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Wide F♀rmat

(November 2011) posted on Tue Oct 25, 2011

Five women changing the face of large-format printing.

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By Paula L. Yoho

Today, CRA Custom operates out of a 25,000-square-foot facility in downtown Los Angeles, where its 29 employees output everything from banners and billboards to building wraps, car wraps, signage, and window and wall graphics. Part of her success, Rad says, is her diverse client base, which has expanded since the early days of focusing on the film industry.

“We work with clients that are clothing companies, liquor companies, and many others,” Rad explains. “We started to tap into different markets instead of just concentrating on one.”

Her decision to focus on many small clients, rather than three or four large clients, is one philosophy Rad says sets her apart from her competitors.

“I’ve found that men seem to like the big clients, but I love to handle lots of little accounts,” she says. “They’re constant; they bring in business every day. Sure, they do require more TLC and there’s a little more work involved, but I see it as a safe option. When you have just three major accounts that are everything and that determines your day-to-day operations, and one goes out of business, you’re done. I don’t have to worry about that as much if I have 500 small clients.”

If hers is a uniquely female philosophy, then it is surely uncommon in the printing industry, which Rad has found to be male-centric.

“I was at an event and someone told me once, ‘You don’t look like a printer,’” she recalls. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and he said, ‘Well, you’re not 50 and bald.’ He also said ‘white,’ which kind of threw me off, but it is male-dominated and it is Anglo-dominated.”

For Rad, being a woman in a male-dominated industry has its challenges.

“Yes, I hit barriers all the time, and I think women in general do as well,” she explains. “But, to be honest with you, I think that’s my best asset. I come from somewhere different than a man, and for that reason, I bring a different perspective to a client’s job, which helps me add credibility and value to the fact that we’re not just a printer, we’re a unique company that has a lot to offer.”

She is quick to clarify, however, that being a woman hasn’t hindered her ability to attract and retain clients.