A Big Impression - Baton Rouge Business Report

http://www.businessreport.com/article/20130722/BUSINESSREPORT0401/307229992

Vivid Ink Graphics has products everywhere.

They're on lemonade cups, napkin dispensers and posters at Raising Cane's. The company's signs point the way to concessions at Bayou Country Superfest. Those behind-the-counter wall menus at Izzo's and Community Coffee—those are by Vivid Ink. Blockbuster movies like Oblivion and Battleship used Vivid Ink to help with prop production.

Then there was the Super Bowl back in February. Vivid Ink's work never made it inside the Mercedes-Benz ?Superdome—but that doesn't mean people didn't see it.

The Baton Rouge-based graphic design and printing company wrapped the Superdome's parking garage for the NFL commissioner's annual Super Bowl party.

“You could not tell it was a parking garage,” says Vivid Ink Graphics co-founder and President Stephen St. Cyr, noting that the party featured carpeted floors and a different band on every floor. “It looked like a New Orleans-style warehouse.”

All told, the company produced about $200,000 worth of work for Super Bowl XLVII, including projects at the Bud Light Hotel, better known as the Wyndham Riverfront New Orleans Hotel the other 51 weeks of the year.

“We do work for the Sugar Bowl every year,” St. Cyr says, “but the Super Bowl is 10 times bigger.”

Although Vivid Ink is still based in Baton Rouge, it recently expanded its New Orleans division with hopes that it can take a bigger share of the city's massive event market. The 13-year-old company bought a 30,000-square-foot warehouse for $1.3 million that's within walking distance of the Superdome on Poydras Street.

St. Cyr estimates that Vivid Ink holds about 20% of the market for graphic design and printing in New Orleans, versus 75% in the Capital City.

“We pretty much dominate the market here in Baton Rouge,” he says. “In New Orleans, we don't.”

That impressive Baton Rouge market presence convinced Vivid Ink to reallocate space at its nearly 15,000-square-foot headquarters. The company will split into two divisions, one of which is the newly formed Vivid Ink Printing. It's scheduled to move into a nearby building on June 17, the same day a brand-new, gigantic, $350,000 printer arrives.

According to St. Cyr, Vivid Ink pulled in more than $6 million in revenue in 2012. This year, the company is scheduled to approach $7 million in total sales.

“Our goal is always to maintain a 20% profit,” says St. Cyr, adding that it's a benchmark the company generally meets. “We've grown every year except 2007.”

St. Cyr founded Vivid Ink in 1999 with co-owner Collin Keller, who now serves as the company's production manager.

In those early days, the two Louisiana natives did everything, from design to printing to shipping. Now the company employs more than 50 people between its Baton Rouge and New Orleans locations, something that has forced the owners' roles to continually evolve.

“Every time you double, you need a new structure,” St. Cyr says. Given that their company is approaching its fifth doubling, the duo has encountered change quite frequently.

Keller, while still heavily involved in the company's printing sector, is not nearly as hands-on as he used to be.

“I would load the printers, make sure ink was available and make sure the job was actually printing,” Keller says. “Now I'm more of a manager.”

He loves the ever-progressing nature of the business, though.

“No job is the same. Everything we do has its own unique difference,” he says. “It's never a dull moment.”

While the excitement of new projects with clients such as movie makers and casinos certainly keeps Vivid Ink on its toes, it's the consistent, daily work done for familiar clients like Raising Cane's, Community Coffee and Capitol One that remains the company's bread and butter, financially speaking.

Yet the entrepreneurs are always in search of new business opportunities.

St. Cyr says he used to travel the Capital City, pointing at various signage and saying, “I made that, I made that, and I made that,” which always annoyed his kids.

“Now,” he jokes, “I'll drive down the street and say, 'Why didn't we make that?'"

By Ben Wallace
Published Jul 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Updated Jul 22, 2013)

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