Paramount Promotions (Paramount), a vibrant printing company based in Phoenix, Arizona, had its successful business path turned upside down last year (April, 2015) after a devastating shop fire that occurred (see previous coverage "Overcoming Adversity," in the October 2015 of SDG). Since then, Paramount has come back strong because of a lot of hard work from its employees and an absolute outpouring of local support from its customers.
Speeding Up Expansion
Prior to the fire, Paramount’s business was already growing beyond production capacity. While the fire was not an ideal motivational tool, it did speed up the expansion process and the decision of "how or when” was simplified.
Before the fire, Paramount was developing an improved website that would include an online ordering, payment and customer service system. When the fire occurred, it was even more evident the system was needed. The timing of this changeover was impeccable and Paramount transitioned customers to an online ordering system within days of the fire. Orders continued to be produced by outsourcing jobs to local supporting businesses as well as Paramount’s out-of-state facilities without skipping a beat during the transition.
From a customer standpoint, the online ordering system made the process easier. It has actually improved turnaround time and production time, and Paramount's customers can now track their order every step of the way in the production process. This new platform takes an entire step out of the previous billing process, allowing customers to pay online when they place an order—this goes for both small-scale projects and large-scale projects.
The Final Move
By the latter half of 2015 Paramount had moved its operations from the temporary location to its new building. The company has been renovating the new state-of-the-art, 17,000 square foot production facility, which provides an additional 8,000 square feet of workspace and now allows them to display finished products for customers. This has also enabled them to store more hardware onsite.
“The amount of warehouse space at the new location is already making a huge positive impact on our production, storage and display options,” says Brad Bergamo, president and owner of Paramount Promotions. “We’re now able to sustain continued growth and demand, and most recently we were able to set up printed components inside our facility for our NCAA football bowl game customers to view. In fact, this year alone we had our new facility and loyal staff working around the clock to successfully and efficiently service the Arizona Bowl, Cactus Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl all within a two week period. ”
Paramount is planning to have a grand opening for its new location to thank all members of the community for their outpouring of support in their time of need.
Learning From the Past
“This whole process has been a rollercoaster,” Bergamo says, “But anytime you go through a traumatic experience and you survive it and come out thriving, you know you can get through practically anything. The fire definitely presented its challenges, but we are extremely thankful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from so many members of the community, and we recognize that we couldn’t be where we are today without them.”
Since the fire, Paramount Promotions has become even more efficient and has streamlined production. Employees who were subcontracted out after the fire came back to work with Paramount during the busy season. This demonstrates Bergamo’s loyalty to his employees; they were never out of work.
“We’re excited to work with loyal current and new customers at our new facility, and we’re in a really good place to expand business. Any tragedy is tough for a business to go through, and dealing with it can be a nightmare,” Bergamo says. “Core employees, loyal customers, and our excitement to grow are all contributing factors that helped us pull through.”
The bowl game season is one of Paramount’s busiest seasons. For 2016 they added the Rose Bowl and were the exclusive sign producer for the Arizona Bowl, while continuing to do business for the Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl. All projects for these games were completed at Paramount’s new location, just a few short months after the big move.
At the new facility, there is a lounge area where customers can look out the windows into the warehouse and production space to see their projects being printed and assembled. From a business standpoint, this has also allowed Paramount to manage the process to see what's working well and what's not. Since settling into the new digs, Paramount has added all new printing equipment including a new flatbed UV-curing printer, a d.gen textile printer, two large HP printers, multiple Mutoh ValueJet printers, as well as laminating and cutting equipment.
All of this new equipment, combined with Paramount’s additional facilities, allows the company to print more projects on multiple materials at even faster rates and at lower costs. Paramount continues to add new materials including fabrics such as jersey mesh material, which is very popular for the bowl games. Jersey mesh material is lightweight, extremely durable, and great for large-scale stadium graphics. With jersey material there is virtually no cracking, it's flexible and stretchable and scratch resistant, which is especially important in heavy wind.
The size of the new warehouse has allowed for more storage capacity and has opened up more opportunities for Paramount to expand its hardware line. This helps the company save customers money, while improving turnaround times.
Expansion Advice to the Sign Community
If you are thinking about expanding your business, take steps early. Don't wait until you are forced to make a change. Know that there is never a convenient time to expand a business or move to a new location. Here are some things you can do to make the transition less painful:
- Have a Good Expansion Plan—In Paramount’s case, the fire made the decision to move for them, but it was fortunate since the company had been talking about an expansion plan for months. Know that there are never enough of hours in a day, and when things are going well, you may not want to rock the boat.
Many companies could be doing better. It’s important to have transition strategy, even if you are not realistically thinking about it. Even if it's just a, “what if I gained multiple new large-scale customers,” would there be enough or room, production space and staff to fulfill requests? It doesn't have to be detailed.
- Take Help, When Needed—Bergamo followed up with people who offered to help, and kindly accepted their offers. He knew what he needed and knew he couldn’t do it on his own. It was because he had the transition plan in place that he was able to get overflow work completed so quickly. There is no way to prepare for everything, but thinking about possibilities in the future will help execute future strategies when needed.
- Vary your Revenue Streams—It’s important to have different customers and a number of product lines. Paramount now has contracts with various franchise companies such as Smoothie King and is producing a variety of projects, both large and small scale. Paramount has always had one designer on-site, but now with more office space, the plan for the near future is to have a team of graphic designers; this will enable faster turn-arounds on projects for customers.
“We are very lucky and extremely thankful for all the support we received in our time of need. We are looking forward to thanking everyone at our grand opening gathering,” Bergamo says. “Never stop thinking and planning ahead; you never know when it may come to fruition.”