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Among other big happenings, National Business Media (NBM) celebrated 30 years in business in 2015. (Image courtesy NBM)

A&E Industry Report: 2015 In Review

*Click below for a slideshow of images

This past year was a big one in the awards and engraving industry. From fresh product releases to new business divisions, there were a lot of events to keep up on. In case you missed anything, take a look at the big happenings for 2015.


Rowmark Introduces GoVivid Division

2015 was a busy year for Rowmark LLC, which kicked off the year by announcing its new division, GoVivid—a new division providing UV-LED printer, print media, sign-making accessories and more to the signage, awards, recognition, photography and other markets.

“Rowmark had a terrific 2015. It was a year full of new products, new business relationships, new beginnings and a new building,” Marketing Coordinator Jordan Brown tells A&E magazine. “Rowmark has been fortunate to experience tremendous growth in our business.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1OUosO6

Sawgrass Partners with Ricoh on New Printers        

Sawgrass Technologies also began the new year in an exciting way, partnering with printer manufacturer Ricoh on the new Sawgrass Virtuoso HD Product Decorating System.

“It is the first printer that we are actually selling, but it’s also the first complete system” available on the market, says Robin Kavanagh, Sawgrass’s global public relations manager.

Sawgrass has partnered with Ricoh and other printing manufacturers before on developing products for the sublimation market, but Virtuoso is a completely new venture for his company, according to Mike McEvoy, Sawgrass’s director of marketing communications.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1OkN1yQ


Gemini Launches Duets by Gemini

On Feb. 1, Minnesota-based Gemini Inc. branched out in its launch of subsidiary Duets by Gemini, offering extruded plastic sheet material targeted primarily at the engraving, architectural and ADA-compliant sign markets.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NJfBhl


Trotec Opens Regional Service Centers to Get Closer to Customers

Laser engraver and cutter manufacturer Trotec opened its first regional service center in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

The company said it first started the idea of regional service centers a couple of years ago. Prior to that, if a customer needed training or if a potential customer wanted to try out a machine, it often required a trip to company headquarters in Canton, Michigan.

“(The Michigan facility is) great, it was wonderful for people that are local here, but when people are halfway across the country, it was quite a journey to get here sometimes,” Warren Knipple, president of Trotec Laser Inc., says. “So the more we thought about it, we said we need to be closer to our customers, we need to make this more convenient for our customers, so we put a plan in place to start these up throughout the country.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1mduHRN


Rowmark Buys Johnson Plastics

In 2015, the Rowmark family grew. In June, the company announced its acquisition of Minneapolis-based engraving products and sublimation supplies distributor Johnson Plastics, picking up its nine regional sales and distribution centers.

The buyout of Johnson Plastics allows Rowmark’s GoVivid division to set up customer demonstration centers, service hubs and training in Johnson’s nine locations scattered across the country.
Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NYkll0

Trodat Buys Out Millennium Marking

Trodat USA announced the acquisition of marking industry products supplier Millennium Marking Co.

“This is the perfect combination for Trodat, Millennium Marking and the rubber stamp industry,” says Paul DeMartini, president and CEO of Trodat USA. “Millennium Marking Co.’s wide range of products, distribution locations and expertise will greatly enhance our service and product offering, and demonstrates our continued commitment to the U.S. stamp market and U.S. stamp maker.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1Y05GKN

THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW, Indianapolis

 “We had a fantastic event in Indianapolis this year,” says Brandy Jamison-Neth, executive trade show sales manager for the Awards & Engraving market. “Attendees enjoyed an expanded range of exhibiting companies from lasers to personalized gifts, as well as the International Marking and Identification Association’s annual meeting. We can’t wait to return in 2016.”

According to Dave Pomeroy, vice president of publishing and markets, this year’s THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW featured significantly more display space than 2014’s show.

“THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW has become the premier event for the Midwestern U.S., and we are delighted to have brought a larger, more multi-faceted event to Indianapolis this year,” Pomeroy says. “Raw square footage of exhibit space increased by 34 percent over last year, and attendees were treated to a robust, energetic show that truly represented the best that the graphics markets have to offer.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NCucd1


Kern Laser Used to Fashion Vancouver Artwork

A laser cutter made by Kern Laser Systems of Wadena, Minnesota, played a major role in the creation of a piece of public art recently installed at the Vancouver, British Columbia, International Airport.

Canadian artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas was commissioned to make the 12-meter (39-foot) high sculpture. Called “Sei”—pronounced “sigh”—after the fourth-largest whale in the world, the arched statue depicts the mammal jumping out of the water in mid-leap. According to Kern, one of its machines was used to cut all of the outside materials and most of the interior supports that hold the 3,855-kilogram (8,500-pound) statue together.

