Some screen printers may consider taking chances on new technology too risky, but Intergraphics sees it as a gateway to experimentation and product expansion. Learn how the shop’s adventurous and fearless spirit made it a successful graphics provider for an international client base.
By Lori Leaman
A forward thinker…restless inventor…an aggressive individual always looking for opportunities” are some of the ways people describe Conrad Desender, the founder and owner of Intergraphics, a label- and decal-printing company based in Winnipeg, Canada. It was these attributes that helped Desender grow a small, home-based print shop into a 100-employee, multimillion-dollar company that provides a variety of graphic and industrial printing services to numerous markets throughout Canada, Europe, and the US.
Desender started Intergraphics with his wife, Yvonne, in 1969. They began with a homemade graphics press, no staff, and little experience in operating a business. But they did have a great deal of ambition, excitement, and a desire to succeed. Conrad, who was born in Belgium, was introduced to screen-printing technology as a teenager while working in a print shop. At the time of starting his own business, he had accumulated 13 years of screen-printing experience. Yvonne worked at a bank for six years prior opening the business with her husband. She had no experience in screen printing, but brought with her a background in finance and a good head for business. They initially focused on point-of-purchase graphics and posters.
Desender took a chance after just two years and switched the focus of the business to the manufacture of decals. It was a smart and lucrative move. “Conrad attributes this change as the most far reaching and important in the history of his company,” says Matt Jones, CFO of Intergraphics. “It was the one event that has led to his success and to defining the core of this business.”
Intergraphics reaped the rewards of its change in specialization over the next few years, growing to a staff of four and adding an American Cameo semiautomatic graphics press. By the late 1970s, the company employed 15 and had installed semi-automatic presses manufactured by Mueller Graphics.
The introduction of thermal dies in the early 1970s revealed a chance for Desender to provide a product and service that he considered to be leading edge. In 1977, he purchased one of the first thermal diecutters in Canada.
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