IMAGINE! PRINT SOLUTIONS — EXCEEDING CHALLENGE
Seven years, in the grand scheme of things, is not a long time. But change doesn’t need a prolonged period to be felt keenly.
In 1998, Challenge Printing, of Eden Prairie, MN, was a 40˝ sheetfed general commercial printer. That company is long gone; no longer exists. And, without diversification, Imagine! Print Solutions may never have taken its place.
That’s not to say that companies whose specialty is general commercial offset printing are doomed to becoming one-trick ponies. But Bob Lothenbach, president and founder of Imagine!, had no interest in waiting around to find out if business as usual could provide a viable future.
”We diversified as a business before it became the fashionable thing to do,” Lothenbach states.
Virtually all traces of Challenge Printing are gone—the name, its former home and its status as a general commercial printer. In its place is the new name; a startlingly beautiful, new 400,000-square-foot facility in Shakopee, MN; and a very large-format (VLF) sheetfed offset press.
Perhaps most important is Lothenbach’s vision that diversification could not just forge a viable platform for the company’s future, but continue to spur the remarkable annual growth that has become a hallmark of Imagine! Print Solutions’ balance sheet. The growth rate would be termed unprecedented if not for the fact that it happens virtually every year—an average of 42 percent since the company’s inception in 1988.
“Our ability to serve customers across many product lines has been a significant reason for our growth,” Lothenbach says. “Couple this with an aggressive sales team and a workforce that is passionate about being the best at what they do and you have the ingredients of our recipe for success.”
The organization has made breathtaking strides since Lothenbach started Bob’s Printing (later called Challenge) in 1988 out of his garage, boasting one borrowed press and a bankroll of two grand. A past Minnesota state Entrepreneur of the Year, he has guided the now 530-member company to roughly $98 million in sales for 2005.