By Lisa Guerriero
Mobile graphics provide a form of advertising that is effective and comparatively inexpensive, according to numerous studies. Vehicle wraps appeal to businesses and marketers, which represents huge potential for print professionals.
Print service providers (PSPs) reap the benefits by delivering a product that’s high quality in appearance, durable, and memorable. They can charge anywhere from $800 to $4,000 for a single vehicle wrap, depending on the type of vehicle, the materials and equipment used, and whether it’s a full or partial wrap.
Fleet wraps in particular present unique challenges not found in traditional signage printing or even in single vehicle wrapping projects. The jobs are inherently large and must be printed and installed quickly, while maintaining color consistency, ensuring durability, and adjusting for the shape and size of each vehicle.
The following PSPs succeed in wrapping fleets by quickly completing quality, consistent jobs to meet clients’ expectations, regardless of the number or diversity of the vehicles.
Bruno Dede celebrates over two decades of printing graphics for vehicles, back to when he covered a car with 15-inch strips. He began working about 27 years ago for Metro Signs Inc., located in Hollywood, FL, and became owner of the company six years later.
As printing technology matured, Dede saw the potential in vehicle wrapping. When he first wrapped his own truck in a matte black, he says, “people loved it.” This led him to establish a spinoff business, Metro Wrapz, about five years ago.
Fueled by South FL’s large demand for vehicle wraps, the decision paid off. Metro Wrapz’s vehicle wrap clients include NBA player Dwayne Wade and rapper Flo Rida. Sign and graphic customers include several professional sports teams and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, hosted by the Food Network.
The PSP handles fleet wraps every couple of weeks, especially with its commercial clients, such as car dealerships, as well as police and emergency vehicles. Dede notes that emergency vehicles require more change outs than other fleets, due to the wear and tear sustained. The shop also conducts fleet work for the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat. For example, a combination of buses and minivans were completed for the Dolphins last year.
Dede says the market is saturated in South FL, so Metro Wrapz remains successful by using top equipment and materials. Of his eight printers—three used for vehicle wraps—all are Mutoh America, Inc. ValueJet VJ-1604. He says the ValueJet VJ-1604 is amazingly fast, and as a four-color machine, produces color and quality as good as any six-color machine. Using the ValueJet VJ-1604 with Mutoh’s own inks, Dede finds his prints are quick drying and no banding, which cuts down on waste.
The shop uses 3M Commercial Graphics media, for its quality as well as durability in the face of FL’s heat and humidity. Dede utilizes 3M’s Controltac Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive Series 180C for printed wraps and the 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 for solid color changes. “We never cut corners. We try to use the best materials possible,” he explains.
By setting color profiles on the three printers and running them concurrently, Metro Wrapz provides consistent color for fleets without slowing its workflow. To ensure a smooth wrap, Dede is all about precision. He describes the shop as a clean assembly line. Two trained mechanics remove vehicle parts, such as mirrors and handles. “I don’t remove every aspect for a fleet, but I try to always make it seamless,” notes Dede.
On the design side, the challenge for Metro Wrapz is helping the client develop a cohesive graphic that interacts well with each vehicle.
Sometimes, this means adjusting the graphic depending on each vehicle’s shape and size. Fleets for professional sports tend to give Metro Wrapz some latitude during the planning. “That’s always fun. They allow us to design and create,” notes Dede. With the recent job for the Miami Dolphins, for example, Metro Wrapz wrapped several corporate cars with team-oriented graphics that were similar, but not identical, to those wrapped on team buses.
One of Metro Wrapz’s unusual jobs came last Fall, when the PSP was contracted to wrap an 11 vehicle fleet for Cars Meet Art, a new feature at the Miami International Auto Show. Each vehicle was a different kind of car or truck, with each wrap designed by a different FL-based artist. Metro Wrapz provided the artists with templates and then adjusted the proofs slightly to make sure they fit the vehicles seamlessly.
Four-man crews worked on the wrapping, spending an average of two days on each vehicle. It was challenging work, but Dede relished the chance to showcase his team in an artistic setting. “That was most exciting fleet we’ve ever done. It was so unusual. Everything looked so creative,” he concludes.
The Kennickell Group
Founded in 1892 and based in Savannah, GA, The Kennickell Group provides a variety of services including wide format signage, printing, direct mail, vehicle wraps, inventory management and fulfillment, and programming.
