In just two years, a combination of hard work and perseverance has helped Sean Wigand nurture StickerHub.com well beyond the specialty niche its name describes.
Ask Wigand the secret of his success, and he answers “prayer” without hesitation. “We start our day with a morning prayer and everything seems to work out,” he says.
What started as a side project in the proverbial garage is now a multi-faceted print resource for customers near and far, whether they find it online or walk into the company’s Irvine, California headquarters.
None of this was on his horizon when he invested in his first piece of digital equipment, a Roland SolJET Pro III XC-540 wide format inkjet printer/cutter. At the time, Wigand was a working partner in SoccerGarage.com, a Web-based retailer of apparel and gear.
“We were offering custom jerseys and going to other companies to print the thermal transfers,” he recalls. “I thought there was no way it could cost as much as we were paying to produce them, so I started looking for an entry-level machine [to] print them ourselves.”
In 2009, he set that Roland XC-540 up in his parents’ garage as a sideline business supplying his other company with those graphics.
Self-Educated Print Specialist
“Before I bought that machine, I decided I would learn all I could about printing,” says Wigand.
He read up on digital print technology and processes, taught himself how to use Photoshop® and Illustrator®, and recognized there was much, much more he could do with his printer.
“Two years ago, I told my partner he could take over running the soccer business,” remarks Wigand. “I was going to focus my time 100 percent on printing.”
As with his soccer business, StickerHub launched as an exclusively Web-based business that targeted a young demographic looking for any type of sticker (from tiny decals to wall murals). Wigand hired a programmer to build a Flash® app for the e-commerce site that enabled customers to design, order, and pay for their own stickers.
“In the beginning, it was just stickers,” he says. “The business started growing organically, and we were selling to people all across the country.”
Wigand strategically pushed StickerHub in new directions, taking what had been a Web-based business and putting a local face on it. After talking to people he knew in the area and networking with his friends and family, Wigand’s business really started growing.
What had been a warehouse/shipping/production center became the brick-and-mortar extension of an online business. Local customers may have initially approached him for stickers, but their experience made them prospective clients for other print products.
“Customer service is important to me. I want to do everything to make sure they are happy,” says Wigand. “Once they use us and really like us, we continue to get additional business.”
Wigand took advantage of every opportunity to talk up services. “We might do a small print job for a company, and then I’d talk to them and see if there were other print needs we could do for them,” he states. “We started doing larger graphics and mounting and laminating.”
In-shop fabricating equipment now includes a Royal Sovereign RSC-1400L cold roll laminator, a Gallery Stretcher 60 pneumatic canvas stretcher, a Lincoln Electric digital MIG welder, and a Fletcher 3100® Multi-Material cutter.
Stickers and Much More
Today the StickerHub name only hints at the scope of his operation, although the Web site still promotes a variety of products on adhesive-backed vinyl, and stickers ordered there are still the company’s bread and butter. “They pay our bills,” notes Wigand—but in a much bigger way than originally envisioned.
“The largest we offer online is only 120 inches wide-by-48 inches tall, however we’ve done wall decals over 50 feet wide,” he says. “We’ve also done wall murals over 40 feet wide-by-10 feet tall.”
There’s a lot of gravy in new services too. Client satisfaction has brought demand for producing P-O-P, banners, signage, and vehicle wraps. Some of his bigger projects include a banner measuring 120-by-10 feet, window graphics 35 feet wide-by-18 feet tall, and vehicle wraps that included a 45-foot tour bus and 15-foot trailer.
Demand for these other printed products eventually prompted Wigand to add VUTEk’s QS-3200 UV hybrid flatbed last year, and a Flora 4×8 UV flatbed printer from GraphixDirect this spring.
Wigand also relocated the business to its newest home, a 2,100-square-foot facility. There he and his staff (including two full-time sales persons, a graphic artist, and production team) are building his business into a full-service graphics supplier meeting the varied needs of local and national accounts.
For instance, the company prints all graphics (signage, window decals, store decals, etc.) for the growing Nekter Juice Bar chain, as well as producing P-O-P displays for brands like Red Bull, Edmunds, and Shimano. It has also started wholesaling some specialty print services.
In fact, Wigand is about to rebrand the company as Think Big Image with its own Web site (www.thinkbigimage.com), while maintaining StickerHub.com for those specialty services. His mission now is to help other businesses realize their potential by providing them with effective digital and print solutions as an extension of his own success.
“If you become a solutions provider, instead of just a printer, and genuinely care to see your clients succeed,” says Wigand, “you will not believe how fast your business will grow.”
To read Wigand’s advice for “Growing Your Online Presence,” visit www.signshop.com.
By Mike Antoniak