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We're breaking out the BIG, shiny, cyber megaphone. Broadcasting the good words about new BIG INK projects, the chatter on BIG INK and the chatter from BIG INK. Check out all the news that's fit to shout about, brag about and get excited about.

BIG INK Revamps Sota Clothing’s New Mobile Store, Launching at the Minnesota State Fair8.27.19

Mobile Marketing In A Vintage Trailer

After three years of attending the Minnesota State Fair in their iconic 1972 teal Chickadee camper, Sota Clothing of St. Louis Park Minnesota, was ready to increase their square footage and tweak the layout of their mobile marketing trailer. Since many fairgoers sought out their iconic camper as they strolled through the Fair’s Northwoods area, Sota Clothing decided the new store should keep a camping aesthetic, inspired by Minnesota’s Northwoods as well as the state’s Nordic roots.

Several years prior, BIG INK’s Mobile Marketing team revamped a 1964 Airstream Safari Trailer into a mobile retail space for a store called Trailer Trash. Sota contacted the Eagan based company about the possibility of renovating their new unit – a 1967 Fan Camper, which offered 6 additional feet of retail space.

“We were excited to take what we had learned using the prior trailer,” says Spencer Johnson, Sota Clothing owner. “After a few years of pop-ups we knew we wanted more space as well as design tweaks to create a better experience, for both customers and staff.”

BIG INK’s Mobile Marketing team jumped at the chance to work on another trailer. They provided design, project management, branding, as well as interior and exterior layouts. The finished trailer represents a cohesive, branded mobile store. Details include shelving that was designed specifically to hold Sota’s product bins, charging stations and a built in Yeti cooler for team members. The service counter provides storage specific to Sota’s shopping bags and multiple cash drawers. Johnson’s mother even got involved by recovering the original dinette in black and red buffalo check. The chosen interior lighting compliments the minimalist pine and black décor. The exterior features the same teal color as the previous camper and custom LED lighting.

“It was another fun project, that turned out beautifully. We think people will really be drawn to the design and appreciate the streamlined shopping,” notes BIG INK president Tom Trutna.

Sota Clothing’s trailer will be in the Northwoods section of the Minnesota State Fair August 22 – September 2, 2019.

BIG INK’s Nancy Whipple Receives Award7.25.19

Our employee, Nancy Whipple, recently received a 2019 Friends of Education award from Lakeville MN Area Schools. Each year, the district bestows the awards to honor outstanding individual contributions to the district. The awards recognize people whose service has been ongoing in one of four categories: distinguished service, education, business/community partnership, and volunteer service. Nancy, who has worked in our accounting department for six years, was honored for her volunteer service. An article in The Sun noted:

“For four years, Whipple has volunteered in starting the Lakeville South Band Booster organization. She’s helped keep track of finances for things like band trips, secured donations from area businesses to improve the band program, and has set up the booster program in a way that it can easily be handed off to the next group of parent leaders. She was cited for leaving the band program better than she found it.”

Nancy head shot

Our employee, Nancy in the Lakeville band room.

In Her Own Words

We asked Nancy a few questions about her outstanding service to the Lakeville band. Here’s what she had to say.

BIG INK: What got you involved with the Lakeville band? 
NW: I got involved with the Lakeville Band when a new director was hired. I wanted to see the band go in a different direction from where it was going when my son, Andrew, was a freshman.
BIG INK: What were some of the things or events the band got to do/get because of the booster club?
NW: Wow, that’s a great question. The booster club has made it possible for any individual to participate in band, by covering fees and/or instruments. The club also helps provide items that the band might need for summer parades or competitions, such as props or banners, which BIG INK has printed and often donated as well. The booster club has helped the band explore other opportunities such as visiting different states and countries. Since I have been involved, the band has traveled to Colorado and Ireland, where they performed in the St. Patrick’s parade! They’re practicing now for a performance in Hawaii in the Pearl Harbor Day parade.
BIG INK: Were you in band in high school? what did you play?
NW: I was not in band in high school so not sure where my children get their love of music. Both of my children are quite involved in it.
BIG INK: What was the most rewarding part for you?
NW: The most rewarding part is definitely the kids! I just love to see them perform and the passion that some of them have for music is just amazing to me.
BIG INK: What was the most fun part of being involved?
NW: The best part about being involved is the terrific friends that I have made. Some of my best friends have been involved in the boosters with me.
BIG INK: Anything else we should know…?
NW: I love to support the fine arts. I think it is a lost talent that only comes to life for our children from the exposure that we are able to provide.
One of BIG INK’s Core Values is “to genuinely care about clients, company and community.” We stay true to our core values by hiring people who align with them, as Nancy does. We are proud of her work within her community and offer a BIG congrats for the award.

