by Donna Covannon
Melan, Inc. president Garo Nazarian has always had a penchant for using leading-edge technologies to create winning business strategies.Photo: Garo Nazarian proudly stands in front of wallpaper, produced at his shop, that was featured at Xeikon Café North America 2019.
How it all started
In 1996, he founded a business that was the first in his hometown of Montréal to provide direct-to-plate (DTP) services to printers. As the digital printing industry began to enter the mainstream in the 2000s, he realized that the image quality of many digital presses had become equal to that of offset. That presented an opportunity and he started a new company to capitalize on it.
In 2008, Nazarian made the trip to Düsseldorf for drupa, the printing industry’s massive quadrennial trade show, with the hope of identifying the right digital press. His research pointed him to Xeikon. “The Xeikon press was the only roll-fed digital press on the market,” said Nazarian. “It produces output that’s 20 inches wide and of nearly unlimited length; and it supports a remarkably wide range of substrates.”
So he purchased a Xeikon press and, soon afterward, a second.
Custom wall coverings
The idea to specialize in custom wall coverings came early the next year when he met an interior designer from Europe who would eventually become a business partner. Today, the wall coverings business, which is sold through trade channels, represents about half his business; and one Xeikon press is dedicated exclusively to that application.
Wall coverings have always had much more stringent requirements than standard document-based printing, one of which is images that are both big and clear. Advancements in photography have caught up, with cameras now delivering photos with resolutions as high as 100 megapixels, one contributor to the growing popularity of the application.
Workflow is an important factor in assuring a healthy profit margin for Melan, and automating the finishing process was a key element in achieving that goal. Investment from the company’s new European partner enabled Nazarian to architect a precision finishing process that streamlined his end-to-end workflow.
Since digital wallpaper was such a new application when Melan began producing it, no acceptable varnishes existed for the substrate. Nazarian worked with a local supplier to develop a UV-curable varnish that resists scratching and protects the substrate after installation.
“Ultimately though, the most critical element in ensuring our customers’ satisfaction is the quality of the image,” he said, “and the Xeikon press’s imaging is absolutely superb.”
He illustrated the image quality in this way: “We’ve produced wallpaper with images of cement blocks, and it looks so real that people actually go up and touch it to see if it’s real.”
Another Xeikon press handles the rest of the company’s work, much of which is in folding cartons and assorted documents. “Creativity is a must to differentiate our company from the competition, so we have an experienced full-time designer on staff to help clients create unique packaging that sells.”
In the interest of diversification, Melan supplies other applications like variable data runs for its customers. But ultimately, Nazarian believes Melan’s business advantage lies in specializing. “Carving out our niche has been the linchpin of our success. Our Xeikon presses enable applications that are high-value for our customers and high-profit for our company. I’d say that’s a win-win!”
Like many other print providers in our industry, Covid-19 took a bite out of Melan’s otherwise healthy business, but the company has been able to withstand the downturn and avoid laying off any of its employees. A number of their customers are still ordering ordering although activity has slowed down. In the meantime, Nazarian taking advantage of the slowdown to focus on the company’s marketing and tech infrastructure ensuring that Melan will be well-positioned when the pandemic subsides.
The word melan means ink in Armenian, Nazarian’s first language. Armenian speakers see the name of Melan, Inc. as “Ink Inc.”