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Dustin Mosbeck works on the flatbed printer at Solid Signs in south Fargo, N.D. David Samson/Forum News Service

Fargo furniture manufacturer ventures into printing work

FARGO, N.D. - Solid Comfort, a Fargo-based manufacturer of hotel furniture since 1985, has embarked on a new venture with roots in the hospitality industry.

A branch of the company, doing business as Solid Signs and Designs, prints patterns, designs, photos and more on wood, metal and a number of other materials through the use of a flatbed digital printer.

The endeavor started six years ago when a Marriott hotel brand spec called for a headboard with a pattern of black lines across it.

Vice President Ryan Larkin said they started by screen printing the lines on, but the process was expensive and time consuming, so they invested in a flatbed printer.

When they needed to upgrade two years ago, Larkin attended a printer trade show where he learned about markets for other print products.

He came home and began printing on everything he could get his hands on, from cellphone and iPad covers to light fixture covers and more.

Today, about 50 percent of the work they do is for the hotel industry.

"We're starting to see more and more hotels with artwork built right into the furniture," Larkin said.

For example, they print designs and images onto headboard and desk pieces before they are assembled. Many franchises also supply them images to print onto metal or wood veneer to hang on the walls.

Outside the hospitality industry, one of their biggest clients is Scheels All Sports. Solid Signs has a deal with the Licensing Resource Group to produce North Dakota State University products and signs that are sold at Scheels.

One of the advantages of the business being an offshoot of Solid Comfort is that the company already owned equipment such as a router that enables them to cut out different shapes, like the Bison logo.

Republic National Distribution is another big customer for the business. They print signs for Bacardi and other brands for the alcohol distributor that are hung in bars.

Solid Signs also has produced some unique pieces for entertainers who performed in the Fargodome.

When Kris Packer, director of sales and marketing for the Fargodome, wanted to provide gifts for the entertainers, she turned to Solid Signs for help. They have printed photos on the Fargodome pinwheel design for groups such as Lady Antebellum and recently made a custom bowtie piece for Justin Timberlake.

Not all of their business is commercial, though. They also print custom photos on wood for the public. Interested customers can email them a jpg or pdf of a good-resolution photo that they will print directly onto one of 10 different sizes of maple veneer.

"You can print your image right to it. What's neat is that every print is unique because the wood grain is going to be different," Larkin said.

Readers can reach Wieck at (701) 241-5501.