It’s a milestone year for nPrint Graphix, as the venture started by one of its owners when he was a teenager hit the quarter-century mark.
Technically, it’s the 15th year for nPrint Graphix, as it rebranded in 2006 from SharpSigns of Springfield. However, John Fugitt, who embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in the sign business when he was a senior at Republic High School, has been at the helm for 25 years. He co-owns nPrint Graphix with his wife, Beth.
“It was limiting,” he says of why he pivoted from the SharpSigns name.
John bought the name and logo in 1996 from Scott Brady, who began SharpSigns Inc. in Forsyth, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
“I told my wife (in 2006) that we’ve got to become a graphics company and become more graphics focused,” John says. “We still do signage, but we do a lot of graphics-related work like wall art, table wraps. We can print on almost anything – tile, doors.
“It really changed the game for us. That’s why we did it.”
The company also offers printing services for wallpaper, flooring and artwork. Some of its clients include O’Reilly Automotive Inc., Choice Hotels and James River Church.
The same year as the name change also brought a move in shop locations. The company’s first home was in roughly 1,000 square feet on Republic Road. Today, nPrint Graphix occupies seven times that space at 1943 W. Sunset St.
Since its move, the company’s employee count has tripled to a staff of 12. Beth, nPrint’s chief financial officer, says her time in the office fluctuates, and she frequently stays at home when the couple’s children are out of school.
“I’m there mostly full time and I don’t always just do the accounting,” she says. “I do whatever needs to be done.”
Prior to changing names and moving, the company’s wholesale business was around 15% with the remainder retail, John says. That consisted of around 625 wholesale clients.
“When we did the name change, we sort of switched gears from retail to move a little more wholesale,” he says.
The move to a much larger space also allowed the Fugitts to add and upgrade their in-house printers. Wholesale now makes up about 40% of nPrint Graphix’s sales, John says, noting its wholesale clientele has reached close to 3,500 – an increase of over 450% in 15 years.
“I’ve even shipped to Hawaii,” he says. “I used to have a map where I’d put pins in it but then I gave up because it was getting too crazy.”
Revenue for nPrint hit the $1 million mark around 2010, the couple say. That total has more than doubled in the decade since, averaging $2 million-$2.5 million in the past couple of years.
The Fugitts say retail is still very much a focus at nPrint. John says one of nPrint’s most recent projects – a redesign of a children’s area for Bloom Church in Branson – also is one of its most ambitious. Design work to create a space theme for the church began in February, Beth says. Installation wrapped up this month.
“That’s why this one was probably one of the biggest,” she says. “We actually did it from start to finish.”
John says the church gave the company carte blanche to tackle the project.
“We designed it all on 3D modeling space,” he says. “We literally have a rocket where you can hit a button and smoke starts coming out of the bottom of it.”
Convoy of Hope has been a client for over a decade, says nonprofit spokesperson Ethan Forhetz. While declining to disclose the average order size or frequency, he says Convoy uses nPrint for signs and banners, some of which are as big as 15 by 15 feet. The company provided letters for a temporary sign positioned outside Convoy of Hope’s new distribution center in Republic. Forhetz says the 60-inch-tall letters stretch out about 80 feet long to spell out the nonprofit’s website.
“We want to stay local, and one of the things we really appreciate about nPrint is their customer service,” he says. “They are willing to bend over backwards to make it happen the way we want it and on our time frame.”
Growing the roster of clients has meant an investment in equipment and workforce this year, John says. The company has hired three new employees with a desire to reach a 20-person staff.
A flatbed scanner is among the $350,000 investment in machines the owners have made over the past eight months.
“We’ll trade equipment about every three to five years,” he says. “I do it every five years because, one, it keeps us on the latest technology, and two, we can get a return of investment on it. I just don’t like old equipment.”
John says the company’s Sunset Street location has served them well over the past 15 years. However, almost every square inch of the building is in use, he says.
“We need room. We could use probably 15,000-20,000 square feet easy,” he says. “If I have it, I can probably fill it up quick.”
Beth says the company has been debt free for about seven years, and while the couple is interested in eventually constructing a new building, there’s no rush. Construction means “a ton of debt,” John says, noting building plans he’s considered would be $2 million-$3 million to construct.
“We’ve looked at some land and things like that,” he says. “With construction costs right now, we’re not going to do anything. We’re going to hang tight.”
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