Putting method behind the magic
Working nationwide across the United States, visual communications specialist Tectonics provides its customers with unique solutions by creating awe-inspiring graphic installations and materials. This month, we caught up with Tectonics Vice President and General Manager Steve Grundner to find out how the company uses CalderaRIP software to inject a bit of magic into the workflow.
Visual communication specialists
If you ask Tectonics what it does, the answer that comes back is, ‘We deliver premium quality solutions that win business and delight your customers’. Adding a little more detail, Tectonics is a company that specializes in visual communications, printing and constructing display solutions for clients across a wide range of industry verticals. “We serve live events, retail, experiential marketing, sports and entertainment, trade shows and more,” explains Steve Grundner. “We specialize in visual communication and displays – dye sublimation, tension fabrics, lettering, banners, soft signage and even light structural work for trade show booths and displays. We engineer and manufacture the entire product, from concept to delivery.”
With 80 years in business, and a team that boasts hundreds of years of combined experience, Tectonics has a perfect understanding that what they do reflects who they are. The reason for their success is that they never sit still and are constantly learning, growing and expanding the tools and applications they use to create the most advanced manufacturing environment worldwide. Client satisfaction is the company’s most important metric, so they put everything into getting it right, every time.
Caldera and Tectonics – a perfect fit
Tectonics has been using Caldera software for five years, particularly in the print on demand sector, for both B2B2C and B2C customers. “There’s a great story behind Tectonics that continues today,” says Steve. “We are differentiated from our competitors in that we’re heavily focused on technology adoption and implementation, automation, lean manufacturing, and software development. Printing has obviously been digital for a long time but harnessing that digitization and employing its virtues within our digital operational workflows is key. We operate an automated manufacturing ecosystem that is driven by automation and unique, cohesive software systems. Caldera is an integral component of this software ecosystem that we rely on pretty heavily. We’re machine agnostic and we’ve been print partners to most major print OEMs for a long time, so we need to have software that lets us work across different platforms, business models and operational workflows.”
E-commerce print workflows are different to large project-driven live event workflows, but Caldera software allows the Tectonics print operation to handle both. According to Steve, “Quality is a goal and requirement of ours when it comes to technology adoption. Regarding the finished product on the print side, color and repeatability are paramount, and this is where Caldera comes in. Although Caldera is performing well, we are always looking to extract the most benefit from the software, so it’s a work in progress – and as we add new products and new customers, the software is growing with us.”
Software as solution
Tectonics needs software which will perform in critical areas – speed, quality and user experience are key. Other software they tried in the past proved to be less than ideal. “Additionally, the color management we get from Caldera software is superb,” Steve adds. “So, it scores for usability and quality. Speed is important, and the combination of the software and hardware works – Caldera fits well into our diverse ecosystem of hardware. With e-commerce, demand is not deterministic and varies widely day-to-day and across seasons. Our software must be flexible enough to deal with that and do it seamlessly.” It works with all the platforms Tectonics uses – EFI, HP, Regianni, Durst and so on. “It works well and doesn’t give us any issues. This is why we’re partnered with Caldera, and what led us down the path to implementation, to where we are today.”
Partners in print
One of the things that Steve particularly appreciates about Caldera is the company’s responsiveness. “We can call the reps at any time, and they always pick up,” he says. “Over the years, if there’s ever been an issue, the responsiveness is good, and the quality and content of the answer, the feedback that we’re looking for, is good. When we’ve had a turnover of people who didn’t understand how Caldera works, they’ve helped us navigate that, and for something that could be a giant headache it’s become simple because the Caldera team engages with us. Great client service is expected and demanded, and it’s always been good.”
Tectonics recently bought six Durst P5 Tex digital printers. Bringing them into the workflow with Caldera was seamless. “We plugged them in, turned them on, installed the drivers and we were off. We’ve been an EFI partner for a long time, and also an HP partner, and then with the introduction of Durst to our platform, there were some concerns with implementation around the RIP. But Durst had validated Caldera early on, and we trusted that Caldera would work. And it did – we have no issues with the RIP software.”
Steve identifies one area where Caldera really stands out for him. “What brings me happiness? To be honest with you, it’s fourth quarter e-commerce. This is an area where we have no inventory – it’s all print on demand and it’s all a two-day turnaround. It’s very high volume and everything is customized and one-off – we don’t print two of anything and the margin for error is zero. If you do something wrong and you’re a day into it, you have almost no time to do it again and meet the shipping deadline. And I think one metric of success is your client contact rate. So, if we have no customers calling in and complaining, that’s a good indicator. If we have a lot of customers calling in with issues, that’s an indicator that we’re not performing well. Same thing goes for our software. If the software is doing its job in terms of quality, timing and speed, there are no issues and it’s working as advertised. And I don’t recall one issue through the last quarter about the RIP. During Q1 through Q3, the work is important, but the pace isn’t frantic, if things work perfectly that’s good. But until we’re in the heat of Q4 when all our systems are running at full speed, that’s when we find out whether the RIP’s performing or not. That’s the test, and Caldera performed. That’s what we pay for and that’s what we expect, and Caldera delivered, so we’re happy with it. I can say it’s absolutely worth the investment.
“Caldera, and how it’s tied into all our other ecosystems – that would be hard for anyone else to replicate, and that’s where the magic happens. Caldera is a big part of what we do, and it is integral in writing our success story. Without it, we might not have had the confidence that we have today.”