Meissner talks during a tour of Color Ink on Tuesday afternoon.
SUSSEX -Walking through the more than
100,000-square-feet of Color Ink, a person can see the multiple
components of a print media in-store display campaign for a
company. On Tuesday afternoon, hanging signs and multiple
one-sided flat signs were stacked and ready to be packaged to be
sent to Sears for its upcoming jewelry sale.
Color Ink President Todd Meissner is proud of the
various printing capabilities the 31-year-old company has,
including large format, UV and digital. It can add custom
finishes to products, such as magnets or an additional printed
Meissner took over the day-to-day operations of
the company from his father, Jim, who started a design studio
from his home in 1975. The company, Black Ink, expanded into its
own facility in Hartland, but in 1984 a change was made to start
a printing shop.
Meissner said he was the second employee in the
print shop and now his grown children are looking at joining the
business. Jim Meissner is still involved in the decision-making
at Color Ink and has his fine and contemporary art for sale in a
gallery attached to the business.
takes a printed piece off a large-format digital printer at
While Color Ink has grown to more than 120
employees - about 95 full-time and 25 to 50 temporary employees
- and has $24 million in annual sales, Meissner decided to
launch the company FunDeco three years ago. FunDeco creates
temporary furniture and toys from strong paper products.
Adding a new, innovative operation to the company
has been well-received by its employees, Meissner said. He said
they are happy to know that the company has a direction for
which it is striving.
FunDeco is still struggling to grow to the level
Meissner would like, but he said there is momentum with
placement of products on Zulily and Walmart.com and in college
bookstores, as well as its own website,
The company also has license agreements with 90 colleges and
Major League Baseball.
The furniture is intended for college students
and children. Dorm-style products include stadium chairs,
beverage and food serving centers, tables and wall clocks. For
children, FunDeco makes easel stands, doll and craft tables and
interlocking 3-D puzzles.
unique product - and navigating challenges
The hurdle for FunDeco has been getting customers
to understand the product because there is nothing else similar
on the market, Meissner said. The product is intended to be used
for about six months to a year and then disposed of, which is
often the housing cycle of a college student or the amount of
time a child has interest in a toy. The products are UV-coated
to help protect them from moisture.
Some of the
items Color Ink makes for trade shows are on display in the
design area of the company.
The core of Color Ink remains the printed product
with customers in the United States and Canada. The time leading
up to Black Friday tends to be the busiest for Color Ink,
although there are always challenges to navigate.
Meissner said one of his favorite projects was
for Macy’s. The retailer wanted a 20-foot replica shopping bag
to be displayed by the New York City store for actor Neil
Patrick Harris to stand before during a fashion event. Color Ink
doesn’t have ceilings that high, so workers had to assemble the
frame in the parking lot and add the lighting to it there.
Material for the bag was sewn by a local sail maker, he said.
When completed, it was the only item loaded on a semi and taken
Essentially it was a $20,000 shopping bag,
paper bobsled made for an Olympics sponsor at Color Ink.
“So many other companies can put ink on paper,”
Meissner said. “What we are trying to do is sell solutions.”
For example, Foot Locker will create a rendering
of an in-store display it envisions and then sends the request
for proposals to a half-dozen printing companies for their take.
Companies like Color Ink can then submit a prototype and a
breakdown of the costs in 48 hours to get the contract.
Clients’ needs and the industry continue to
change, Meissner said. Five years ago Color Ink didn’t have
digital printing capabilities, but to keep up with the industry,
it made the investment. When companies like Color Ink added
large format digital printing, in turn silk screening companies
took a hit.
coffee table made by Color Ink's subsidiary is aimed at college
“And the customer buying habits are changing as
fast,” Meissner said. For instance, many customers now wish to
reuse previously printed advertising products and want to reduce
the amount of material used or going to digital signage.
While Meissner sees the trend of the printing
agency continuing toward consolidation, he said he is committed
to staying independent and family run.
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