About The Author
Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris has been integral to Phase 3 since its inception and now is the Executive Vice President overseeing the company's sales.

Staying on the Forefront of Innovation in Wide-Format Printing

By Jenny Harris
February 23, 2023



Recently, the Wide Format Impressions’ 2022 Innovators Issue was released, highlighting several wide-format printers that they considered to be innovators. They believe these companies are stretching the bounds of what "innovation" means in the sector. Phase 3 is honored to be considered one of these innovators because we are committed to constantly searching for new ways to grow our business and face market challenges head-on.


The Industry

According to reportlinker.com, the large format printer market is projected to reach $11.4 billion by 2026, up from $8.8 billion in 2021. This growth is driven mainly by significant marketing investments made by larger companies as well as the high demand for large-scale prints.


Wide-format signs and graphics are traditionally used as advertising and marketing tools. However, use cases have expanded to include vehicle wrapping, environmental and interior graphics, home furnishings and decor, and textiles. As a result, experts predict a promising future for the wide format printer market.


Today, wide format printers like Phase 3 can create thousands of different items for thousands of different use cases. That is innovation in and of itself.


The Future

In a recent article, author Sabine Slaughter, a well-known international editor, consultant, and journalist who has monitored innovations in the industry for decades, predicts that wide format printing is destined to grow and expand to even more applications.


In the article, she says, "The wide and super-wide format market has undergone its digital transition while certain analog printing technologies, such as screen-printing, continue to complement the overall mix offered by large-format print service providers (PSPs) to their clients…..the wide format printing market is mature, but it has certainly not yet reached its heyday. The digital transition means that more and more applications will become digital, leading to highly specialized wide and super-wide printers. Such printers can deal with traditional applications, but more interestingly, they enable innovative PSPs to showcase their ability to cater for new and unexpected market-niche jobs."


The Innovators

Our fellow innovators were three wide format printers that are thinking outside the box to solve some of the industry's challenges and increase their bottom line.


H&H Group in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is focusing its product mix on custom-made ADA signage. H&H is helping businesses transform their locations to be both compliant and beautiful. "Seeing how something as unnoticeable as an ADA sign taken to the level of an interior design-type work and turning a very boring thing into an intricate sign in a building where it stands out as a focal point is huge," Nate Heisey, COO and partner of H&H Group, said.


For Pictura, a Minneapolis-based wide format printer, their innovation centered around the company's structure. CEO Paul Lilienthal had been wrestling with the decision to sell the company. Instead, he decided to sell a percentage of the company to his employees through a partial Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Now, the employees own 30%, and Lilienthal owns 70%. "We are a much stronger and well-poised company for the future," Lilienthal said.


The last innovator is Strategic Factory in Owings Mills, Maryland. There, being an innovator means having a "can do" attitude. Leaders emphasize staff knowing what jobs to enthusiastically take, transparent communication up and down the organizational chart, and being open to change. They believe that being an innovator combines sound business decisions based on communication, relationships, and, ultimately, a great attitude.


Innovation at Phase 3

Phase 3 was recognized for our work in developing a custom-wide format printing system that increases efficiency and improves equipment utilization without losing employee/customer interaction. We worked with OneVision to implement workflow automation solutions that respond to our clients' growing need for quicker turnarounds and customization. 


"We wanted the flexibility to build something unique to our business because we're definitely unique." Troy McGinnis, the executive VP of print services, said in the article. "Everything we do is custom. So, we needed a company that would be flexible and help us build to our needs. OneVision was in the running, and…they convinced us that they could help us build that system.


When asked to elaborate, he said, “The Phase 3 process is very hands-on. We want to be a part of the decision-making process for any project as early as possible. We can help you ideate and plan the best marketing strategies based on your business goals. We’ll collaborate on the perfect branded marketing materials and messaging. We can source really cool substrates for print projects. And, we’ll print, ship, and install everything.


The challenge with this consultative process is that bringing on new technology to speed up and automate moving orders through the system can take away the one-to-one personal touch we pride ourselves on. We are working really hard to do both. In the first quarter of 2023, we are adding a new operating system that will speed up the actual prepress and printing process but not hold up or replace the ideation and consulting pieces of the process.”

Phase 3 built and refined this new ERP system from scratch integrating OneVision’s Wide Format Automation Suite. Every detail of a campaign is captured in this new platform, including branding, PR, design, printing, logistics, shipping and more. Each piece is customizable by customer and project. This integration will tie every campaign datapoint together, which will help our team provide services quicker and more accurately. It will also offer customers campaign information and tools they didn’t even know they needed or wanted.


McGinnis added, “This new technology is already changing the way Phase 3 services customers for the better. A job that used to take us eight hours to process from beginning to end now takes 15 minutes. We are well on our way to completely automating the wide format print process from order to outcome.”


That doesn't mean we've lost our human component. McGinnis said in the article, "Technology doesn't replace experience or people. The only reason we're successful is because of all the great people we have. We are just giving them more tools so they can work better and more efficiently.


Across a wide range of print segments, our ERP system enables Phase 3 to pass along cost savings, increased print and processing quality, reduced production times, and more flexible and dynamic processes to our clients. We are proud to be considered innovators just for making our clients happy.


For more information about our wide-format printing services and our new ERP technology, please contact us today.