With 65 employees, the PSP completes jobs around the U.S., as well as worldwide for clients with dealer networks. “We launched into wide format over five years ago and within the first year, we installed our first vehicle. We offer vehicle wrapping as part of our complete, whatever-you-need, philosophy here at Kennickell,” notes Brian Schomburg, lead production – wide format, Kennickell.
The company handles vehicle wraps ranging from boats to graphics. It works on fleet jobs throughout the year and is in the process of cultivating more multi-vehicle jobs, including a potential client with a 70-vehicle opportunity. For over four years, Kennickell has maintained a contract for Savannah, GA’s city buses. The buses’ wraps are replaced with new graphics whenever new advertising is sold, usually one job every few months. Most of the graphic printing and installing is handled in house for vehicle and fleet wraps, but occasionally an outside team is brought in for larger installations.
Kennickell chooses its equipment and media carefully to address the challenges of fleet wrapping. A Hewlett-Packard (HP) Latex 360 printer, used with HP’s latex ink, provides consistent colors. “This allows us to trust our color profiles, even when using different grades of vinyl. Additionally, the ink provides consistent solids as well as excellent graphic resolution with great conformability to the vehicle contours,” explains Schomburg.
For media, the company prefers ORAFOL Americas products to ensure a smooth wrap and longevity. “The vinyl allows for easy repositioning during install, but offers excellent durability for the expected duration of how long the advertiser wants the graphics to last,” points out Schomburg.
Kennickell specifically uses ORAFOL’s ORAJET 3169RA with ORAGUARD 210 laminate for shorter term wraps where the price needs to be kept lower, and ORAJET 3551RA with ORAGUARD 290 laminate for longer term projects with a higher price point. “We consult with the client and discuss their expectations on how long they expect the installed graphics to last. This, in turn, dictates to us which ORAFOL material to use, depending on cost versus longevity of the printed graphics,” says Schomburg.
Coordinating the installations of multiple vehicles in a timely manner to satisfy the customer’s needs is one challenge the PSP is commonly faced with when it comes to fleet wraps. Kennickell wraps a single vehicle in two or three days, but it might take weeks or even months to finish a fleet job, depending on the number of vehicles.
To address this issue, Schomburg explains, “we work with the client up front to determine what their needs are and then we devise a timeline to try to meet those expectations—from print production through final installation.”
Mega Graphx has wrapped over 2,000 vehicles since it opened in 2005, everything from trailers to food trucks. Based in Naples, on the Southwest coast of FL, the company offers printing and signage services, but specializes in commercial wrapping. Its team includes five full-time employees and two part-time workers.
The shop’s fleet work over the years encompasses cars, trolleys, cargo trucks, and even a job that combined a hovercraft, jet skis, and canoes. Mega Graphx currently maintains about 50 fleet accounts that are regularly serviced, either for change outs or when a new vehicle is added.
To keep up with these high-volume jobs, Jim Markling, owner, Mega Graphx, relies on two Roland DGA Corporation printers. He explains that both the SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 and SOLJET PRO III XJ-640 provide “greater productivity and unsurpassed image quality.” Markling uses Roland’s Eco-Sol MAX ink with the devices. “I’m a diehard Roland fan, they make it real easy to keep the color constant,” he notes.
Markling observes that there are a myriad choices for wrap media, and the prices for wrap kits range from $500 to over $1,000. Over time, his shop narrowed it down to two materials. It uses ORAFOL’s ORAJET 3751RA paired with ORAGUARD 290 laminate or 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3. “We like to know that we’re using the best products. This means they print and install well, but also remove easy. Taking off the wrap is just as important as putting it on,” he says.
Vehicle templates by The Bad Wrap help expedite jobs. Mega Graphx uses a 60-inch GBC laminator. For color consistency, the shop relies on SA International’s FlexiSIGN-PRO 10 and Roland VersaWorks RIP software, which “makes it easy to achieve the same colors,” notes Markling.
The shop also offers set fees, charging slightly more per square foot for jobs that entail one or two vehicles than for fleets of three or more vehicles.
It’s a Wrap
Fleet wraps represent revenue potential for PSPs. To maximize opportunity, printers must be able to ensure quick turnover for a large project. Careful selection of materials and equipment is essential, whether the fleet involves buses, airbuses, tanker trucks, or ATVs. Components must be durable, versatile, and high performing to satisfy fleet clients’ needs.
Mar2015, Digital Output