It’s certainly an enviable position for any sign company – your home team has made it to the finals, and the league wants you to create all the signage for a run to victory, practically overnight. But the news comes at exactly the same time two other high-profile clients need your help, not to mention all of your regular customers, just as summer is setting in.
For Nashville’s Brand Imaging Group, 2017 was certainly one for the record books, as the local Nashville Predators hockey team progressed to the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals. The 23-year-old sign and print company, the team’s official print partner, was called into duty to deck out Bridgestone Arena for the big games with items including 40-by-40-foot vinyl banners, plus elevator wraps and tabletop graphics.
Scott Snoyer, Brand Imaging Group’s owner and founder, and creative director Ryan Payne, were of course delighted to help the local heroes as they fought it out (unsuccessfully, unfortunately) with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But that very late-season extension of the Predators’ season and some 91 signs with a one-week turnaround also coincided with major commitments to Nashville’s yearly Country Music Association Festival – requiring more than 800 stage coverings, car magnets, street banners, table tents and bike rack covers – plus a new, secret project they were also developing with the National Football League.
“The Preds had never made it past the second round of playoffs, so we got a whole extra month of hockey, and we’re very proud of our role with our sports teams,” Snoyer says. “And at the same time, we were very busy with all of our current retail and real estate clients. But we don’t get to tell all the regular folks to give us a break for two weeks because we’re suddenly so busy.”
Instead, Brand Imaging Group’s team stepped up to the plate (or the blue line, in this case) and managed to churn out the materials for all of their varied clients, on time.
“All of our preparation allowed us to do these other major jobs without missing a beat or feeling stress,” Snoyer says. “We’re ready for an extra couple of curve balls, now and then.”
Technology, capacity and a dedicated team are some of the factors that have helped make Brand Imaging Group the go-to print and sign company in Music City, with a 40,000-square-foot facility in the southeast Nashville suburb of Antioch.
In addition to the high-profile signage projects, the company is known for its environmental design, its ADA packages and work decking out entire lobbies or businesses. They were also responsible for all the public signage when Nissan purchased the naming rights to the local Tennessee Titans’ stadium, including the massive marquee signs outside.
“It’s not uncommon for us to do projects for CMA or the Bonnaroo festival in the same week, because everybody wants a piece of the action, and they call on us to execute,” Payne adds. “Our capacity is also in our staff – I’ve got seven full-time people in our design department.”
Snoyer says he’s made a conscious effort to cross-train much of his 55-person team, many of whom have been with the company for much of those two-plus decades. That’s allowed the flexibility to tackle massive jobs while still addressing recurring trade show and facilities projects for locally-headquartered customers such as Ingram Books and Asurion, an international insurer of high-tech products. Then there’s the weekly jobs for longtime clients such as Cracker Barrel and Servpro, among some 6,000 other businesses Brand Imaging Group has helped over the years.
“We let our employees know that it’s no secret that this is how the business works, with ebbs and flows, and that in June and September, there’s going to be some long hours,” Snoyer says. “But we also like to do a big post-mortem after every major project, like CMA, and see what we can do to better prepare, physically, mentally and environmentally. We’ve got a staff that’s stable and consistent, and they know what’s expected of them. Consistency is a big deal.”
Snoyer says he feels like a bit of a newcomer to the business, having been a professional tennis instructor at the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas before opting to try a new direction. He’d dabbled in event planning and sign making with an HP XL300 inkjet printer while off the court, and realized there might be a better future in the signage world.
“We decided to move to Nashville in 1994, as my wife and I liked the town,” Snoyer says. “I started this business from scratch, and we really hit our stride around 1999 or 2000, first doing MCAD wide-format printing, and later in the electrostatic print market. We were one of two Scotchprint-certified companies in town.”
Stretching into the then-difficult world of full-color printing, Snoyer picked up his first Arizona flatbed printer, as did his competitors. Thinking strategically, Snoyer decided to buy out the competition in 2010 and amalgamate much of their equipment and staff.
“They did a lot of work in awnings, and I did a lot of ADA stuff, but both of us were big digital printers with identical presses, so I ended up keeping theirs,” he says. “There’s nobody in town who’s quite as diverse as us now – some just do digital and some just architectural stuff, but we have two highly functional divisions under one roof.”
A tour of Brand Imaging Group’s sprawling facility demonstrates some of that technological range, including a Matan Quantum 16-foot roll-to-roll UV printer, two HP Latex 3600 printers, plus a Fuji Acuity and a Novus Synergia UV setup. They’ve also got an HP PageWide XL 8000 for large-format jobs, as well as an Epson SureColor eco-solvent printer for fine art projects.
High-volume textile print work can be handled by their Printer Evolution Eos 126 and other dye-sublimation gear. Finishing work is handled with an RF welder, an 8x10 Zund cutter and three laminators. There is also a small-format production arm.
And then, Snoyer says, there’s the entire other side of the shop, with two MultiCam 2000 routers, a rotary laser, vinyl plotters, a photopolymer machine and even a sandblasting booth (“Yes, we still do that in-house,” he adds, “Along with all the metal and woodwork, and we still do hand-painting, if a customer wants it.”) In high-demand periods, all of the equipment will be running at the same time, making for a very busy place.
Visitors to Brand Imaging Group’s headquarters may have noticed the swimming pool outside – Snoyer bought the building in March 2012 from a pool-supply company and decided to keep it when he moved in. That’s just part of the positive and family-friendly atmosphere that Snoyer and his wife Debbie have managed to maintain, even as the company has grown exponentially.
“We follow the philosophy that you should have fun at work and care about other employees, so we still have cookouts and pool parties,” he says. “My wife sort of acts as cruise director, with a sympathetic ear, but I’m still the one you come to if you want a loan. It’s been difficult as we get bigger to still know absolutely everyone and what they’re doing, but culture is still really important to us.”