It’s been a tough year for nearly everyone in the printing industry, so it’s reassuring that Dan Plomin of Westamerica Communications’ wide format division answers the first question on an optimistic note: “We’re actually not doing too badly – we’ve been fortunate.” We suspect it’s not so much to do with luck as with the fact that, over the years, Westamerica has proved itself to be a smart and forward-thinking business.
Putting Westamerica on the map
Starting out as The Printing Company in Orange County in 1975, Westamerica Communications is a family-owned business that has built up more than 45 years of print and communications experience. In that time, the company expanded to become one of Southern California’s leading print providers, thanks to a team that puts a premium on innovation and finding the best solution for each individual client.
The company started out as a commercial printer, providing litho and offset work, doing a lot of direct mail. As the business expanded, the management group decided it was time to diversify their sources of revenue rather than having all their eggs in one basket. Dan Plomin was experienced in wide-format graphics and came on board to help them set up and equip the new division. “We started offering wide format printing, digital die-cutting, and with an investment in dye sublimation in the form of the MS Impres 4320, soft signage, and SEG graphics. With the expansion of this opportunity, we added a Monti heat press and Impulsa automated sewing machines to the mix – an investment of about $400 thousand.” The division moved into a new facility to become a standalone operation within the group. “We had to stand on our own two feet,” says Dan, “and that’s how we got to where we are right now.”
Since 2016, he’s been the General Manager of the wide-format division. “I oversee the wide format team,” he explains, “but I also spend part of my time in sales functions, either supporting the existing sales reps with wide format projects for their current client base or dealing with my own clients. But in operations, we’ve got a really good team, so it runs itself, giving me more time to generate sales.”
A fast expansion
Building a new division from the ground up has allowed Dan to configure his equipment to suit his needs. “As well as soft signage, we also do a lot of rigid work,” he says. “We have a UV press, so we can print on PVC, acrylic, foam boards and things of that nature. We also have printers that allow us to do a lot of pressure-sensitive vinyl, whether it be vehicle wraps, wall wraps, stickers, environmental graphics – and we handle all the installation for it, too.”
Before coming to Westamerica, Dan had plenty of experience of the different printers available on the market – valuable first-hand knowledge that meant he knew just what he wanted for the new division. “I’d already done a comparison of all the machines I’d worked with prior to coming to Westamerica and arriving here, I started looking at alternatives. The MS Impres 4320 came out on top. It’s a very robust machine and it has a great support network through the Dover system. Additionally, I really liked the integration with the Caldera RIP. But the thing that sold me was its ease of use over its competitors.”
Obviously, price was a factor, but it wasn’t the only thing. “We could have stepped down to some cheaper printers,” explains Dan, “but we wanted something that was not only going to work great for us consistently, day in, day out, but would be something we could rely on in the long term. You know, we were putting a heavy investment into dye sublimation when we had zero work, so we wanted to make sure we were laying a really solid foundation for that part of our business.”