Sometimes you walk into a business, meet the people that work there, see how they interact with their customers and get the immediate feeling that they love what they do. That’s the feeling you get at Upper Level Graphics, local experts on the design, printing and application of vehicle graphics, banners, signs and other forms of specialty graphics.
Matthew Rojek and Joe Schmitt run a successful graphics business because they first listen to what a customer wants to do, and then bring the idea home through practical suggestions and diplomatically suggested alternatives when a customer needs to be steered in the right direction to achieve their goals.
To learn more about Upper Level Graphics, we got Matthew Rojek to slow down for a few minutes to answer some of our questions.
.iTownOnline.com - How long have you been in this business? Were you doing this somewhere else before you decided to open your own shop?
Matt Rojek: This is my 18th year. Actually I started out as a pin striper striping cars at local dealerships which after 5 years led me into designing and making my own graphics both commercially as well as artistically, like flames, corporate logos and assorted vehicle graphics.
It seems like a lot of people are starting to discover the benefits of professionally designed and applied vehicle graphics, and we know that is how your business started. But how has your business changed since you started it?
Operationally, we used to use either single color vinyl or multiple layers of vinyl, which was very labor intensive as well as vulnerable to peeling - now everything we do is digitally printed. We also have expanded our product line to include banners, museum work, trade show displays and a variety of other printed materials.
Do people generally know what they want to do with vehicle graphics, or do they rely on you for a lot of help?
90% of our customers come to us because they saw other jobs we had done and were impressed visually so they ask us to “do the same” for them. We design a large percentage of what we print and install.
Tell us about a customer that saw some great results from their vehicle graphics...
We had a new customer come to us who had minimal graphics on their existing business vans from another sign shop. They wanted something more and had seen some of our work. On his $1000 investment he could directly account for $36,000 worth of new business over a 3 month period of time.
What has been your most challenging job? How did it turn out?
We recently updated an exhibit at the Plymouth Historical Museum. We scanned an old lithograph and colorized it to match the statue figures of Abe and Martha Lincoln that were in the current exhibit. It was essentially a digitally printed wallpaper job. The director was thrilled as we hit it dead on.
Can you tell us about the most unusual request you have ever received?
We did an airplane that Kraft Foods used to fly their executives to the Super Bowl in Florida. We flew down to Atlanta to install the graphics, and then we pulled the graphics off 3 days later as they had only rented the jet for a weekend.
Another fun project was for some banners that I took when we went on a church building project in the Amazon, in a small town named Atabopo.
Tell us about some of the other work you do...
We handle a wide range, from hockey helmet logos; Plymouth/Plymouth Township Police vehicles; event banners; gold leaf for local Fire Department Trucks; and as an example of a large project, we did graphics and installation on about 100 vehicles for a communications company re-identity campaign – it involved a 13-state road trip.
What’s the deal with Joe? Does he do all the work while you bask in the glory of doing website interviews? Tell us a little more about you two.
No basking is allowed for either one of us! Joe has been a tremendous addition to our company. He has 27 years of sign industry experience and is a very articulate and knowledgeable software manipulator. I am an artist by nature and degree. I love what I do and enjoy the satisfaction of creating. We both find it is much easier to work hard when we can have fun doing it.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t doing this?
My job is a dream job, but it would also be very satisfying to be a full time construction missionary, building churches in South America; or a jazz drummer.
Thanks Matt! Get back to work!
Upper Level Graphics is at 211 West Ann Arbor Trail in Plymouth. Ph: 734.459-4767; web: ulgraphics.com