Optimum Signs has installed a Canon Colorado 1650 from CMYUK at its premises in Preston and has garnered immediate star status within the company. “It’s phenomenal,” says MD, Matthew Austin. “I spoke with production manager James Garity who generally runs most of our print work, and his words were: I don’t know how the hell we coped without it. Seriously, it’s just the best thing in the world.”
Prior to the installation of the Canon Colorado 1650, Optimum Signs was running six older Mimaki printers, three of which (2 x solvent and 1 x UV) have been replaced by the Colorado, with the remaining three retained for small volume output. Other equipment in the company’s plant list includes a Kongsberg digital cutting table, Mimaki JFX 500 flatbed and Mimaki UJV 55-320.
Colorado – can’t afford to be without
The ability to deliver a possible huge campaign for a new national media client was what ultimately pushed the company towards investment in a new printer. Matt looked at several machines from different manufacturers, but after putting the Colorado through its paces at CMYUK, knew that he’d found the right solution.
“I said I’d buy the Colorado if we won the job, but we didn’t,” said Matt. “But we were still suffering with the same production issues. I soon came to realise that we couldn’t afford not to have one.
Once the Colorado was installed, it hit the ground running outputting over 800 sq.m in the first four weeks alone, something that could not have been achieved with the old production line-up.
“The ability to switch between matt and gloss is a fantastic feature,” says Matt. “The colour consistency – the fact that we can get it to match Pantones easily is impressive. We work for a national retailer that uses a particular type of blue, and the Colorado reproduces this colour the same every single time. The UV-gel inks seem to go further too,”
Optimum’s prime focus for the Colorado is to output high quality print onto good quality materials fast. A recent favour for a sign-maker to produce fifty 2m x 1.2m banners saw the Colorado output 2 rolls of material at 68 sq. m per hour. “Both rolls were printed in less than 3 hours. Literally, the guy that dropped off the media was shocked when we called to say the job was ready for collection. It was a quick turnaround but still with impeccable colour and print quality. It’s a great machine,” says Matt.
Year on year growth
Optimum Signs has grown year on year for the past seven years. The timely purchase of a Kongsberg digital cutter in 2019 helped to keep it fit, agile, and responsive throughout the Pandemic.
The company’s upward trajectory has been underpinned by a deliberate growth strategy that necessitated the company employ a Senior Project Manager, Darren Watt who was recruited to develop sales. Recognising the opportunity for outside dining bought about by COVID, the company started promoting its Alfresco range of outdoor products – including café barriers and posts, parasol umbrellas, festoon lighting, planters, awnings, canopies and the like.
This year, a General Manager will be joining the company, allowing Matt to take a step back from production and focus on R&D and Sales.
The future of Optimum Signs will see a business of two distinct parts. The company has always manufactured traditional Neon and has a department dedicated to the bending of glass for this portfolio. “It’s a beautiful product line that’s becoming more niche but also opens up lots of doors for us,” says Matt. The company also offers LED neon to the mix so it can service all requirements.
As far as large format digital output is concerned, the business will be expanding its services – establishing itself as centre of print excellence that will offer 50/50 trade services.
The success of the Alfresco products is about to become turbo charged with the launch of a new division that will involve the exclusive distribution of key products primarily aimed at the events and hospitality sectors.
In the first six months of this year Optimum Signs has already surpassed last year’s figures, making this a record breaking eighth year. So, what does Matt put this success down to?
“I would say a big element of this is luck, but my business coach would say there’s no such thing. Luck is where preparedness meets opportunity, and that opportunity is there all the time.”