Pyramid puts its money where its mouth is
In common with many other companies who embark on the lengthy transition between general sign-maker and all round graphics provider, Pyramid Visuals initially cut its colour teeth on the Gerber Edge, the thermal transfer printer first introduced by Spandex nearly a decade ago, which produces outdoor durable graphics directly on to vinyl. However, whilst most companies mark their next step down the colour route with the purchase of an Arizona or one of the new generation low-cost, solvent ink-jet printers, Pyramid has gone the whole hog and in a grand gesture, has splashed out on a Scitex XLjet. To compliment its investment in this six-colour ink-jet printer wasn’t enough, the company has also invested a further £250,000 in the purchase of a Miller Weldmaster, a machine that uses heat pressure to create highly durable, yet inconspicuous seals and seam to assist in the creation of perfect banners.
The man behind this bold enterprise is Pyramid’s chairman John Fidler, whose totally endearing “in for a penny, in for a pound” philosophy, will, he believes, pave the way for Pyramid to become one of the industry’s foremost trade suppliers. Speaking at the opening day of the company’s new 6,500 square ft headquarters in Byfleet, Surrey, Fidler explains that this latest expansion comes some ten years after Pyramid was first established in nearby Woking. He says: “The acquisition of the Gerber Edge originally provided us with the means to expand into digital colour and thus to broaden our area of operation, in fact, this aspect of the business has been so successful that increasingly, we have had to outsource some of our printing work, a clear indication that is was the right time to substantially increase our own facilities.”
Fidler’s background is actually in engineering which may go some way towards explaining his entrepreneurial zeal, but managing director Justin Murray, who along with production director Lester Meader is responsible for the day-to-day running of Pyramid, is equally enthusiastic. “We want to provide others with the sort of service that we wish we had had access to,” Murray says, adding that Pyramid’s experience of outsourcing revealed that there is a ready-made niche for it to occupy. He continues: “We’ve realised that there is a real opening for a discreet and reliable trade supplier who also understands the needs of sign-makers and their special requirements for durability. We are aiming to become the first port of call for many sign companies when a project incorporates a colour element that they can’t produce in-house.”
Once this course had been agreed upon, a major capital investment was, says Fidler, the only sensible option. “We felt that rather than purchasing an interim level printer it would, in the longer run, make more commercial sense to acquire a super-wide, high production machine that was versatile enough to accommodate anything from posters to billboards and everything in between.”
After carefully considering all of the various options on offer, the Scitex XLjet 3 emerged as the clear favourite. Fidler and Murray agree that it was the vibrancy and quality of the colour reproduction that finally swung it in the XLjets favour, but the fact that it is one of the fastest printers in its class, outputting at 75 square m/hour, coupled with the fact that it can switch effortlessly be between four-and six colour printing onto wide variety of different substrates, were also important considerations. And in order to make the most of its blistering speed, Pyramid has also invested in a hot air solvent diffuser system that will help to accelerate drying time and thus pave the way for the XLjets 24-hour a day operation, which Fidler identifies as an ultimate goal.
Remarking that this extra purchase, along with the installation of the mighty Miller Weldmaster, underlines Pyramid’s total commitment to the task in hand, Fidler says that his long years of experience in the engineering industry have taught him that dedication to quality is of paramount importance. He says: “in addition to our investment in capital equipment, we have also allied ourselves with leading vinyl manufacturing Avery in order to offer the Avery MPI Supreme Cover for the graphics that we produce, thus ensuring that our customers receive a guarantee from the film manufacturer as well as the assurance that comes with using Scitex inks and equipment. In addition, we will be using Spandex as our materials supplier of choice and will also be able to call upon its extensive knowledge of the sign industry whenever we need it. I think all of this combines to illustrate our determination to get it absolutely right.”
At present, Pyramid employs a staff of 14, including four field-based sales representatives covering Kent, Essex, Sussex, London, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire plus two in house sales people who will be promoting the new facilities up and down the country. Murray is keen to welcome further recruits, particularly those who can demonstrate a real talent for all aspects of colour management. “We’d be interested in talking to anyone who thinks that they can usefully add to the scope of our skills and service.”
This is echoed by Fidler who adds that, whilst the company’s main target is the trade customer. He is also interested in discussing how Pyramid can help other colour producers expand their own facilities. His refreshing robust attitude is summed up in the following statement: “The demand for digital colour is increasing all of the time it’s certainly a big enough cake and, provided we work together, everyone involved in all sectors of the industry will get a fair share.”