Taking Risks in the Name Badge Business Pays Off – Part 1

Taking Risks in the Name Badge Business Pays Off – Part 1

Imprint Plus in “Products to Watch” with the now infamous Plotter (Fortune Magazine 1994)

Over the years we have attained many Imprint Plus milestones, but our first failure in the name badge business occurred one year when we took great risks. But, sometimes, failures can lead to surprising turns down the road.

It was the early 90′s, and our goal was to design a name badge system that could make personalized name badges at the customers’ premises, without engraving.   We had engineers look at all the options, and the solution we decided on was a small format plotter. We called this the Imprinter+ system.

Getting the plotter to work, fine-tuning the driver software, finding the pens, all took time and money, but when we were finally ready to roll with the new name badge product, we learnt that the plotter had become an obsolete technology!  Roland, the company who made the plotters, only had 1000 left, and they could be bought for the bargain price of $239.00 each. We pitched a 3-year payment schedule on all remaining stock, and Roland agreed. We were in business!

Watching the pen ink the names on the plotter was, and still is, mesmerizing. We have customers who still use this solution today! I have not seen the movie Hugo, but the glimpses of the automation are reminiscent of the plotter’s magical movement, minus the figurine.

Life has many twists and turns and our next twist was Fortune Magazine  in 1994. The ‘New Products to Watch’ section wrote a spectacular article on our innovative name badge solution. The leads and orders came pouring in.

We were ecstatic until we got our first customer complaint call. The names on the printed name badges were rubbing off!  The ink was not permanent and alcohol or hair spray was turning out to be the culprit leaving many of the name badges blank. A quick solution to the unexpected problem needed immediate attention. Customers were waiting to see what we would do. The first thing we did was to Freak out! We understood that the solution would definitely determine the future of our business. We argued often, and were generally testy!

We knew we didn’t have much time to come up with a solution, but the great news was the customers loved the simplicity in creating name badges and were willing to work with us while we researched and developed a fix.

To be continued…