Zach Jones, owner of Z7GFX in Hazel, Alabama, has always taught himself what he needed to know to run his business, mainly, he says, because “I didn’t have the money to pay anyone else to do it.”
A long-time fan of the art of graphic design, Jones learned Adobe® Photoshop® and InDesign® so he could run an online business while in college. After graduation, he freelanced as a racing engine builder and then followed that up by working as an iron door manufacturer.
One day, his boss asked him to wrap a work trailer. “I’d never done a wrap before,” he said. “That’s when I discovered I really enjoy wrapping.”
Soon after that, Jones purchased a Roland DG SOLJET 64-inch printer/cutter and, in 2016, started Z7GFX in his parents’ garage. “I’ve always been into drag racing and my family has roots there, so those connections really paid off when I opened my wrap business,” he says. “In addition to racing teams, I do work for racing industry manufacturers. I do lots of jobs for several big names in [that side of the] industry.
With help from his family, Jones ending up building his current 4,000-square-foot shop, featuring a climate-controlled installation area, on some family-owned land. “I like owning a graphics shop because there’s always a lot to do,” he says.
In 2020, Z7GFX grew to the point where they needed to add a second printer, so Jones purchased a Roland DG TrueVIS VF2-640 64-inch large-format printer and a Roland DG GR-640 64-inch cutter. “The nice thing about having two printers is that you can get projects knocked out really quickly,” he says. “The VF2 has the new Orange and Green inks, and the print quality is outstanding. It’s really wild how bright the inks can be, and how fast they dry.”
The Z7GFX shop is located in the Huntsville, Alabama metro area, which means they get lots of clients from the city and its neighboring towns. “We wrap fleets for some local universities,” says Jones. “We also do food trucks, utility trucks, delivery trucks, catering vans, transit busses, and just about anything else on wheels. We’ve done work for the fire and police departments in the area.”
Jones also provides a lot of custom wraps and color changes for clients who are looking to personalize their ride. “We saw a significant increase in auto restyling requests during 2020,” he says. “Currently we offer more than 400 color options, as well as unlimited ways to customize one’s car or truck.”
Huntsville also happens to be a big military town, so Z7GFX also does work with charities for the families of military service members or first responders. “We also help out if a local church or charity needs graphics,” says Jones.
In addition to vehicle wraps, Z7GFX also offers custom decals, along with printed banners and posters. “We don’t do signage in the industry sense of the word,” he says, “but we will help out clients who need four-by-eight-foot signs printed.”
Jones says that he is pretty decent at scheduling but did find that a recent wrap job “snuck up” on him. “I had to leave early for a race and the customer wanted to pick up their wrapped vehicle later that afternoon,” he says. “Luckily it was a franchise wrap, so they sent the artwork over. I ran it on the VF2 using Roland’s TR2 inks and was able to laminate and install the graphics the same day.”
Z7GFX also offers print-and-ship graphics for their clients who are out of state and even overseas. “We send out tons of drag racing team graphics kits, sponsor decal kits, and name and number sets,” says Jones. “We’ve recently launched our new website where customers can upload files and we ship them their graphics.”
To attract new clients, Jones does a lot of outreach by posting their work on Facebook and Instagram. “That really amplifies our word-of-mouth referrals and brings in a lot of clients,” he says. “We’ve also focused on requesting additional Google reviews because we’ve noticed that the more five-star reviews we have then the more traffic we get.”
Jones believes that his shop is on a good trajectory, aided with quality production equipment needed to continue to grow his business. He has one employee now and hires others when needed. “I’m actually looking for additional help right now for both production and installations,” he says.
Currently Jones is excited to be opening an online store. “We’re also working on streamlining our ordering process overall,” he says. “It’s amazing how quickly you can knock out a thousand decals, so we want to make it easy for our clients to order them.”