To celebrate our 40th anniversary, we take a look back at the history of Arkansas Graphics, Inc. and show you where we are heading in the future.
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince 1974, Arkansas Graphics, Inc. has been the leading commercial printer in Arkansas, serving clients across a variety of industries on projects big and small. The technology we use may have changed, but our central goal of providing high quality results and customer service has never wavered.
Where We Came From
On June 1, 1974, Dale Wilcox opened Arkansas Graphics, Inc. in the downtown Little Rock River Market and since then, he says, “I have never had an ‘I should not have done that’ moment.”
After working in the industry for years, he decided to start his own company in order to diversify the market as the color revolution exploded and customers wanted to have a greater variety of printing options. Although times were tough, by December Dale had purchased the company’s first press and hired a full-time employee.
The company had been operating for three years when Dale’s former colleague, Mike Broadaway, stepped into the picture. Dale remembers: “It’s ironic…one day he walked in and said, ‘I quit my job and I’m going to start working here Monday morning.’ No question of what he was getting paid or what he would do. He just wanted to be a part of it. The money didn’t matter.” Mike knew business and Dale knew printing, so they became partners.
In the first seven years, the business moved six times—each time to bigger locations to accommodate the workload. In 1981, the company moved to its current location on Gaines Street.
Throughout the first three decades, Dale says, the growth was exciting: “We had a few presses, but we had suppliers all over the country—Dallas, Chicago….They did great work and we could sell quality that we could produce. Our reputation through all these years has been selling quality and customer service.”
Throughout the 1990s, we were continuously recognized as one of the top 50 growing printing companies in the country, sitting at spot #20 by 1997. Year after year, we have produced print campaigns that have won advertising awards for our diversifying range of clients.
How Has the Industry Changed?
Because of digital technology and the age of new media, the printing industry has changed drastically in a very short amount of time. The days of simple brochures, catalogs, flyers, and posters are being replaced with more sophisticated forms of print marketing. We have consistently expanded our services to include the latest offerings in printing technology, more so than any other commercial printer in Arkansas.
Today, beyond traditional print advertising pieces and marketing materials, we also utilize variable data, PURLs and QR codes to produce highly-targeted direct mail and cross media campaigns that unite marketing across today’s varying media platforms. We are also the only printer in Arkansas to consistently utilize Kodak’s Staccato® screening, which produces photo-quality imaging unachievable using other screening methods.
The time we now take to deliver prints has also collapsed drastically because client expectations and our presses’ production capacities have changed.
“Forty years ago,” Mike notes, “printing cost probably more than it does today. A 4-color job could figure 2-3 weeks at best for delivery. Now it takes two days….Plus, if you can’t give results to customer in two days, then somebody else will.”
In order to provide graphic design and pre-production mock-up options to our clients, we became the first in Arkansas to open pre-press department in 1995. We also started printing digitally in 2006, which helped our customers through the economic downturn as it allowed for smaller order sizes and quicker delivery on projects.
Now in 2014, the economy is coming back to life, and so are we.
Where We Are Going
With the changing marketing mix, our goal is to become marketing execution providers, meaning we can produce anything a marketing team needs to promote their business, not just ink on paper.
Kevin Wilcox, AGI’s current president, has many goals for the future: “We want them to be able to order from us 24/7. Flexible offerings—more solutions for bigger problems and really partner with the customer to make them more successful.”
Our customers are just like us: we want to do more with less, and provide the best solutions. Looking into our future, we are expanding our ownership of smaller print shops in the state in order to provide small format printing for more unique projects. We have also started producing digital storefronts for our clients, and are looking to expand our wide format printing capabilities soon.
To all of our past and present clients, we at Arkansas Graphics, Inc. would like to say a big “Thank you!” for your business. Through every twist and turn throughout the years in the industry, we have had 40 years of fun finding the best ways to deliver the results you need. We hope you enjoy our new website. Take a look around and tell us what you think! Connect with us on social media for the latest updates, and subscribe to our blog to learn more about our processes, capabilities, and products.