Pivoting Production Pays off for Decal Doodle
Decal Doodle | Fairhope, Alabama
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every business, but certain industries have been particularly vulnerable to its restrictions. Fairhope, Alabama’s SOHO Event Rentals opened in 2014 in a garage with 50 chairs and had grown to be one of the largest event rental companies in the southeast, with a 35,000 square foot warehouse and 30 employees. When the pandemic shutdown began, the cancellations started rolling in.
Fortunately, SOHO Event Rentals had just purchased a Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-540 digital printer/cutter. To preserve their employees’ jobs, they decided to begin producing safety signage and other digital graphics, calling their new venture Decal Doodle. We caught up with Mary Beth Massey, Decal Doodle’s director of marketing, to find out how the company reinvented itself with a new business strategy.
Tell us how you decided to incorporate digital printing in your events business?
Mary Beth Massey: Previously we had outsourced all of our vinyl printing for event branding with SOHO. We wanted to find a way to produce custom wraps for dance floors, bars and tents in-house.
“Our printer arrived the same week that the CDC shut down the event industry.”We did a lot of research and decided that the Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-540 54-inch digital printer/cutter would fit our needs best. Having equipment that produces quality prints, as well as user-friendly software and affordably priced materials, were our main considerations. The VG2 has exceeded all our expectations. No matter the size of the finished product, the print quality is always next level.
The timing of the whole thing was amazing. Our printer arrived the same week that the CDC shut down the event industry. The cancellation calls started coming in, and we were very concerned that we’d have to lay off all of our employees.
Tell us about Decal Doodle. Had this offshoot been in the works before COVID-19?
It was not. Our original intent with the printer was to use it strictly for event branding with SOHO. We wanted to bring this portion of our business in-house to eliminate outsourcing costs.
We quickly transitioned from an event rental business to keeping our team employed through digital printing. With the mindset of “turning lemons into lemonade,” we launched Decal Doodle.
What kind of graphics do you produce?
In the beginning, the majority of our business was COVID-19-related signage. We produced decals for social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. We then added a UV printer, a screen printer and DTG machine to print t-shirts. We also offer digitally printed floor and window decals, banners, and signage, which has been well received by our clients.
In January 2021, Decal Doodle landed two graphics jobs in Tampa at the Super Bowl – less than a year after we launched this business. We produced custom decals for a tent at the Riverwalk and custom stage skirting for a local news station broadcasting on site. We were only a very small part of the Super Bowl, but it was a big opportunity for our team.
Going forward, what do you see happening for your business?
We hope to keep learning and growing. Keeping our digital print production humming is an important part of our growth strategy going forward. With the versatility of our VG2, we feel prepared to handle whatever comes next.