The printing business has changed dramatically since Jimmy Sun founded Sunrise Digital in 1988. Rather than let these changes overwhelm the business, Sunrise evolves to respond to technology and retail trends.

“I think we’re very innovative at adopting to change,” Sun says. “Instead of just hanging on to what we’re doing, we change with our customer and develop solutions to satisfy their demands.”

The Chicago-based company began as a neighborhood printer producing business cards and letterheads, changing gears in the early 1990s to become a pre-press company after the introduction of desktop publishing software. The late 1990s found the company making a full transition into digital printing. Sunrise Digital today offers a number of services including indigo printing, CNC cutting, digital color envelopes and direct mail fulfillment.

Sunrise Digital is taking the latest step in its evolution, one that moves it from the service realm into the worlds of retail and e-commerce. The company this year established iGear Unlimited, which offers custom iPad and iPhone covers. The division’s website, www.igearunlimited.com, allows customers to upload their own images to be used on phone or tablet skins.

The new division is prompting Sunrise to make a change to its other products by offering printing packages and groupings of products such as banners, flyers and direct mail pieces to a set number of specifications instead of purely on-demand printing.

“In the time we’ve been in business, we’ve been doing printing as more a custom business,” Sun says. “Our new model now is to sell printing as preconfigured products.”

The Next Step

Sunrise Digital is working to take iGear Unlimited to the next level. The company is preparing a new website it expects to launch in the next few months.

But before it unveils the site, the company is developing a new version of a proprietary business management software package it developed. The software manages almost all of Sunrise’s key functions including its supply chain, inventory, payroll and finances.

The new software package is expected to greatly enhance Sunrise Digital’s capabilities to handle and process orders. It will automate customer notification, shipping and other functions that the company currently handles manually. The system also will integrate customer relationship management functions and more efficiently process special promotional offers.

Keeping Promises

Sunrise and the iGear Unlimited division are not alone in their respective marketplaces, but Sun says his company’s in-house manufacturing capabilities and experienced personnel set it apart. “A lot of sites that sell things like this are simply companies that buy their printing from elsewhere,” Sun says. “As a direct manufacturer, we have better control in terms of quality and consistency.”

Sun, a native of China, says his understanding of that country’s culture and language also helps the company when it comes to sourcing, as many of the supplies it uses are manufactured there. Sun and his family members regularly visit Chinese factories and offer input to suppliers, he notes.

Sunrise Digital’s internal strengths include a staff of 20 employees, several of whom have been there for 15 years or more. “Because we’ve been in business for so long, we understand how important it is for customers to get what they want,” Sun says. “Our business is based on very fast-paced production, and we never fail to keep the promises we make.”

The company is a G7-certified Master Printer and a certified minority business enterprise by the Chicago Minority Business Development Council and the National Minority Supplier Development Council. Sunrise also is on Inc. magazine’s list as one of the “top 5,000 fastest-growing private companies.”