DMS Color Is Always 'A Couple Steps Ahead,' Making It a PI 350 Fast-Track Company
Topping the annual honor roll of the Printing Impressions 350 are its “Fast Track” companies: a sampling of those with significantly higher rates of year-over-year revenue growth than other listees. We profiled six outstanding performers.
It’s important to remember that the year-over-year sales figures reported by PI 350 companies are for the most recently completed fiscal year, and the one immediately preceding it. This means that in 2020 — for the majority of the companies that report calendar fiscal years — we are presenting 2019 versus 2018 comparisons that do not reflect the economic impact of COVID-19 on the industry, although nearly every listee experienced its effects at some point during the year.
However, we believe that the 2020 PI 350 remains an accurate index of the business strength and structural diversity that the printing industry will continue to display once the pandemic is finally behind it. As we hope profiles like the one below show, the attributes that put printing companies on the fast track are constants in the industry. They’re available at all times for other companies to emulate and, by sharing these stories of excellence, that’s precisely what we’re encouraging everyone who reads them to do.
Our congratulations to 2020’s Printing Impressions 350 Fast-Track firms, and our best wishes to all printing companies who made the most of a tough year.
DMS Color, Pelham, Ala.
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $9.9 Million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $6.8 Million
Percentage Growth: 45%
A printing machine in the basement that moves upstairs to the garage, and from there into its own production space: it’s still how some printing businesses get started. Ryan Cooper and his partner, Matthew Greer, did it that way in 2006 at the ripe ages of 25. “Everyone thought we were crazy,” the former printing equipment salesman recalls.
Everyone was wrong. Today, Cooper is the president of DMS Color, a highly diversified print service provider that regards technological leadership as its strongest leg up on the competition. Cooper isn’t shy about making the claim: “We know more about digital printing than anyone else in the U.S., and we’re very confident in saying that,” he declares.
The company got its first chance to show the world what it could do in 2010, when Cooper and Greer devised DigiFlo, a Web-to-print platform that lets users automate, organize, and optimize their ordering of personalized marketing collateral materials. Connecting with DMS Color through custom storefronts, enterprises get full visibility into who is ordering what, and in what quantities, with assurance of brand consistency — a level of control, according to Cooper, that appeals to Fortune 1000 companies and smaller businesses alike.
Avoiding the Pricing Trap
“Our power is DigiFlo,” he says, noting that more than 70,000 customer personnel have used it. DMS Color fulfills nearly all of the orders that stream through DigiFlo, building collaborative customer relationships in the process. “We don’t commoditize anything,” Cooper comments. “We rarely get into any big deals that come down to pricing.”
Printing at DMS Color is all digital, and all produced on equipment from Konica Minolta. The complement includes a pair of MGI JETvarnish machines with MGI iFOIL S, which add a variety of tactile and visual special effects to printed pieces.
These embellishment devices are key to the company’s ambitions in an industry that Cooper thinks could one day rival pharmaceuticals as a market for packaging: cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabis, which are gaining ground among consumers as more states approve marijuana products for personal use.
DMS Color wants to be a primary supplier of packaging to this burgeoning market, including customized packaging and labels in short-run quantities. Cooper says this is what inspired him to launch Gold Leaf Print & Packaging, a division aimed at the CBD and cannabis industry, three years ago. He has also introduced some of the top producers to DigiFlo, which he says “is like a dream for them” because of the way it helps these firms get into the mainstream of the packaging supply chain.
DMS Color will cater to the market with the help of the MGI JETvarnish platforms, digital roll-to-roll label presses from Konica Minolta, and some recently acquired equipment for laminating and folding/gluing. Cooper says that packaging, which presently accounts for 20% to 25% of the company’s business, could represent a much bigger piece of the action with the help of cannabis in a few years.
Cannabis isn’t the sole market focus: the clientele also includes large health care providers, banking and financial institutions, craft brewers, distillers, and whatever other customers need digital print. Besides printing and packaging, DMS Color also offers its clients wide-format printing, design and asset management services, fulfillment and warehousing, and promotional items.
Cooper credits David Rula, a third partner who came on board in 2012, for driving a large share of the company’s sales growth since then. He notes that although the business took a hit during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery was swift, and it never became necessary to lay off any of his 75 employees. He believes growth remains in prospect for 2020, despite the persistence of the pandemic.
Cooper still remembers the “fun” of launching the company in the early days, and his confidence in what the future holds for it is undiminished. “We’re just innovators,” he explains. “We have always been a couple of steps ahead of what everybody else has been doing in the print world.”