“2015 was another great for Kern Laser Systems,” Director of Marketing Molly Sletten tells A&E magazine. “Kern continues to grow its market share in the large-format laser system market. We experienced another record year in sales volume and number of laser systems shipped out. Our team of employees keeps growing and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1OVPcvL

THE NBM SHOW, Long Beach

“The energy-packed aisles and overall activity at THE NBM SHOW in Long Beach was everything we hoped and planned for,” says Dave Pomeroy, vice president of publishing and markets for NBM. “It was great to be back in Long Beach with plenty of familiar faces and some new ones, too. The incredible attendance at this show validates our plan to evolve the event into THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW WEST in 2016.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NCvEMu


Rowmark Makes Headlines Again with LaserBits Buyout

Less than nine months after announcing it would begin selling UV-LED digital printers and associated products through its new GoVivid division, and fewer than 90 days since its last bombshell—the announcement it was buying awards and engraving stalwart Johnson Plastics—Rowmark LLC generated headlines again with its buyout of LaserBits, a wholesale provider of laser materials and training.

“With tremendous growth, comes change and our employees have handled the changes in our business wonderfully. We have integrated new systems, new businesses and also transitioned into a new, state-of-the-art facility. All of this could not have been accomplished without the dedicated and caring employees Rowmark has,” says Brown.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1Q4Jv1R

BOFA International Founder Steps Aside; Company Sold in Management Buyout

The founder, chairman, director and CEO of BOFA International, an England-based manufacturer of fume extraction equipment and technology, stepped down from the company after 30 years. Dave Cornell announces that he and his two sons, Chris and Lawrence, will no longer serve as directors of the company.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1mdvuSF


Duets by Gemini Launches New Partner Network

Cannon Falls, Minnesota-based Duets by Gemini announced the launch of a new distribution partner network for Duets engraving, ADA and architectural sign substrates.

The new partner network includes B.F. Plastics Inc.; Delvie’s Plastics Inc.; Diversified Sign Suppliers Inc.; Hansen Supply; JDS Industries Inc.; and Nash Industries Inc.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1QhTDE6

Epilog Opens New Canadian Subsidiary

Epilog Laser announced the opening of Epilog Laser Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent company. “It’s been a really strong year for us,” Director of Marketing James Stanaway says. “It’s an exciting time up there. With a huge growing market, having an office for Epilog there is definitely a great thing for the market.”

Of course, the growth hasn’t been without challenges, Stanaway admits. “The biggest transitions were working to learn all the laws and rules that go into place in (Canada). It’s different learning the ins and outs of every aspect of the business.”

The company was also recognized in a way that was close to home. Stanaway shares that, after many years of placing in the top 10, Epilog was named the best place to work in Denver by its employees. “How the employees feel like a team and how we appreciate them shows how the ownership gives us whatever we need to succeed,” he states. “It’s interesting to see the final reports and get an overall picture of what the employees think.”

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NYkXaf


For the first time in the 30-year history of National Business Media, THE NBM SHOW took place on the company’s home turf of Denver, just down the road from NBM headquarters in Broomfield, Colorado.

“We are thrilled to have proof of concept for THE NBM 2-DAY SHOW,” says Dave Pomeroy, vice president of publishing and markets for NBM. “Exhibiting companies were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and high attendance numbers from Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. Standing-room-only classes were evidence of a market eager to learn; packed aisles at the show revealed a market ready to buy.”

THE NBM 2-DAY SHOW in Denver was NBM’s finale for 2015, but THE NBM SHOW returns in 2016 with another slate of shows, starting with Arlington, Texas, March 10-12. Later stops include THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW in Indianapolis; then a Western version—new for 2016—THE NBM B.I.G. SHOW in Long Beach, California; followed by later stops in Baltimore, Charlotte, Portland, and Denver. 

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1NCvOmX


JDS Continues to Add More Space

At JDS Industries, having enough room to put the company’s “stuff” is enough of an issue that it is doing more than its share to keep the construction industry humming along.

“Nationwide, we’re kind of creeping toward that million square feet, and that just sounds like a heck of a lot of space, but you keep growing and it just keeps adding up,” says Scott Sletten, president and CEO of JDS Industries, a full-line supplier of component parts to the awards, gifts and promotions, personalization, and sublimation industries.

The company expanded three of its 14 warehouse facilities around the country, and that’s after having added space at four others in 2014. Sletten states that the reasons for the expansions include “increasing sales of existing products, and then just increasing amounts. So, those two things in combination. And then of course, with today’s world of more and more products being imported, it means we have to keep a lot more inventory than we would if a product was made domestically. You’ve got to keep that safety stock.”

The company is adding an additional 24,000 square feet of space at its Jessup, Maryland facility, bringing that facility into the 60,000- to 65,000-square-foot range. Its Houston facility added about the same amount to bring its total to about 65,000, but it added more than just extra floor space. “We moved to much more modern warehousing; the ceiling height was substantially taller as well, (which) allows us to store more vertical product, so our increase is even more… than what the footprint would indicate,” adds Sletten.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/1OVPrGU

Got a news tip? Contact Julia Schroeder