By Melissa Donovan
Third-generation owned family business OEC Graphics got its start in 1912, offering metal engraving with ten employees. With a second-generation owner taking the helm in the 1960s, more than two decades later the business evolved into a traditional prepress trade shop. In the 1990s, it entered into wide format.
Today, OEC is headquartered in Oshkosh, WI, with 225 employees spread out over multiple locations—Spartanburg, SC; Appleton, WI; Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; and Vancouver, British Columbia. It offers brand design, packaging graphics, premedia services, and display graphics.
Since entering into wide format print, Jon Schloesser, VP, OEC Graphics, says the company’s wide format division has grown consistently—and he still sees opportunity there.
The majority of its wide format business is related to commercial packaging and point of purchase (POP) displays. According to Schloesser, wide format is 15 percent of the company’s revenue stream. “We look at the market in three different ways—POP/point of sale (POS), event/trade show/environmental, and out-of-home advertising.”
Above: Examples of work by OEC.
POP of Packaging
Under the category of POP/POS, the company conducts packaging work, whether display advertising or short-run packaging. An example of a common project, a corrugated carton—short run, marketing piece or POS—at 1,000 pieces. Schloesser says anything beyond that number and lithographic printing becomes more economical. “We are still competing against conventional print methods, so it depends on the size of the actual display.”
Prime customers for these types of projects are those who rely on lithographic presses for various other graphics, but turn to OEC for short-run options as value add. Also, clients with their own high-end, industrial digital printers reach out to it when they have backup work or overflow.
To meet these needs today, the company works with two DigiTech flatbed printers. Its first, a 74×120-inch retrofitted device. Its newest, a DigiTech TruFire purchased in 2020. The printer is equipped with Kyocera printheads and dual CMYK and dual W.
“We believe in what DigiTech is doing and how they treat their customers. They listened to what we liked and what we didn’t. Their machines are built robustly, for high industrial use, and hold up through two to three shifts per day far better than other equipment,” shares Schloesser.
With the market more accepting of digital, Schloesser credits the DigiTech TruFire for making a big difference because of “the speeds we are able to print at now, at an even better quality, so we can take a bigger bite of the apple traditionally dominated by four-color screenprint or wide format offset.”
Over a hundred years in business, OEC is a company with a lot of history under its belt. It’s stayed true to its roots while educating itself on and implementing the newest technologies in house. The DigiTech TruFire is an ideal example.
Oct2022, Digital Output