Creating Graphics that POP with S2K


President Dan Pulos attributes the company's success to its phenomenal team of employees who don't need micromanaging.

With its state-of-the-art production equipment, national field-service network, and two strategically located print facilities, S2K Graphics in Chatsworth, California, serves clients coast-to-coast by offering low distribution costs, world class print quality, fast and on-time delivery, and what it boasts as an “unwavering” commitment to merchandising success.

The company, founded in 1989 as Signs 2000, is a nationally-recognized printer in point-of-purchase (POP) execution services, design, manufacture, and distribution of a broad array of innovative and disruptive color-matched POP elements. Acquired by FRANKE Company in 2008, its mission is nothing less than to transform its clients’ marketing and merchandising strategies.

S2K, which celebrated its 28th anniversary on October 20, 2017, provides a variety of innovative, patented point-of-purchase products, ranging from 3M floor graphics and countertop displays to kiosks, standees, readerboard and window graphics, and more. Annual sales are between $10 million and $15 million.

“Our products are designed to give our clients an increased return on investment, using eye-catching color graphics and displays that provide adequate coverage at key areas of a store’s location,” explained founder and president Dan Pulos. Other specialties include wide-format printing, field surveys, and installations.

The majority of its clients are multi-site retailers with a strong focus on quick-service restaurants, including both chains and their beverage partners. It has sales representation across the country, with production facilities in Los Angeles and Nashville. Said Pulos, “We are always looking to expand our sales and production territories.” Indeed, he added, business grew in 2017 “along with the economy.”

Good people

S2K’s corporate culture has been designed to be conducive to individual achievement. “I give my employees great latitude to get their work done within the behavioral guidelines of the company,” noted Pulos. “I don’t micromanage, and I believe most of my employees do their individual jobs much better than I ever could. I trust their experience and expertise—it’s precisely why they have the positions they do.”

Given his heavy travel schedule, Pulos explained, he doesn’t have the time to mentor and develop employees, nor does he particularly enjoy teaching. “Therefore, I require that my direct reports bring a lot to the table individually. With this setup and expectation, I can then coordinate my team’s efforts collectively into a win for the company and, most importantly, the client.”

Pulos says he has always focused on surrounding himself with good people, and to providing the opportunity and resources for them to get their work done efficiently. “There is no substitute for talented people taking charge of their functional areas and then working in concert with each other for the company’s collective good. I believe a good leader should recognize what individuals are needed in developing a team, and in what each individual needs in order to succeed.”

At S2K Graphics, Pulos has developed a 45-member team that he praises as having real depth, “and I believe this is something many of my competitors don’t have. Focused leadership, coupled with a skilled and valued team, makes a difference.”

R-N-B debuts

The first half of 2017 was great, Pulos reported, with S2K Graphics earning recognition from Creative magazine as a Top 50 POP company, as well as by being selected as the recipient of the Best in Category award for POP Materials at the Print Excellence awards hosted by PIASC. “Q3 has been a little bit softer than expected,” he noted, “although we did pick up a new QSR account that we’re extremely excited about.”

Earlier this year, S2K outfitted its Tennessee facility with two Jeti Titan HS UV flatbed printers from Agfa Graphics. They replaced two older devices with the goal of allowing the company to provide customers with what Pulos describes as a “higher-quality” experience from product manufacturing to delivery time. “In 2018, we expect to add three replacement wide-format printers to continue our quest for greater capacity and print quality.”

Also during 2017, the company inked an exclusive partnership with Andy’s Frozen Custard. The chain currently operates 50 stores, and is rapidly expanding. S2K Graphics will be responsible for all new store point-of-purchase merchandising, and in September helped Andy’s management with the opening of three new stores.

For the year ahead, Pulos says he and his colleagues would like to see their company diversify its client base “and work toward creating a more viable long-term business model.” S2K’s newest product, R-N-B (repositionable, no bubbles), is a special graphic film product that is viewed as revolutionary in its ease of use and in the finished look.