Brunch and Learn Highlights Best of Experiential, Visual Graphics5.29.19

Our Customers Got to See, Touch and Feel Experiential Marketing Ideas

We recently shared our best experiential, visual graphics ideas with all our customers at our third annual Brunch and Learn. Ten different areas were set up throughout our building that highlighted different areas of our graphics expertise. They included: design, dye-sub custom fabrics, pre-press best practices, custom digital cutting, SEG fabric displays, custom designed rigid substrates, and the latest and greatest banner stand, trade show and trade show backdrop options. Other popular areas were our branded bike blender, that was serving up cream-cycle smoothies and of course, the brunch served in our lunchroom! We had clients waiting in their car in the parking lot, before the event opened, and we received many comments like, “Thanks for inviting us, it was great to see all you can do and get some new ideas. Plus, please pass on to the team what a positive and welcoming environment you all created!” Thank you for those who attended, and if you missed the event and want your sales person to share our best ideas, feel free to contact them for a private showing.

Brunch and Learn Hardware

Our Hardware area featuring the latest banner stands and backdrops.

BIG INK Contributes to Wide Format Impressions Magazine Article About Building Relationships12.12.18

We were recently featured in an article about the Art of Self Promotion. We like to approach it in a fun, creative way so we’re not just building business, but personal relationships as well. Here’s our feature:

The Business of Building Relationships

Eagan, Minn.-based Big Ink focuses on this aspect of self-promotion when it plans its events. Recently, the company began pedaling around to various clients in the area on something deemed the “Treat Trike.” Tom Trutna, president and founder of Big Ink, explains that he bought a Dutch cargo bike and converted it into an ice cream cooler two years ago. Big Ink wrapped the cargo bike in its branding, produced a custom umbrella and aprons to go along with it and began visiting prospects and clients with ice cream treats in tow. This is how the Dream Cycle event was born.

“We’ve found that it’s so difficult to get a hold of clients with either voicemail or email, that you end up behind this electronic wall,” he says. “This was an old fashioned way to get out and talk to customers. We weren’t selling anything specific, however we were showing them a custom wrapped vehicle, umbrella, aprons and social media frames, all of which we produced.”

The Dream Cycle serves as a way for Big Ink to interact with prospects and clients in a fun and relaxed environment.

“It ends up being a sales call without being a sales call,” Trutna explains. “It’s really just more of a reason to build a relationship and do something fun.”

Not only is the Dream Cycle an opportunity to promote Big Ink’s capabilities, he adds, but it also acts as inspiration and encouragement for prospects and clients to connect with Big Ink on more than just printing. The tagline of the Dream Cycle event is “Bigger Thinking,” which demonstrates Big Ink’s ability to conceptualize and come up with out-of-the-box ideas. 

Dream Cycle visit

Enjoying ice cream and fun!

Our VP of Operations, Monique Berg, One of Six Women in Print Awards11.01.18

We are proud to have our VP of Operations, Monique Berg included as one of the six 2018 Women in Print awarded by Big Picture Magazine. The article notes, “Monique’s passion to develop and mentor the next generation of business professionals shows her commitment to the printing industry. She has played a huge role with all of our interns this summer… Currently she is mentoring a single mother who has a passion for the printing industry and is helping her develop skills to pursue a role in management within the industry.”  Monique also noted, “The most surprising aspect of the printing industry has been the most helpful; it’s the fact that there is collaboration among competitors… A great example of this was during the Super Bowl. We worked with a larger, out-of-state printer, who needed help with printing, sewing, delivery, and installation. The collaboration created a stronger team, provided faster turns, and ultimately met all the needs and deadlines of the clients.” Her work and management ethics align perfectly with our Core 4 Values: Genuinely care, Consistently get great results, Commit to constant improvement and Create delight. A BIG congratulations to Monique!

Monique Headshot

Our Future NASA Engineer: Meet Carley7.30.18

Meet Carley: Current BIG INK Employee of 3 years

Carley has been a BIG INK employee for three summers and is moving on to something BIGGER, she has been accepted into a competitive program at NASA. We thought we’d celebrate her new endeavor by getting the inside scoop on her path at NASA and what her dreams are for the future.

From Dream to Realty

Carley has always wanted to work at NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for her entire life-well kind of. She said it was always a “dream job” that seemed too far fetched and larger than life. Whenever asked she would always say she’d “love to work there” but in a joking way because she never thought it would happen. Carley has loved space since she was a young girl. Carley and her dad spent many nights outside watching the stars, meteor showers, and satellites. She also loves to work with her hands and is in the engineering program at college.

What She Will Be Doing at NASA

The program at NASA that Carley was accepted into is called the Pathways Program. Basically it’s a way to start working at NASA, “building your path there” until you can work there full time. Pathways is a part time program where she will work in Houston for a semester and then go back to school at Purdue for another semester. Carley will do this rotation style for three years and once she is graduated she will (hopefully) start working there full time. She does not know what she is doing there yet, as they keep the interns in the dark until a few weeks before the program starts. She knows there are many people admitted into the Pathways program and that she is specifically in the aerospace department. Carley will start August 20th and is leaving Minnesota around the 16th.

Hopes for the Future

She is looking forward to getting the chance to work in the industry that she has been working toward her entire life. Carley is excited to be working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston especially because it’s the human spaceflight center. When asked if she has a dream job there she said she doesn’t know quite yet! She would love to one day be a part of the human spaceflight projects, particularly any project(s) going to Mars. Ideally she wants to be a part of the designing and testing aspects.

