Innovator of the Year

Techjet imaging

Techjet Imaging
Don Bloodworth and Jason Beatty, owners
Developed a process for printing full-color digital images on acrylic blanks

Techjet Imaging is using technology and ingenuity to enter new markets and add revenue streams. Techjet, a large-format printing firm based in Vancouver, has been in business less than two years. Last year the company had revenue of more than $400,000. The company has also grown from three to six employees and doubled its space in EastRidge Business Park to 4,000 square feet to accommodate additional equipment, including a $450,000 flat-bed, digital printer.

The company has had success with its print-for-pay business model, which includes doing one-off jobs or special projects for clients. But Techjet owners Don Bloodworth and Jason Beatty wanted to explore ways to maximize the company’s technologies. The company identified two areas it could extend its technology and capabilities.

“We wanted to develop new products to differentiate our customer base,” said Bloodworth.

The advancement of digital printing is creating possibilities that didn’t exist before and making old ways of doing things seem cumbersome and even obsolete. Techjet is pushing the envelope and opening new markets for the company by exploring those opportunities.

“We used technology we have internally and applied it in a new way,” said Bloodworth.

The company has developed and continues to refine a process for printing full-color digital images on acrylic blanks, such as awards. Traditionally, the acrylic products were laser etched and required additional steps for spot coloring. Techjet’s process allows digital images, including photographs to be printed directly onto the acrylic blanks. The company has made this product available for clients and is designing a mass-production process, which it hopes to patent.

Additionally, Techjet has applied the existing variable data printing concept to large-format printing. The product allows companies to create templates that allow for control of intellectual property such as logos and slogans and at the same time enabling customization for marketing and branding purposes. As an example, Bloodworth said a national bank could create a merchant of the month program at its individual branches. Through Techjet’s Web site, participating branches could alter variables, such as names and photos to customize a poster or banner, which could then be given to the business being recognized.

Techjet not only hopes its new products open up new markets, but create more efficient production process for employees and equipment.

“With an established flow you get very good at producing (products) very quickly and achieve a better profit margin,” said Bloodworth.

The Holland Inc.

The Holland Inc.
Tom Mears, President and CEO
Purchased wind power for 100 percent of its energy needs

Burgerville can trace its history back 45 years and its parent company, The Holland Inc., to before 1926. Back then, global business and communication wasn’t so commonplace, and “local was the way it was done,” said Holland Chief Culture Officer Jack Graves. “But The Holland has been committed to it all along.”

Introducing sustainable business practices has also been a way of doing business from the beginning, as well. Examples include the company’s use of fresh, local ingredients and recent commitments to extending health insurance to its more than 1,500 employees, including part-time workers, and using trans-fat-free cooking oil.

In 2005, the company began utilizing renewable energy as a sustainable business practice. The Holland Inc. began purchasing wind power for 100 percent of its electricity needs, including its 39 Burgerville locations and Vancouver headquarters.

By utilizing wind power, the company said it will avoid adding 17.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide to the region annually, or the equivalent of reducing the number of miles driven in the region by 19 million.
“It’s a small step, but it’s a first step by a business of our size,” said Graves.

The company hopes its initiative encourages others to follow.

According to Clark Public Utilities’ March 2006 newsletter, Columbia Credit Union was inspired by Burgerville’s commitment to voluntarily pay a higher price for electricity to support renewable forms of energy, and it joined the utilities’ Green Lights program, which goes to developing renewable energy sources.

“That’s the kind of thing we want to have happen,” said Graves.

Much of the wind energy purchased by The Holland is produced primarily on wind farms in eastern Washington and Oregon, creating direct economic impacts in those communities. It can also represent much-needed revenue for small, family-owned farms whose land houses the wind farms.

The benefits are mutual, as the company finds its efforts strike a chord with customers.

“We will continue to do this as we see other opportunities to contribute to the community and sustain our business,” said Graves.

The company recently announced a program to have its cooking oil refined into biodiesel to be used locally.

Burgerville unveiled a new look at a remodeled location in Salmon Creek, and the company is in the process of building a new restaurant across from its iconic downtown Vancouver location at the former Denny’s site. The new look will continue to be refined as the company positions itself for further growth.

Wacom Technology Corp.

Wacom Technology Corp.
Joe Deal, President
Launched Cintiq interactive pen display, allowing users to work directly on screen

Vancouver-based Wacom Technology Corp, a subsidiary of Japan’s Wacom Co., has made a name for itself as the world’s leading manufacturer in the pen tablet and OEM tablet PC markets. Wacom has been part of Southwest Washington’s business community since the company introduced the first cordless, battery-free pen tablet in the U.S. more than 15 years ago. Wacom’s branded pen tablets, which include a specialized pen and external tablet used to input information into a computer, and technology used in tablet PCs, such as credit card machines at a grocery store, control more than 95 percent of their respective markets, said Wacom Technology President Joe Deal.

Wacom continued its development of innovative products in February 2005 with the launch of its Cintiq interactive pen display product. The company took its technology to a new level by giving users the ability to work with the pen directly on the screen. The Cintiq’s 21.3-inch monitor is essentially a canvas that changes way professionals such as photographers, designers, artists, healthcare workers and engineers do their work.

The product is designed to seamlessly integrate traditional working methods while creating more instinctive, efficient processes.

“The goal is to make it as intuitive as the traditional method,” said Scott Scheirman, Wacom Technology senior product marketing manager.

The company works closely with software manufactures to create unique features and greater levels of user control not available in any other product in the market today.

Wacom credits its years invested in building partnerships with software developers as one of its strengths.

“The partnerships give meaning to our products,” said Deal.

Since its introduction, Cintiq’s sales volume has exceeded plan.

“The response has been incredible,” said Deal. “It’s becoming the way that people prefer to work.”

Wacom Technology Corp. is the largest revenue and profit producer for its parent company that posted $165 million in revenue in 2005, representing year-over-year growth of 30 percent. The Vancouver office, the company’s sole U.S. presence, is part of the company’s Electronic Systems and Devices business that produces 95 percent of the company’s revenue. Operations in the Vancouver office include about 75 employees in sales, marketing, finance, customer service, technology support, engineering and shipping. The company’s products are sold in major electronics retailers and the company’s clients include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Gateway.

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