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Bigger, better business

NORTH LIBERTY– AlphaGraphics in North Liberty has gone larger, in more ways than one.
The print and small business services center that opened in 2008 at 720 Pacha Parkway in North Liberty has grown enough to warrant an expansion into the available commercial space next door, nearly doubling its square footage and adding a new large-format printer. AlphaGraphics now has more space to offer its wide range of services and products, including marketing assistance and communication solutions, self-publishing options, design and creation of print products, website design and mailing services.
In 2010, Alphagraphics merged with Signs & Screenprinters of Iowa, increasing its client base and absorbing two staff members from the Iowa City location while adding a new staff person to the North Liberty shop. The business volume and the additional equipment warranted the larger space, said North Liberty AlphaGraphics owner Dennis Tallman.
“When you do these large jobs, you just need a lot of room,” Tallman said. Mailing jobs, for example, range from handling 500 pieces to 15,000, depending on the client’s needs.
Tallman’s new digital large format printer, which can produce oversized photos, presentation graphics, banners and signs of virtually limitless sizes on a variety of materials, is also environmentally friendly.
“The ink is eco-solvent and latex-based, the machine doesn’t vent to the outside, and it has the durability and lifetime of any other technology,” Tallman said. In fact, the AlphaGraphics corporation was one of the first print industry companies to adopt the Forest Stewardship Council certification in all of its locations, and is also partnered with the ocean preservation organization Earthwatch.
Besides, the large format printer allows for the creation of some fun and unique products, too: recently, the North Liberty location turned out 50 Ricky Stanzi cutouts for the Children’s Miracle Network, and extra large display photos– Big Heads– of University of Iowa Hawkeye basketball and volleyball team members. In Solon, AlphaGraphics’ work decorates the remodeled Lakeview Elementary School library, where 100 different words– wall decals produced by AlphaGraphics– float on the walls inspiring young library users to “Read. Learn. Explore. Dream. Create,” and more.
Founded by entrepreneur Rodger Ford in Arizona in 1970, AlphaGraphics was launched as a print services company with a visionary eye toward offering the latest in visual communications technology. The company began franchising in 1979, and by the late 1980s, became the first U.S. printing franchise to expand internationally. The company is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and now has more than 270 franchises throughout the United States and five other countries.
Locally, AlphaGraphics’ progressive and diversified services have helped expand its reach to clients throughout the Corridor, noted Tallman. From helping start-up businesses with logo design and creation, letterhead, stationary and website design to assisting existing businesses with customer retention, obtaining mailing lists specific to certain geographies or demographics and sending out newsletters, AlphaGraphics handles both print and non-print related tasks.
“We have the systems and services that allow us to offer full service marketing campaigns using things like mobile websites, text messaging campaigns, email marketing and electronic newsletters,” said Tallman. “As the world of printing has changed, we have changed with it. We try to make it very easy for customers by being very diversified.”
Fellow North Liberty business owner Michael Tryon is one of those satisfied customers who found a valuable business partner in AlphaGraphics.
“The service is unprecedented, and the relationship is impeccable,” said Tryon.
It is that kind of customer service that earned AlphaGraphics the Eliot Keller Small Business of the Year award for 2011 from the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce. Nominees are put to an online vote by its membership, said Chamber President and CEO Nancy Quellhorst.
“AlphaGraphics was selected from among its peers,” said Quellhorst. “Although it likely faced significant challenges, because it started during the poor economy of 2008, the business has grown every year as a result of their knowledge, pricing and dedicated customer service.”
It’s also due to the can-do outlook from Tallman and his staff; his son and shop manager Nick Tallman and employees Angie Kellogg, Shawn Schwickerath and Joby Dyer.
“They are more likely to ask, ‘How can we do that?’ rather than, ‘We can’t do that,’” said Quellhorst.
AlphaGraphics’ success does stand out in the current economic environment, and Tallman said he continues to look at ways to grow into the future.
“We have been very pleased with the support from the local business community and throughout the Corridor,” Tallman said. “I still see growth potential, and our location helps because this really is becoming one [business] region.”