Sign & Digital Graphics

September '14

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Page 116 of 142

Stumbling into Success Finding a niche with printed graphics and trailer awnings Sco Franko is the president of Franko Design Concepts and Consulting, US Signcraers, e Sign Store and Building Impressions. Send emails to sco@ S ome success is stumbled into. But you've got to be moving in order to stumble. Larsens Inc., a Santa Cruz Calif.-based company, successfully stumbled into the niche for their printed awnings, canopies and ban- ners by "building impressions" on the sides of trailers used by clients at outdoor venues and events all over the country. The family-owned business, owned by Kurt and Sue Larsen, is today a leading manufacturer of printed solutions that are displayed for branding. Once known primarily as a maker of sails for racing boats, the Larsens eventually turned their attention and experience toward trailers when they stumbled into an opportunity that would result in a new suc- cessful line and division for the company. Now they serve an expansive range of customers and industries that includes boating and racing as well as household names like General Electric, Rubbermaid and Harley Davidson that are using mobile trailers with attached awnings and canopies with printed graphics. How the company went from sails to canopies and from boats to trailers is a great little business story in itself. In brief, Larsens began by repairing then building sails for boats along Monterey Bay. As their reputation and expertise grew, so did their customer base, which positioned them well with sailboat racers across the country. As off-market sail makers began to take their share of the business, the question became "what to do with this wealth of knowledge and talent," according to Sue Larsen. The answer literally walked in the door when a customer asked them to repair a mobile canopy. That's when the light bulb went off and the ideas began to flow. They could see firsthand how they could apply their resources to engineer and improve mobile cano- pies in significant ways. Kurt and Sue Larsen started the company in 1972. They base their stream of successful years in busi- ness on how well they have provided and adapted their innovation and innovative processes to their customers' needs. Through advanced technological capabilities and services, they developed many canopy display products including those that turn trailers into settings for branding, promotion, interaction and gatherings. At first, Larsens Inc. worked at developing a line of fire-retardant fabrics and processes to print graphics B y S c o t t F r a n k o Building Impressions ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL 104 • September 2014 • S I G n & D I G I t a L G r a P H I c S

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