Fuel Graphics

A Decade of Graphics Innovation

Fuel Graphics   |   New Ulm, Minnesota

When Randy Horejsi discovered the world of graphic design and production, he knew he’d found his true calling. In 2010, at the ripe old age of 23, Randy founded Horejsi Graphics in New Ulm, Minnesota. After several years, he transitioned to running his business full time. 

After more than a decade in business, and a name change to Fuel Graphics, we caught up with Randy to discuss how he launched his company and grew it from primarily providing racing wraps to offering all types of graphics.

Please give us some background on you and your path to launching Fuel Graphics. 
Randy Horejsi: It’s funny how it happened. I have no business background and had no intention of ever opening a business. I grew up in a family that did dirt track racing. My favorite time of the year was putting the graphics on the race cars. I used to cut vinyl and paint models, but I never thought I’d be doing it for a living. 

“The [VG2's] colors are so vibrant – it’s amazing to see all the colors we can hit now.”

After high school, I worked at a body shop, then got a job at a manufacturing place as a welder. Welding was fun, but not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After trying a program in drafting and architecture, I decided to switch to a one-year printing program. I thought maybe I’d operate a printing press. There I learned how to use Adobe’s Creative Suite, and I started designing business cards and vehicle wraps. 

In 2010, I founded my business and used my first-time homebuyer tax credit to buy a used 30-inch Roland DG printer.  I put it in the spare bedroom. I had no clue how to use it – it took me a week to learn how to make a cut line. Then I just started making stuff. I was finally able to print my race car wrap graphics instead of sending them out.  

In 2013, I made Horejsi Graphics into an LLC, and in 2016, I quit my full-time job to run my business.  In 2021, we changed the name to Fuel Graphics. Other than taking 3M training for wrapping, I’ve learned every business aspect of the job on my own.

Have you always had Roland DG printers?  
Absolutely. Roland DG’s printers are bulletproof. I worked at another sign shop for eight months and learned about Roland DG printers from my mentor there. That shop had other printing equipment that didn’t perform as well.  Roland DG printers are incredibly solid, reliable machines, and having the print/cut combination in one piece of equipment is a real benefit.

In 2013 I got my first 64-inch Roland DG printer. The additional width means I only have to print one piece per side for a wrap.  I also got the take up reel, so I can set up projects to print unattended.  Now when I show up in the morning, the graphics are finished –it’s like we’ve printed money overnight. 

Why did you decide to invest in a Roland DG TrueVIS VG2?
With every year that’s gone by, I’ve upgraded and improved our production capability.  Even though I had the 64-inch Roland, we needed an additional printer with increased speed because our workflow was ramping up.  

We brought in the Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-540 54-inch printer/cutter for its speed and the wider ink gamut.  We got the take up reel for the VG2as well, so it can also produce for us overnight. We’re running CMYK with Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black and Orange inks. The colors are so vibrant – it’s amazing to see all the colors we can hit now. 

Please tell us about your shop today. How many employees do you have? 
Since August 2017, we have had our own freestanding building and storefront right in the downtown area.  Our facility is about 3,400 square feet and we have three stalls for vehicle graphics. I have one employee right now. 

What industries do you serve? 
We do a little bit of everything, but the bulk of our business these days is commercial. We serve the construction industry and many local service providers like electrical and plumbing services. We’ve also done work for the city, as well as provided graphics, posters, decals and banners for the schools.  We still do some race cars as well. 

We design and install many, many vehicle wraps, but we wouldn’t survive if we only wrapped cars and trucks. We also wrap boats, which I really enjoy.   In addition, we have a North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) league junior hockey team here and we make all the dasher board graphics for the arena. We wrap the Zamboni, put graphics in the center of the hockey rink, and even wrap the masks for the goalies.  In addition to the boat and sports team wraps, we also provide window and floor graphics for retail establishments and restaurants.

We like taking on projects we can do from start to finish – from design to installation.

How has COVID-19 affected your business? Are you starting to see a return to normal?  
At first, when our state shut everything down, we closed too. But we provide UPS shipping services, so we were considered essential and we were able to open back up.  Outside of that, we have been extremely fortunate in that our business has been very steady throughout the year. We’ve actually had our best year ever.

We didn’t get a lot of requests for safety signage immediately, but we made 2’ x 4’ banners that said “dine-in closed, take out only” and similar messages, and offered them for free to restaurants. We also produced some other simple signage and decals. It was something we could do that helped our community, and it was even mentioned in one of the Governor’s press conferences. I definitely understand the importance of shops like mine being open to help people communicate the changes to their customers. 

What lies ahead for Fuel Graphics? Are there areas of your business you'd like to expand?
I’m hoping to begin offering more apparel. We sub it out right now, but I’d like to bring that business in-house.

I’m working on making a lot more of our products available online, so people can find them and order them easily. I would also like to start a website offering sports decals, including banners for ice arenas and baseball fields. With our two Roland DG printers, I feel like we’re ready to take on more business now.