Allegra in Evanston, Ill., Meets Wide-Format Demand of Its Community
Kyle Kurz and his business partner, Frank Muns of Allegra Marketing Print Signs of Evanston, have seen many changes in the Evanston, Ill., business community in their 50 years of serving the area. Both printing industry veterans were working for separate printing companies when they decided to pull their expertise together and join forces in 2001.
Frank Muns explained: “My family owned a commercial printing company, but we didn’t have digital capabilities. Kyle’s printing business - which at that time was an American Speedy shop - handled digital and quick printing. So it was a natural marriage there and that became the current Allegra business.”
Seeing the needs of the community change over the years, and the growing sophistication of businesses in their area, both owners decided it was necessary to expand their capabilities and add new equipment to be able to provide more services in-house.
“We understand the challenges of marketing a small- to mid-sized business or nonprofit since we are also a small business,” Kurz explains. “Having consistent branding from small business cards to large banners is very important to build awareness and differentiate from competitors. A nice bonus for our customers is having one local resource who can handle it all, tip to tail, and provide the one-to-one, personal consultation.”
Today, the Evanston, Ill., Allegra shop has evolved into a full-service marketing communications provider offering marketing consultation, copywriting and graphic design services, traditional and advanced printing technologies, complete finishing services, mailing services, variable data capabilities, promotional products, signs and displays, and print management solutions.
New Wide-Format Printers Expand Capabilities
In January, the shop added a Mimaki JFX200-2513 UV flatbed printer and a Mimaki UJV55-320 roll-to-roll printer to build its roster of business printing services. The printer can now produce life-sized cutouts and murals for application on virtually any surface, opening up new opportunities for local business marketers.
“Interior designers, retailers, restaurants, hospitals and anyone who have a need for oversized graphics are virtually unlimited by materials,” Kurz notes. “Acrylic, glass, metal, wood, decorative panels, and backlit displays for indoor or outdoor use are all within easy reach.”
With the new Mimakis, Kurz says that Allegra can now print directly to the surface or the substrate - eliminating one step in the process and cutting out a layer of vinyl media. “We are also able to provide a better product in a more streamlined effort. The flatbed can also print up to 2˝ thick directly onto whatever we decide to send through there.”
With the Mimakis, the shop can also produce the work it previously needed to outsource for Northwestern, Loyola and DePaul Universities - such as the super wide-format banners.
“If we needed to produce a grand banner for a football game, we would have to outsource it because we could only go up to 5 ft. long,” Muns recalls. “We found out that locally, there weren’t many printers that could produce grand-format banners. So instead of outsourcing that work, we decided to add that service. It's opened up a lot of new areas, but it's also kept us more in charge of the quality we're putting out. We're not depending on someone else's eye.”
In February, the shop also added a new C942 envelope printer from OKI Data, to increase the speed for that work. “The envelope printer has some enhanced features that allows us to bring more color into the envelopes that we've printed or that we haven't been able to print in the past. Once again, keeping everything in-house so that we can get things turned around faster,” Kurz concludes.