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At Jakprints, business keeps growing (along with about 200,000 trees)

By Lauren Sable Freiman  |  Photo by McKinley Wiley

Without a traditional sales force in place, Jakprints has steadily grown its business in a different way, one that puts them to work doing what they do best. Each year the custom products printing company partners on more than 100 events across the country, including at least 50 events locally.

“A lot of people perceive us as a dot com printer that acquires people through SEO,” Jakprints CEO Nick DeTomaso says. “But it is always through event partnerships and strategic partnerships. It has been our customer acquisition tool from day one.”

As a partner on corporate or charitable events, Jakprints is able to showcase its range of products and services — providing t-shirts, VIP badges, lanyards, brochures, catalogs, event maps, and other promotional pieces that are so integral to any event.

Dameon Guess, Jakprints’ co-founder, is the man who devotes his days to helping events in this region and around the country achieve success.

“Dameon ends up being so much more than a logo and a print partner. He really injects himself and he brings a tremendous amount of value to the conversation about promoting the event,” DeTomaso says. “He knows signage, flow, how the event should be organized, and he sees best practices.”

With 250 employees in Cleveland, Jakprints has experienced a steady trajectory of growth since its founding in 1999, consistently doubling its business every couple years. In a move that links them even more closely to events around the region, Jakprints recently became the official printer of the IX Center. Jakprints will now deliver printed materials and other marketing collateral like banners directly to the IX Center, saving out of town guests the hassle of shipping printed materials and saving time for local exhibitors.

“Often the success of a trade show, conference or fundraiser can be directly attributed to the follow-through of vendors you’ve hired to handle certain functions,” Guess says. “If one individual drops the ball, it can start a unfortunate domino effect, costing your event coordinator valuable time, resources, and money.”

Jakprints’ involvement in the events industry traces back to when Guess and co-founder Jacob Edwards first needed to print flyers, t-shirts, stickers and postcards to market their bands. When they had trouble finding a printer willing to produce high-quality products on short notice, they decided to fill the need themselves.

“I was running a record label and was buying products from them, like CD inserts, posters and t-shirts,” DeTomaso says. “Especially for servicing the music world, there wasn’t anyone doing that. I saw value in it.”

For DeTomaso, Guess and Edwards, supporting musicians meant supporting entrepreneurs. “It is often overlooked that a band is a business,” DeTomaso says. “That is always what Jakprints has been about, bringing little businesses the ability to get high-quality printing. For us it was always about empowerment.”

When the Jakprints team first started selling business cards, they would find 20 customers and build a puzzle of a press run – referred to as gang printing – and take it to a large commercial printer. For less than $50, customers could have business cards that would have cost as much as $300 elsewhere.

“We take pride in giving a quality product to those who wouldn’t be able to get it on their own,” DeTomaso says. “We are proud that we can be involved in that journey for so many people who are achieving the American dream. We put so much more into printing.”

And as they support entrepreneurs and events across the country, DeTomaso says that Jakprints is especially proud that they do so while maintaining an ecological and environmental conscience. Since Jan. 1, 2012, the company has planted a tree through Trees for the Future with every single order. Recently, Jakprints planted its 200,000th tree.

“Even though we don’t buy paper from China and third world countries where there is still a lot of irresponsible forestry going on, this allows us to counteract what other people are doing,” DeTomaso says.

Despite its dramatic growth over the years, and the fact that its website has a self-service tool, DeTomaso says human interactions are still the preferred method of contact with clients. A “touch and feel showcase” in Jakprints’ Midtown lobby lets customers touch shirts and paper samples. Event and sponsorship coordinators and account managers get involved with clients from the beginning, helping them envision their event and achieve the desired outcome. An intricate system of checks and balances gives Jakprints a “leg up” from other printers, especially online printers, DeTomaso says. “We have a self-service tool, but the last thing we want to do it push people to it,” he says. “We never stopped answering the phone. How much easier is it if a human being can work with you and get you what you need?”

For more information: jakprints.com

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