What’s your role at Gerber Technology? How did you get involved in the sign & graphics industry?
I began my career at Gerber Technology as the Global Sales Manager for Imaging Products over 23 years ago. At that time, we were selling an earlier generation of our hugely successful Gerber Edge thermal transfer printer. I’ve stayed at Gerber because of our dedication to innovation and the commitment we make to our customers.
What’s your favorite part about working in the sign & graphics industry?
I love to see the creativity of our customers. Many of our customers work with a few different technologies and it’s amazing to see how it all comes together to produce an eye-catching final product.
One of my favorite customer creations is from when Mr. Gerber received the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton, commemorating a lifetime of technological achievement. One of our customers printed and cut pressure sensitive vinyl and routed rigid clear letters to produce a conference table recognizing Mr. Gerber and the National Medal of Technology award. The result was phenomenal, and the conference table is still used at our Tolland headquarters.
The sign and graphics industry has changed drastically over the last several years. Can you talk a little about the shifts in the industry? What changes were you most excited to see?
The biggest change we've seen over the last several years is the evolution of technology, with digital printing and integrated finishing solutions becoming a necessity in many shops. Today’s sign and graphics producers need to be versatile and handle a variety of jobs, which means they need a flexible and agile supply chain. They need to be able to cut various fabrics and materials with absolute speed and precision, which is where technology saves the day. By leveraging the latest technology, sign and graphics professionals will be able to not only handle the diversity of their work but also keep up with the growing demand as they expand their business.
For many years, Gerber has served the sign and graphics industry with narrow format transfer printing technology, specifically the Gerber Edge, a Gerber knife cutting plotter and Gerber software. The Gerber Edge has gone through several generations but still remains a workhorse for many sign and graphics companies. To adapt to the needs of our narrow format customers, Gerber continues to provide new colors and new materials for the Gerber Edge that enable our customers to reach into new markets and customers with new products and capabilities.
On the wide format side of the sign and graphics market, printing technology is getting faster and more precise to the point that what was done only by offset printing can now be done using digital printing technology. Gerber is keeping pace with printing technology by heavily investing in our digital cutting solutions, namely the Gerber MCT Cutter, which provides the versatility customers need to cut a variety of materials.
How has COVID-19 affected the sign and graphics industry? Is there opportunity for growth during this time?
COVID-19 has certainly had a negative impact on industry conferences and trade shows, which many sign and graphics companies rely on. Despite these challenges, many sign and graphics companies were able to pivot to producing personal protective equipment (PPE). We’ve not only seen our customers shift to PPE but many also saw an increase in their cutting capacity and actually wanted to add more software and digital cutting to their supply chain. One customer told me prior to March 16th, they had never produced a face shield. That same customer ended up winning a state hospital grant and are now producing 20,000 face shields per day. They have already passed the 1,000,000 face shield mark.
With help from our PPE Task Force, many of our customers were able to quickly adapt their production. We were able to provide manufacturers with Omega PLT files for Medical and Emergency labels and decals, CutWorks, DXF, and AccuMark production-ready files and production videos for face masks, gowns, coveralls, face shields, as well as information for industry and government resources. We even helped customers connect with industry material suppliers.
As a member of the PPE Task Force triage team, a comment I often heard, even from people who had competitive equipment, was “thank you for all of the services you are providing.” It makes me so proud to see our customers utilizing technology to help others. I’m glad I’ve been able to be a part of the journey.
What role does technology play in helping sign and graphics companies prepare for the new normal and the changing trends?
Technology has allowed our customers to adapt to the new normal in a few different ways. First, by leveraging technology, companies are able to provide products that meet the needed safety requirements. Instead of complete isolation, sign and graphics providers began to produce “sneeze guards” that provided a barrier for retail cashiers and other essential workers. By utilizing technology, manufacturers were able to easily ensure all safety regulations were met and develop a high-quality product that was both effective and comfortable.
Secondly, technology allows sign and graphics companies to communicate a more appealing message. Think about the beginning of the pandemic. Essential businesses were using pieces of masking tape to mark arrows on the floor. Now, businesses have shifted to using printed social distance markers, decals and directional signage which is not only more durable, but communicates a clear message. In addition, many restaurants and hospitals are putting up personal barriers for social distancing. With technology, sign and graphics providers are able to quickly put customized messages, themes, or even games, on social distancing barriers to enhance the customer experience.
What sets Gerber apart from other companies providing solutions for the sign and graphics industry?
Gerber provides a complete end-to-end solution for our customers. Our customers are able to seamlessly move from design to print to cut quickly and efficiently. Our design software works seamlessly with our printing and cutting solutions. Whether our customers use the EDGE or the Gerber MCT Cutter, they’re able to share data seamlessly throughout the supply chain.
Our industry-leading technology offers the versatility, speed and efficiency sign and graphics providers need to, not only develop amazing products, but also to grow and expand their business. With equipment like the Gerber MCT Cutter, which features knife cutting, routing, and laser cutting, our customers are able to take on a variety of jobs and work with numerous materials.
Lastly, we offer some of the greatest service and support options in the industry. Our Gerber Certified professionals work hard to support our customers and help optimize their solutions. We’ve also invested heavily in our remote support and diagnostic solutions to ensure that our customers are well taken care of. *
What makes you proud to be part of the Gerber Team?
I’m proud to be part of the Gerber team because we provide products that touch people’s everyday lives, not only in sign and graphics but in other industries as well.
For example, you get dressed and drive to the store. Chances are that your clothing and the seats of your car were probably cut on a GERBERcutter.
Along your route to the store, you notice a van from a plumbing company or a first response vehicle with impressive graphics and lettering. It’s likely that those graphics were produced on a Gerber Edge and enVision plotter.
When you arrive at the store, you notice featured products at the end of aisles on perfectly sized corrugated Point of Purchase (POP) displays. These POP displays were probably cut and creased on the Gerber MCT Cutter.
When you head back home, you start to notice more and more advertising flags and banners. Many of these fabric displays are laser cut using the Gerber MCT Cutter.
When you get back home, you notice a delivery van driving away from your house and a package on your porch. Did the GERBER EDGE print the letters on the delivery van? Did the Gerber MCT Cutter produce the package your items were delivered in?
It’s really amazing to see how many products are made possible by our Gerber solutions.