There was no master plan for Advanced Imaging Solutions (AIS) of Minnetonka, MN, to become the first business worldwide to sell the Konica Minolta AccurioWide 160 wide-format printer. In fact, AIS didn’t realize until after Allegra Marketing · Print · Mail – St. Paul had signed off on acquiring the 2,500-pound, 12-foot long machine that it was the first release worldwide.
Fate may have played a role in the printing franchise obtaining the AccurioWide, but AIS Director of Solutions Stephanie Keating Phillips credits the printer’s hunger for technology and innovation, along with the strong relationships between dealer, manufacturer and customer, as being critical to the historic installation.
John Atkinson, owner of Allegra-St. Paul, had reached out to Phillips for consultation on another machine being offered by a different manufacturer. At the time, Phillips was in California for a Konica Minolta dealer summit and was well aware of the AccurioWide 160’s pending release. An October conversation turned into a November purchase, resulting in a December installation.
Despite preparing for unknowns and challenges, there were no hiccups.
Stephanie Keating Phillips, AIS
“It was the strong partnership between the three of us—AIS, Konica Minolta and Allegra—that made everyone feel comfortable with this decision, that it was the right move,” Phillips said. “We knew there would be learning curves and it wouldn’t be a perfect first installation. We thought it would take a week to install, but it took only four days. We thought it would take a week to train, but it only took three and a half days. It’s amazing, considering we had no one to call for advice on this type of installation, since it was the first. It was a case of good timing and a good partnership.”
High-End Quality and Productivity
The new AccurioWide 160 employs UV (ultraviolet) ink technology enables more color pigment per droplet while reducing ink consumption when compared to other printers, achieving vibrant colors. Combining UV and LED (light-emitting diode) curing lamps, the new printer also speeds ink-drying times to offer print-production savings.
“Our new printer from AIS will help us better meet the needs of customers for wide-format products such as banners, decals and posters as well as wall, window and vehicle graphics,” Atkinson, owner of Allegra – St. Paul, said in a release.
While traditional printers work well on relatively narrow sheets of paper, wide-format units can print in widths up to 100 inches to enable larger applications. In addition, users of the technology can print on fabric, foam board, metal, vinyl, wallpaper and wood as well as paper and other materials.
Bringing the machine to the client proved a learning and fascinating experience for AIS. Typical installations have called for units to arrive in pieces, then assembled on the customer’s floor. The AccurioWide 160 came as a single unit, prompting AIS to hire a rigging company to deliver and requiring permits and the temporary closure of local streets.
While AIS has an extensive background in selling floor-model wide-format machines from KIP and EFI, dealing with an industrial machine that has sheetfed and rollfed capabilities proved a unique experience. However, given the staggering amount of applications this machine can provide—including signage, car wraps, building wraps—the machine can’t really be described as a niche solution.
A user’s imagination, in many aspects, is the only limitation in wide-format output. One Midwestern commercial printer hooked up with a small city government that was in the process of doing extensive building renovations, which brought unsightly scaffolding and safety fencing to the landscape. The printer used the works of a local artist to produce prints, so to speak, that completely covered the exterior of the safety fencing. The artwork turned a public blight into a visually appealing landscape.
As AIS is heavy in production print, which accounts for 45 percent of its client base, Phillips is confident of the dealer’s ability to market the machine to commercial and franchise printers, in-plants, sign shops and other bases.
“Looking at our internal customer portfolio, we have an opportunity for placement in a large percentage of our clientele,” she said. “Plus, looking at the market, we can go after sign shops that maybe we didn’t call on because we lacked the ability to sell into that market space. We have commercial and in-plant customers we call on for workgroup-type devices or light-production devices. Now we ask them about their wide-format needs.
“Most people I’ve spoken with are currently outsourcing their wide-format needs. We’re going to provide them with a cost analysis and cut down that outsourcing to bring it in-house, where they can print something on-demand. It’s very exciting for us. We’re doing a full-court press with this offering.”