“It’s a patent-pending exclusive product offering found only through S2K Graphics that was formulated to combat typical window graphic installation,” Pulos explained. “Whereas traditional window graphics often require two people to properly install them, R-N-B was developed so that retailers need not rely on professional or experienced installation teams to properly apply oversized promotional graphics.” The new window graphic material became available in August.

Pulos said that the product has been a dream of his for many years. “I’ve had the idea for about five years now, and have been actively searching for a graphic film that would do what I had in mind. After extensive research, it was determined that the product didn’t exist, so I created my own special formulation, which is custom made for us and only available through S2K Graphics.”

His goal was to make window graphic installation fun. “I wanted employees to fight over who gets to install the new graphics every time a new set arrives at the store. I believe we’ve achieved that with R-N-B.” R-N-B is also very forgiving, with a built-in stiffness that allows a single person to apply, reposition and reapply graphics up to 5-foot-high without damaging the decals. Added Pulos, “I’m really proud of this product.”

Additionally, the product can be re-used if removed within 30 days of initial installation and properly stored for future re-use. The features increase the percentage of correct installations a multi-site retailer should expect in the field. R-N-B prints are priced comparably to view-thru films, providing retailers with a high return on investment in both labor savings and field results.

Concentrate effort

S2K Graphics’ management remains committed not only to meeting and exceeding client success, but to sustainability. As the company makes clear to potential customers, it performs and manages its daily operations with the environment in mind. For instance, it only produces products and uses raw materials that are sustainably sourced. It ensures that its manufacturing processes are carried out in a sustainable way.

The company also uses a web-to-print workflow system, which allows its designers to work directly with customers to edit the designs and layouts of each project. It also includes automatized email notifications when proofs are ready to view, when comments are communicated, when revisions need to be made, and when approvals are received. Hence, no printed documents are necessary.

S2K has made what Pulos characterizes as a “concentrated effort” to grow the field-service part of its business. “We excel at going out into the field, taking surveys for multi-site retailers, analyzing the data, and making recommendations to help grow a business.”

Its patented POP Placement Program is the company’s signature product for multi-site retailers. It shows them exactly where to place every piece of POP at each location to maximize sales results. The program is currently in operation at more than 5,000 restaurants today. “On the installation side, we installed graphics at more than 7,000 fast-food restaurants in the second quarter, which was quite an accomplishment for our team.”

Indeed, it is a team for whom accomplishment has become business as usual.

S2K Graphics Signs on as Exclusive POP Partner for Andy’s Frozen Custard

S2K Graphics was recently selected by Andy’s Frozen Custard as the chain’s exclusive POP partner as the franchise continues to expand into new regions.

Andy’s Frozen Custard—the largest privately owned frozen-custard-only QSR-plus in the country—recently opened its 55th store and plans on opening one to two stores per month over the course of the next year. The popular custard chain is well known for providing a quality product, excellent customer service and community involvement. Most importantly, the franchise is committed to making sure that its valued customers have the same memories and experiences no matter which location they attend.

“We were looking for a communicative partner who could not only keep up with our demand as a rapidly growing company, but also help us with both short- and long-term needs,” said Stevie Stryker, southern region marketing specialist for Andy’s Frozen Custard. “For us it was important to choose a company that could not only provide us POP materials that stay true to our standard signage but also offer us flexibility and innovative options as we continue to grow. We’re thrilled to be working with S2K Graphics as they help us convey our messaging throughout our stores.”

Stryker reached out to S2K Graphics after research led her to a press release announcing S2K Graphics’ inclusion in Creative Magazine’s “Top 50 POP Companies” list. After the initial call—in which S2K Graphics shared information about its quality, affordability and expertise with large national chains—S2K Graphics sent Andy’s Frozen Custard a sample poster and lawn sign, and paperwork was signed.

