Previously, Imagine! needed to outsource the VLF portions of its retail signage jobs.
The press, which can handle substrates ranging from 48-pt. board and 80-lb. offset, was the focal point in a 51-piece, $14 million capital improvement initiative for Imagine!, which has shelled out more than $40 million for equipment over the past five years.
Imagine! was able to easily accommodate the new hardware after moving into its new location during the first few weeks of January. Its overall space burgeoned from the 250,000 square feet of space it occupied spread over three facilities in Eden Prairie, MN, to 425,000 square feet in its new Shakopee home. The building, formerly home to telecommunications provider ADC, boasts 40-foot-high ceilings and has seen more than $50 million worth of improvements.
Equally impressive was Imagine!'s ability to acquire the building for 17 cents on the dollar. Imagine that.
"The building had been for sale for 3.5 years," Bixler says. "We had outgrown our old facility and we were landlocked—couldn't build on it. We're now located on 18 acres, and our new building is expandable up to 650,000 square feet."
Expansion in the future is more than likely. Challenge/Imagine! reaped a 26 percent revenue increase in 2004, and year-to-date sales have blossomed by 30 percent.
According to Bixler, an open house is tentatively scheduled for later this year.
Continuing with its theme of getting bigger following a move to new, larger facilities, Imagine! Print Solutions has added a six-color, 81˝ KBA Rapida 205 press with UV capabilities.