Fun Facts

Carley would not go to Mars. Her grandma said she is not allowed because she wants her to come home (as of right now Mars is a one way ticket). She would definitely take a trip up to the space station. When asked who she looks up to she said it would have to be Sally Ride, the first woman who went to space.

We wish Carley the best and can’t wait to see what her future holds!

BIG Dream Cycle Summer Tour7.19.18

Our BIG Dream Cycle Summer Tour

This entire summer we have been making pit stops all around the Twin Cities to various clients with our tricked out treat trike. Here at BIG INK we always embrace bigger thinking, especially when it comes to branding. We also love to create delight for our customers and that’s where the Dream Cycle tour was born.

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Our Dream Cycle tour has been a huge hit this summer and an amazing way to get together with our customers! Who doesn’t love ice cream and an excuse to get out of the office. Our custom designed and wrapped treat trike has been the photo opportunity of the summer. We’ve also found out that people just love to ride it around like they are a kid again.

Hit BIG INK Up Now Before the Tour is Over

Summer is halfway through and we would love to take the trike on the road and pedal some treats to you and your team. Please contact your sales rep if you want some delicious treats and BIG INK hospitality brought to your office.

BIG INK Supports the Next Generation6.28.18

BIG INK Gives Back to the Future Generation

We enjoy giving back to the community and supporting the next generation of BIG thinkers. Recently, we provided display signage for an FTC, FIRST Tech Challenge team, called The Green Girls. FTC is operated like a sport and teams design, build, program and operate robots to overcome an assigned challenge. They then compete in head-to-head competitions, with the winners advancing on. This year The Green Girls had their best season yet, advancing to the World Tournament in Detroit.

Background on The Green Girls

The team consists of seven eleventh grade girls (Zoe, Corinn, Erica, Shelly, Claire, Grace and Rebecca), who have been together for nine years. They started in second grade in an FLL, FIRST Lego League, tournament and after three years, moved up to FTC. When asked about nerves, they say they still got nervous before judging, but deep breaths and group “power poses” calm their nerves. They credit their success to the years they’ve worked together as a team. They all have a passion for the competition and consistently put in the hard work needed throughout the nearly year round season. The team realizes that FIRST Tech Challenge has had a large impact on their lives. It will continue to influence their futures, robotics has not only increased their love for science but given them many life skills as well. Zoe noted, “Our motto is FIRST isn’t about where it takes you, but what it makes you.”

BRAVO to this inspiring group of young women!

Meet Eric Linnell, A Published Author and a BIG INK Employee6.11.18

Meet Eric Linnell!  He is a published author, father of 3 and BIG INK employee of 6 years.

Summer is finally in full swing here in Minnesota and we’d like to suggest a good book for summer reading over these next few warm months. Eric, a BIG INK employee, recently published his second novel, This Side of Zero. We wanted to get the inside scoop about him as an author, find out if a third book is on the way and what he loves about the writing process. Here’s what we learned about Eric!

The Interview

BIG INK: Did you always want to be a writer?

Eric: Yes. My favorite class in school was creative writing and it was the only one I ever did well in.

BIG INK: Was it a different experience writing this recent novel This Side of Zero, over your first novel, Reflex Blue?

Eric: Yes it was completely different! The first book took me over 10 years to write. My first idea was to have the storyline be seen on the big screen and not read. I sent out the movie script to a few places and luckily for me it was denied. It was only after that, that I decided to make it a novel. Turning it into a novel let me dive deeper into the characters than I ever could have on screen. The second book took two years to write which I am surprised I did with a wife, two toddlers and a baby on the way. It was a lot of late nights and quickly jotted down notes that made This Side of Zero. I only use word docs for the books. This one I had 47 different chapters in 47 different word docs. From there it was like a puzzle, moving chapters around until they fit perfectly.

BIG INK: Do you already have a third book in the works?

Eric: No, I don’t know when that will happen. I didn’t know for this one, it just started up one day and I am also still working on selling and promoting this novel. 

BIG INK: What do you love about writing/storytelling?

Eric: I love getting lost in the creative flow and losing track of time. I’ve always loved reading because I can get so lost in a book. My favorite authors are Ron McLarty, Tom Perrotta and most recently, Gillian Flynn the author who wrote Gone Girl. My favorite book of all time is hands down, The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. 

Photos From the Book Signing Held at BIG INK

We at BIG INK couldn’t be prouder! Our employees are always accomplishing great things both in and out of our office. Congrats Eric! If your in the market for a new book go check out, This Side of Zero.

Link to This Side of Zero




Custom Vehicle Wraps and Space Monkeys5.15.18

Space Monkeys and Custom Vehicle Wraps

Did you know we print and install custom vehicle wraps? Or that we have a branded delivery van? Either way, check out this in-house produced video (did you know we offer design help and video production?) to watch the Bigger Thinking van transformation, which went from football to our Bigger Thinking space monkey (aka Sketchy).