Firehouse Blog

We are a Proven Graphic Communication Company Executing Innovative Print Initiatives for Valued Brands.

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When is a Bargain NOT a Bargain?


You generally get what you pay for. But, when you want inexpensive, rigid graphics, are they really a bargain? The answer is, “it depends.”

Firehouse’s least expensive rigid material is foamcore. It’s very popular because it’s lightweight and works great for many applications. So, when the job calls for rigid graphics on a budget, foamcore is usually the winner. That’s fine, but there is more to consider. The characteristics that make foamcore an attractive material also make it difficult to ship. Simply put, foamcore is easily damaged in shipping. It flexes, creases and dings. To help foamcore survive the trip to its final destination, we have to really beef up the packaging. We sandwich foamcore sheets inside 6 layers of corrugated cardboard to add rigidity. And, because corners are so easy to ding if the package is dropped, the box and corrugated sheets are several inches larger overall than the foamcore they protect. We often use what we call tube boxes that have a corrugated cushion on each side. All of that leads to a larger, heavier box with more filler.

Foamcore IS an inexpensive material, but consider this example. The packaging for a foamcore sign is roughly 6 times the cost of the sign itself. Unfortunately, corrugated cardboard isn’t free. We have to pass those costs on to our clients.

That doesn’t sound like a bargain any more. The alternative?


An upgrade in your print material can allow us to downgrade the packaging. Switching to gatorboard or PVC sheets gives your graphics a much higher survival rate in shipping, and because they are more rigid and durable, all that extra cardboard isn’t needed. Another factor to consider is where the graphic is to be displayed. If it will be exposed to heat or direct sunlight, foamcore may have difficulty in that environment. Gatorboard and PVC are more stable choices there too.

So, the next time a project calls for foamcore, contact us and we can discuss material cost vs. packaging cost. Then you’ll really know you’re getting what you paid for.

Paul Meek
Vice President of Operations

The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association

terryblogThe Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) is an international trade association for the large-format graphics industry. Founded in 1948, SGIA has grown and evolved with the print industry. Its membership includes screen printers, wide format digital printers, photographers, offset printers, printed electronics providers, garment printers and more. Headquartered in Washington DC, SGIA is a vital partner for anyone in the printing industry. The SGIA website contains a wealth of resources to members including a vast archive of industry articles and webinars on everything from print technology to marketing your business.

Firehouse has been an SGIA member since 2005 and I have been serving on the board of directors since 2011. Our VP of Operations, Paul Meek, serves on the Graphics Production Committee, and he is the incoming chairperson for the Safety, Health and Personnel Committee for 2016. Committees meet annually and collaborate throughout the year to assist and support SGIA members.

SGIAmainThe annual trade show (SGIA Expo) has over 25,000 attendees, over 500 exhibitors and nearly 250,000 square feet of exhibit space. The 2015 show is coming to Atlanta on November 4.

It’s safe to say that SGIA has had a major impact on the evolution of Firehouse. There’s nothing like collaborating with your colleagues around the world who are all dealing with the same challenges.

I’ve also become heavily involved in a sub-group of SGIA named SPIRE. SPIRE is a network of CEOs and top executives, representing the industry’s leading producers of retail, point-of-purchase, OEM, transit, outdoor and similar graphic solutions. As the Chairman of SPIRE, I set the annual meeting agenda around topics of particular interest to the group. Our 2015 meeting was the Automation Summit.

Check out the SGIA website and consider becoming a member. Among the many benefits are free OSHA and environmental consulting, equipment reviews and industry statistics. I hope to see you in Atlanta or at our SPIRE meeting in 2016.

Terry Corman
Firehouse CEO

What’s a Firehouse Boomerang?

JonPicIt’s long been true during Firehouse’s history that employees will leave the company and later return. Maybe they received a new job offer, were going back to school or just wanted to explore new opportunities. But after months, or years, many return to Firehouse. It happened so frequently, we named those employees boomerangs. I used to kid around about the term, until I became a boomerang myself. I left Firehouse in 1999 to pursue creative interests at several local ad agencies. A decade later, with the economic down-turn, I was one of many hit by a round of lay-offs. One of my first calls was to Firehouse. And, fortunately for me, they welcomed the opportunity to begin a marketing program, so here I am.

FirehouseBoomerangThe boomerang phenomenon speaks to Firehouse’s corporate culture. We have always said Firehouse is a unique mixture of a family-owned business with collaborative management practices. But, in basic terms, Firehouse is simply a great place to work. It’s a place where learning and personal development are nourished. A long-time employee recently wrote to CEO Terry Corman explaining why he was having so many successes in his personal and business life.

“I heard things like create a brand. Marketing. Email blasts. Create a business of business people. I took those things to heart, and basically sat every night applying them. I was told no, you’re not good enough more times than I can tell you. I was told to give up. Had I listened to any of that rather than filter it all out and persist, I would never have made it. I kept a positive focus on what I wanted. I now have articles and photos published world wide, I have been featured on a PBS TV show, one book in full production with a second (and possibly a third) on the way. All of this because I was at a place where I was tuned into hearing what you were saying and adopt some of it into my personal life.”

Not surprisingly, we see the boomerang effect with clients. Like employees, they explore other options, different vendors and technologies. More often than not, they return with comments such as, “Their print quality couldn’t match yours.” “Your QC team is SO much better.” “I really missed my Firehouse project manager.”

So, to all boomerang clients and employees, welcome back.

Jon Heilman
Marketing Director