“The quality of our products ultimately brought this exciting partnership to fruition,” said Dan Pulos, founder and president of S2K Graphics. “We’re so pleased to begin this journey with Andy’s Frozen Custard, outfitting their new stores with eye-catching POP elements to communicate their seasonal promotional messages. On a related note, the last time I was in Nashville to visit our production facility, I traveled an hour outside of the city to a local Andy’s Frozen Custard and I have to say it was hands down the best dessert I’d had all year.  I’m a big fan!”

In September, S2K Graphics shipped out its first batch of POP to the chain, aiding them in the opening of three new locations. 

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S2K Graphics Successfully Renews G7 Master Certification

S2K Graphics, an affiliate of Franke Group and a nationally recognized leader in point-of-purchase (P.O.P.) merchandising, has successfully renewed its G7 Master certification, having first obtained the certification in 2011. A G7 certification is an internationally recognized methodology for calibrating printing presses and proofing systems, and renewal is possible every two years after the initial certification is recognized.

In order to receive the G7 Master certification, printers must demonstrate skilled, tested and proven leadership in print production; show knowledge of the fields of color management, process and quality control; and work to reduce costs, improve brand consistency and have a quick turn-around time.

“As a G7 Master Facility, we have developed process control systems that enable us to deliver color accurate products,” said Philip Garcia, director of operations for S2K Graphics. “We can efficiently manage color across many different printing platforms at multiple printing facilities within our organization. The biggest factor in the printing industry is being able to match, with accuracy, colors for our clients, and this certification informs our clients that we are able to do so.”

The certification is an acknowledgement and testament to the facility’s ability to calibrate color accuracy, as was most recently demonstrated through the press check process S2K Graphics provided for two major automotive companies, Kia and Mitsubishi. The press check process involves sending clients contract proofs to demonstrate the ability to match the clients’ colors. Both automotive companies signed off on the first round of articles sent for color approval.

“S2K's color management systems combined with G7 certification produce superior color for our clients,” said Leah Barash, senior account executive at S2K Graphics. “This has resulted in a fast and effective press check experience and, in most cases, first-round color approvals. Our clients continue to choose to work with S2K for these reasons as well as because of our innovative product line and customer service excellence.”

The benefits S2K Graphics clients receive when working with a G7-certified printer include the assurance of receiving a high-quality end product and accurate, brand consistency.

S2K Graphics Receives Industry Recognition for Fifth Consecutive Year


S2K Graphics, a division of The Franke Group, was nationally recognized for the fifth consecutive year as a “Top 50 P.O.P. Company” by Creative Magazine, an outlet targeted to sales and marketing executives. The publication has stated that the Top 50 P.O.P. list in its April/May issue is its most important feature of the year.

In order to qualify for the honor, S2K Graphics submitted its company profile, total number of employees and its 2016 P.O.P. sales volume for consideration. Additionally, the manufacturing company, which has provided Fortune 100 companies with an array of unique P.O.P. merchandizing elements, proved its market share through a corporate background check, while demonstrating that the company meets or exceeds the publication’s criteria to be considered.

“We are extremely honored to be included in the Creative Magazine’s 2016 Top 50 P.O.P. Companies for the fifth year in a row,” said Dan Pulos, VP and managing director of S2K Graphics. “It is gratifying to see our products, such as our Window Wraps, Readerboard Graphics, 3-D designs and our P.O.P. Placement Program resonate so powerfully with our customers. Besides our sales accomplishment from last year, we are excited about our new P.O.P. merchandising innovations, the rest of 2017, and what’s to come.”

S2K Graphics produces a variety of P.O.P. displays for national accounts, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper and other market-leading brands, and is one of thirteen California companies recognized in Creative Magazine’s Top 50 list this year.

With plants in Los Angeles, California and La Vergne, Tennessee, as well as a sales presence in New York, Chicago, Nashville and San Francisco, S2K Graphics continues to chart new territory in its P.O.P. research and development.