Interviews | February 24, 2020
Bringing Transformative Projects to Wichita
By Annabel Steele
It’s no secret that Nashville, Tennessee, has its own unique atmosphere. Nashville’s architecture and design reflects its Southern identity, with saloons, bars and plenty of hotspots honoring the iconic town’s connections to country music. Nashville, in short, is one-of-a-kind.
Unless you’re with X-Press Signs & Graphics, that is.
When a client approached X-Press Signs & Graphics and asked the company to help transform downtown Wichita, Kansas, into downtown Nashville for a fundraising event, X-Press didn’t think twice. Ron Canupp, the company’s director of business development, describes the painstaking process his team went through to recreate Nashville in the Midwest.
The client sent photographers to Nashville to photograph the city at night. When the photographers returned to Wichita with the prints, the X-Press team jumped to work, using the photos as the foundation.
“The event [in Wichita] was at night. It was mid-November, so it was cold outside,” Canupp says. “It was a challenge because you can’t wrap buildings with vinyl material unless the temperature cooperates.”
Luckily for the X-Press team, they had six days of beautiful weather in Wichita to put up their materials and bring Nashville to life.
“We covered the outside of a building and made it look like you were standing on the corner in Nashville for this fundraising event,” Canupp says. “It couldn’t have been any better.”
But X-Press was prepared in case the weather was uncooperative. The team knew the weather was ultimately out of their control, but what they could control was a contingency plan. X-Press was ready with backup ideas in case it could only get up a portion of the decorations before the fundraising event kicked off. Fortunately, the company never needed to break out those contingency plans. But the fact that they developed them in the first place is demonstrative of the attention to detail and care X-Press gives every single project.
The Wichita-based company is primarily focused on large-format printing but is capable of doing just about anything on the print side of things, Canupp says. X-Press is also visibly committed to sustainability, dedicating an entire page of its website to its sustainable efforts. These efforts include constantly evaluating the materials the company uses in its printing and upgrading to eco-friendly products whenever possible.
Canupp says that being located in Wichita is one of X-Press’s greatest strengths. The company is located smack-dab in the middle of the country, giving it an edge over its competitors on one coast or the other. No matter where in the country an order comes from, X-Press is able to ship the finished product in just a couple of days. Competitors on the coasts, on the other hand, must contend with days-long shipping times to reach clients.
“We ship to all of North America and up to Canada from time to time,” Canupp says. “I have some clients that are PSDA members that basically do stuff with us because of where we are, and they can reach each coast in three days as opposed to, say, shipping out of Florida or California and taking six days.”
The quick turnaround has helped bolster X-Press’s reputation. So has its versatility in its all-digital print house. X-Press routinely completes custom orders on a variety of materials ranging from acrylics to wood to synthetics and more. Clients know that if they have an unusual order, they can turn to X-Press to get it completed without fuss.
“If you need something special, material-wise, that’s one of the things that we’re known for,” Canupp says.
Prominent nationwide brands like Sonic and Coca-Cola have done business with X-Press for years. Canupp says the relationships with the national brands grew out of professional connections from X-Press’s owner’s son, who started his career in the promotional world.
“There’s a lot of quick-service restaurant-type groups [in Wichita],” says Canupp, and that explains why X-Press has had “longevity in the city.” Even though some of the food groups have moved their corporate headquarters out of Wichita, their relationships with X-Press remained strong, and the company continues to do work with some of these national brands.
X-Press has been a PSDA member for three years. Canupp heard about PSDA from Matt Bruno, executive vice president of PSDA, who met Canupp at a previous job. Upon joining the association, Canupp and X-Press attended multiple CEO Summits and P2P Technology + Innovation Summits. Canupp even presented at P2P in Indianapolis in 2018. “We’ve been pretty well involved in the last three years,” Canupp says.
Canupp enjoys attending the CEO Summit events in particular. According to Canupp, sitting down with executives and CEOs and learning how they are approaching business is a positive aspect of the event.
Canupp also sees room for PSDA to grow. During his talk at P2P, Canupp emphasized the importance of large-format printing for distributors. He says it can be difficult for distributors to jump into the game because of the time and resources it takes for someone to grow well-versed in that arena. Canupp perceives an opening for PSDA to jump in and help bridge the gap so that distributors can broaden their horizons when it comes to large-format printing.
Canupp is also eager to see PSDA members form stronger relationships. According to Canupp, it can be easy to approach other companies with a degree of suspicion, especially because all PSDA members are in the same industry and drawing from similar pools of clients. But Canupp says it’s important to develop good relationships within the industry. A key tenet of a good relationship is consistently clear communication. If companies communicate concisely and clearly, they can grow by helping one another grow.
In the meantime, X-Press will continue doing what it does best: delivering quality products for its clients. Every project the company completes is an important one, but Canupp admits some are more fun than others. For example, X-Press was recently chosen to help introduce Wichita’s new Minor League Baseball team.
While the stadium was being built, there was a shroud of secrecy around the team’s name. That meant the X-Press team had to work after hours to create products for the big reveal, because the name couldn’t be spoiled before the team was ready to announce it.
“The night before the reveal, we were putting graphics on the outside of buildings downtown in the dark,” Canupp says. That meant when the announcement was made that the Wind Surge was bringing minor league baseball back to Wichita, the city was already covered in graphics welcoming the team.
“We were in the know before everybody else,” Canupp says with a chuckle. “A lot of people had a lot of fun with that one.”
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