Candid Worldwide/Candid Litho Excels With Wide-Format Digital
At first blush, the story behind Candid Worldwide/Candid Litho’s growth defies logic. How does a sheetfed lithographic printer based in Long Island City, New York, open a wide-format digital printing operation in New York and Las Vegas and record 50 percent growth in its second year by serving many of Sin City’s biggest gaming and entertainment clientele?
How does one just drop into Las Vegas and dominate so quickly? Grabbing a huge share of pie in Vegas and wide-format printing—two spaces of excess that have long since been well-trodden—has a fictional ring to it.
The answer to this question lacks drama. The simple truth is, Candid takes care of its customers and always has, dating back to its 1956 launch. A trite observation, one might charge, but co-owner Howard “Howie” Weinstein—who guides the company alongside brother Scott—puts the depth of relationships between the company and its customers in perspective.
“One of my clients was at my son’s Bris ceremony; my son is now 21 years old,” Weinstein relates. “We provide loving care and that helps set us apart from competitors. Everyone we deal with is treated special; they have become our extended family.”
Weinstein rattles off an impressive array of clientele—a major television network, several casinos, a high-end department store giant, a cable network empire. This isn’t Joe’s Butcher Shop we’re talking about, either; they’re all national clients. Not that there’s anything wrong with selling print to the local butcher, but that’s a client more likely to attend a vendor’s family function than a buyer who works for a multibillion-dollar concern. And since Candid was already doing business with most of these larger entities, it wasn’t difficult cross-selling its wide- and grand-format digital output capabilities to existing customers.
The ability to provide a personal touch to larger clients is part of Candid’s success story. Prior to 2013, the primarily Komori Lithrone sheetfed printing operation was providing commercial items ranging from business cards to high-volume direct mail and point-of-purchase (POP) products.
Once it opened the Las Vegas shop, now called Candid Worldwide, the brothers purchased a 21,000-square-foot facility and embarked on a two-year equipment purchase that bolstered the capabilities in both Vegas and New York: four EFI VUTEk GS5000r roll-to-roll printers, two EFI VUTEk GS3250 hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed machines and an Inca Onset S40 UV flatbed printer from Fujifilm Graphic Systems that’s equipped with optional automation systems for increased productivity. In total, the company invested more than $5 million in the upgrades.
“In all honesty, it was easy to break into the Vegas international markets due to the existing client base from our conventional litho business,” Weinstein says. “The transition to grand-format work for our clients was easy. It made perfect sense for them and their reaction has been amazing. We went from doing direct mail and producing locally for these clients and now we’re producing national campaigns, which we couldn’t have done without the Las Vegas location.”
Weinstein credits EFI for being instrumental in helping Candid get off the ground with wide-format digital printing. But the upgrades weren’t relegated to machinery. The organization brought in Brian Stephens as plant manager and Mark Caporusso as assistant general manager in New York, while Rob Jamison was given the reins in Las Vegas, along with John Gonzalez. Caporusso believes the global out-of-home digital media and advertising network, for one, offers a myriad of possibilities.
Just Scratching the Surface
“We have more options now in New York and Long Island, and there are a lot of opportunities we haven’t even touched on yet,” Caporusso says of Candid’s relationship with the out-of-home media network. “We feel we have the right demographics, as well as the right organization here to have a successful run at this business.”
While the Candid organization has done a stellar job in bringing aboard the necessary talents to ensure a smooth transition into the world of wide- and grand-format digital print production, it’s been a bit of an adjustment for the Weinsteins, who are used to the high-volume output of sheetfed offset printing. Time management becomes a key factor, but as learning curves go, it’s a comparatively light burden for a company venturing into foreign territory.
Another one of the biggest reasons for success was the hiring of Jamison, a Philadelphia native, to quarterback the Las Vegas operations. Jamison boasted 12 years of experience in producing wide-format output for the Sin City market, knew all of the players and had a good feel for the employee talent pool that the region offered.
It didn’t take long for Jamison to assemble what he considers an elite team, as his phone rang incessantly when word spread that he was manning the Las Vegas helm for Candid. Now, the plant is getting all the work it can handle, as evidenced by its 50 percent growth rate.
“Our sales are booming,” Jamison observes. “Our bi-coastal capabilities give us a real edge. We’re doing bigger and greater things. What we’ve built in Vegas is incredible. We have a very good track record of getting jobs out the door with very little waste, no mistakes and a lot of happy clients.
“Vegas is a very tough market to do business in,” he adds. “Everything is price driven, everything is three-bidded. But we are doing work for every major (gaming) company here. Now we’re trying to expand into different markets. We’re working with our sales team on different ideas, and we’ve already found new non-gaming outlets, like strip malls and dentist offices.”
Caporusso boasts 30 years of industry experience, and feels Candid’s economy of materials usage and its rock-bottom level of waste produced is more impressive than any he knows. The information Caporusso gleaned has enabled him to elevate his performance when it comes to estimating a job.
“Theoretically, printers are getting paid for what they produce, but are they really?” he says. “We look at everything as a whole and have to account for every little part of the job. A lot of minutiae goes into a job and we have to account for it, especially with margins disappearing in the industry.”
Stephens notes that the company’s reputation for excellence makes it a strong drawing card for customers and vendors alike. “If there’s something we need and we can’t get it, the vendors that work for us bend over backwards because of what we’re doing and where we’re going with this company. We try to set ourselves apart from our competitors, and they want to ride that wave with us.
“It’s a client-driven business and we do whatever we need to do to get material turned on a dime. We do whatever it takes to accommodate the needs of our customers.”
Howard Weinstein is bullish on the subject of Candid’s future growth, particularly in the wide-format arena. His sales staff of 22 is feverishly exploring a wealth of vertical markets, and Weinstein is reassured in knowing that the company is not reliant on any one or two market spaces to provide that long-term growth. And who knows, the company could one day see a third base of operations, most likely in southern Florida.
Demand for sheetfed offset output may become less prevalent down the road, but Weinstein is banking on the continued ability of his company to cross-sell its capabilities, be it wide-format digital printing or sheetfed litho. Not cross-selling all verticals, he says, is a recipe for gradual failure.
Weinstein will admit that the rapid growth of the combined Candid Litho/Candid Worldwide was somewhat unexpected. “I’m not surprised by our growth, but I’m a little surprised at how fast it has all happened,” he says. “We’re consistently busy, but there are several good reasons for that. We also do trade work for other printers. We’ve benefitted from word-of-mouth advertising, as well as from Candid Litho’s close proximity to Manhattan.
“For our Las Vegas Candid Worldwide facility, we’ve benefited from our close proximity to casinos and the ability to deliver jobs overnight to California. The California market is huge. We’re also active in national marketing events and are members of the Advertising Production Club. All of these advantages and activities have proven to be huge for us.” PI