What's Printed in Vegas: Firm Meets Short-Turnarounds for Entertainment Industry
Michael Eberson isn’t a huge believer in standards. “I do things in business the way I want to see them done, rather than what normal business standards dictate,” he explains. This MO works well for his eight-year-old company, Print Las Vegas. He has attracted the top 10 grossing nightclubs in the United States as his clients—and the top three grossing in the world.
Print Las Vegas specializes in printed products for the entertainment industry, the number one industry in Sin City (even surpassing the gaming industry). These are the customers who need everything done yesterday. Whether it’s flyers, passes, menus and stickers, or banners, media walls and lollipop signs, Eberson says, “we are constantly performing miracles on a daily basis.” To that extent, jobs are done fast. Eighty to 90 percent of jobs are next-day turnarounds and, whenever possible, same day is offered without hesitation and with no rush charges.
“I don’t believe in rush fees,” Eberson asserts. “If Print Las Vegas has the ability to manufacture a product the same day, and it doesn’t cost me any more, the customer is not going to pay extra.” Sometimes, however, a client might need something same day that has to be put to digital. In that case, it would cost more simply because digital jobs cost more. “But I don’t take advantage of rush fees,” he explains. “I just want to make clients happy.”
Those satisfied clients include such entertainment giants as TAO Group (owner of TAO, Marquee and LAVO clubs), Hakkasan Group (owner of Hakkasan, Omnia and the recently acquired Light Group), SBE (owner of Hyde in the Bellagio, Double Barrel Roadhouse in the Monte Carlo and SLS Hotels) and Wynn Resorts. Wynn Las Vegas, for example, is the most profitable resort in Las Vegas, generating approximately 10 percent of its revenue from nightclubs.
Eberson has a unique relationship with these nightclubs, as he grew up in the business himself. “I’ve kind of seen and done it all,” he notes. The 42-year-old entrepreneur started out as a promoter in New York when he was 19. Tasked with corralling about 2,000 people into clubs on a weekly basis, he invariably turned to print as a means of marketing.
“I was doing so much marketing and printing on my own that I became my own broker,” he explains. “But I never wanted to be that ‘creepy old guy’ who is still running nightclubs so, after about 12 years of promoting, I starting focusing more on the print aspect of it.”
Eberson founded a successful print brokerage in New York that is still in business today. But a former business partner tipped him off that there was a demand for printing in Las Vegas, so he decided to move west for a fresh start.
Like many successful businesses, Print Las Vegas started out small—in the second bedroom of Eberson’s condo, to be exact. But within a few years, it was housed in a 4,000-square-foot facility, generating more than $1 million in annual sales. For the 2014 fiscal year, Print Las Vegas’ sales were about $1.5 million, a number that will likely rise to $2 million next year with the winning of a major contract.
Eberson attributes this quick growth to three factors: his unique expertise and knowledge of the nightclub industry, the loyalty of his clients and his hardworking staff. “I have to give my staff a lot of credit,” he says. “I couldn’t do it without them.” Because Eberson handles the bulk of nightclub accounts himself, he needs a solid team working behind the scenes to back him up. “They deserve every bit of recognition that I get,” he stresses.
Eventually, he would like to double his staff, which consists of nine to date, plus a few outside sales reps. In addition to increasing the production and graphics teams, Eberson plans to hire an account executive. “Because of our reputation, I can get clients relatively easily; I just need someone to handle their accounts,” he explains.
Eberson acknowledges that clients always have a choice of where to spend their money. But the customers that choose Print Las Vegas tend to stick with their initial choice. “If you came back in five years and we were still working with the same people, I’d say that was success,” he adds.
The fact that several of the behemoths in the Las Vegas nightclub scene choose Print Las Vegas draws more business to the shop. “When the best clubs are working with me, it’s no surprise when a lower-notch club shows up on our doorstep,” he explains. “They don’t see it as mingling with the competition; they view it as working with the best.”
Of course, great customer service is another ticket to attracting and keeping these nightclub clients. In addition to whirlwind turnaround times, Print Las Vegas has delivery drivers running all day, and 99 percent of orders are dropped off for customers’ convenience.
“I always provide a personal touch along the way,” Eberson says. Less automation and more personalization caters to each nightclub’s individual needs.
What’s printed in Vegas doesn’t actually stay in Vegas—it gets shipped around the country. “Usually, it’s hard to sell printing out of state,” he explains. “But in these situations where my clients are so big, they want everything consolidated, and they’re not worried about shipping costs.” The Hakkasan Group, for instance, has locations in New York; San Francisco; Beverly Hills, California; Miami; and Las Vegas. Certain jobs will be split up and produced locally, but many are done at Print Las Vegas and shipped via FedEx and other freight carriers.
Eberson’s ideal printing business is one that is full-service. Currently, he is working to expand his finishing capabilities so Print Las Vegas can have total control over its work.
On the offset press front, Print Las Vegas operates a pair of two-color Hamadas, but it also has the full digital printing capabilities. “We output endless jobs on our four-color Canon imagePRESS C6010,” Eberson notes. “We’ve also stepped it up with two new HP Latex wide-format printers. They’re a breath of fresh air.”
Although Print Las Vegas has a full prepress and graphics team, Eberson doesn’t push the graphic design segment of his business. “We use it as a means to keep customers happy, but we don’t really sell it,” he explains.
“We’re successful when we can rely on ourselves from start to finish—from purchasing raw materials, to manufacturing the product, to delivering a finished product to the client.”
To that extent, Print Las Vegas is playing its cards right. Eberson began with a dream of winning all the largest nightclubs in the nation as customers, and now, he says, “I’ve got the Top 10 list taken care of.” PI