Firehouse Blog

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Firehouse Graphics are Blooming at IMA!

jimblog2Firehouse has been working with the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) since 2008. We print indoor & outdoor marketing and wayfinding signage, plus, for most new exhibits, Firehouse produces adhesive vinyl murals as part of the exhibit experience. A highlight was the 2013 Ai Weiwei exhibit which saw Firehouse outfitting both gallery entry portals with immersive wall and floor coverings. We also produced main gallery wall panels which interlocked to span over 60 feet.


IMA Senior Designer, Matt Kelm details the working relationship with Firehouse. “There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a vendor for large graphics, but Firehouse has proven they are a great partner, capable of producing a wide variety of materials at the level expected of a world-class museum. By working closely with our designers and installers, Firehouse has produced materials that look great and are easy to install.”

IMA03The latest IMA exhibition is titled Color me Orchid. The exhibition explores the beauty of orchids and highlights their history. Orchids are displayed in a Pop-Up shop in the main museum building and offered for sale at the museum Greenhouse. The IMA design team wanted graphics applied to the front windows and glass doors of the Pop-Up shop to create a stained-glass ambiance.

Matt continues, “Every detail is important when creating graphics at a IMA04museum, where visitors can often stand very close to a banner that is displayed next to important works of art. By meeting with the team at Firehouse to discuss a complex job beforehand, we can be sure we’re creating, setting up, and delivering files that assure us of a successful outcome.”

We recommended our optically-clear adhesive vinyl with subtle layers of white ink to maintain a translucent appearance while IMA05providing pop to the colors. In addition, we printed adhesive vinyl wall murals for walls and pillars in the shop. Firehouse also printed identifying signage on PVC throughout the Greenhouse as well as exhibit outdoor banners on 13oz. vinyl.

Matt concludes. “Because the team at Firehouse lives and breathes the world of signage and graphics, they bring new technologies and ideas into the conversation that we had never considered. By maintaining a dialog with the experts at Firehouse, we can set our imaginations loose at the beginning of a project knowing that they will work with us closely to figure out the best way to bring those ideas to life.”

Jim Corman
Global Accounts Executive


The Future of the Printing Industry – Part 1

terryblogFuturePart01It’s pretty brazen for a small player like me to take a stab at predicting the future of printing—especially since I have always said that predicting the future of this industry is nearly impossible. That said, my 26 years in the printing business is a unique set of experiences. I was a long-time board member and past president of the Association of Professional Color Imagers (APCI). It was an international trade organization of photo labs, and I was president during the last convention prior to it downsizing and being absorbed into another trade group. I bore witness to the demise of Eastman Kodak, a trade association, and many, many businesses both in, and tied to, the photo lab business. Perhaps the most important take-away from the experience is that the 1999 annual convention was a heavily attended, lavish event held on the island of Maui. It was a grand time! Everyone was buoyant and prosperous. By way of contrast, the APCI convention in 2003 was poorly attended, in a Chicago hotel to spare expenses, and no one held out much hope for the future of the industry. In only FOUR YEARS a very large and prosperous industry died.Yes, Firehouse made the change from photo lab to successful digital printer during those difficult years, but that transformation was not easy or obvious.

DigitalCrushingFilmThe root cause of the demise of the photo lab industry was the loss of film and film processing. Certainly, that was the major factor for most labs that closed their doors. But, the paramount reason they went out of business was their inability to see industry changes and change with them. Film processing went away, but photo output did not. It changed from a custom, artistic, hand-made product into a commodity. As such, the pricing for commercial photo output plummeted nearly 2,000 percent from the top in 1995. If you could survive the price drop, you could survive. If you could optimize your workflow and automate the process, you could still make a profit. But many never thought about how to change their business to survive—and they didn’t.

Now I sit on the board of directors of another industry trade association, and I see history starting to repeat itself. No, the remaining printing industry is not going to lose an enormous revenue stream as we saw with digital cameras at the turn of the century. But, I can see the gathering storm. What we did to survive those tough times, we will have to do again. We have more time during this industry shift, but not forever.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series.

Terry Corman
Firehouse CEO

The Same Firehouse… JUST BIGGER!

JonPicOldFirehouseFirehouse began its life in a 19th century fire station in 1971. Here’s a photo of the station circa 1910. Firehouse was a consumer and commercial photo lab. We spent our time with film processors and photo enlargers. When we moved out of that location in 2003, we had evolved into a digital printer for regional, retail clients. We had outgrown our fire station and moved to our current building at the near north side of Indianapolis. What we initially thought was an excess of space was soon filled. We expanded our services nationally, and then globally. We then added offsite warehousing for materials and equipment parts. To accommodate our growing business, and to speed our production lines, we decided to expand our facility this year. We have effectively doubled our production space and now can warehouse our materials on-site. This also allows space for new equipment and fulfillment areas in 2016.

We broke ground on this expansion back in June and it was completed in November. We’ve compressed that 5-month construction project down to a 90-second video.

If you prefer to watch time go by a bit slower, you can flip through the photo gallery below.

Jon Heilman
Marketing Director