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Partnering for Success in a Digital World: DPI Direct and the Future of Customized Production

DPI_Direct_Building_Gelato Partner
NewsNov 2 2023

As a major player in the printing industry, Sam Mousavi, president of DPI Direct, shares his insights on the benefits of local production, the future of print, and how their partnership with Gelato, the world’s largest network for production on demand, has empowered the company to thrive in the evolving world of print and ecommerce.

“Originally, I was just planning to be an investor in DPI Direct. But when I became more involved, I saw the tremendous opportunity emerging digital technologies would bring to the space,” said Mousavi. “Having a passion for tech, I had a clear vision for spearheading the industry’s shift to digital and ecommerce.”

Revitalizing print and increasing revenue through embracing technology

DPI Direct is headquartered in Poway, California, nestled  in San Diego County. When Sam Mousavi, an engineer by trade,  launched the company in 2003, annual revenue was hovering around $300,000. Fast forward to 2023, and that number has increased to $23 million. Mousavi attributes the growth to embracing technology and digital orders.

In 2006, Mousavi invested in an  HP Indigo, one of the first digital presses that came to market. The only machine of its kind in the area, DPI Direct was able to deliver high-quality prints and lower minimums and lower costs for its customers. Mousavi could see the momentum and enthusiasm in his customer base. While print shops around him were flopping, DPI Direct was growing, supported by new digital print technologies. 

A few years later, Mousavi attended an HP conference. There, he was introduced to Gelato. He was excited about the platform, the concept of production-on-demand, and the like-minded philosophies around embracing digitization to transform a dinosaur of an industry like print. 

“I thought Gelato was extremely unique. I figured, let’s try it. The worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work,” said Mousavi. “Lucky for me, it worked.”

Embracing local production on demand and a new ecommerce market 

DPI has been a Gelato partner for almost a decade. Mousavi emphasizes the importance of digital printing and on-demand production to his business model. He attributes much of his significant growth to embracing the quantity of digital orders often from ecommerce sellers. 

“With Gelato, we gain access to orders from around the world – there’s a huge influx in the amount of orders,” said Mousavi. “Printers need to embrace this way of operating as it’s better for your business’s bottom line and it's the future.”

When Mousavi took over DPI Direct, there were three employees. Today, the company employs more than 130 team members – all who are local to DPI Direct facilities. Additionally, its locations are all strategically located near shipping hubs which further reduces transportation-related emissions and costs.

“Sustainability is not only what we want, but what today’s consumers demand. With on-demand, you’re printing what’s needed, where it is needed. You’re rarely overprinting. That means, there’s significantly less waste.”

Tapping into a new and global market while increasing efficiency 

Approximately 15-20% of DPI Direct’s work comes through Gelato, allowing the company to tap into a global customer base and expand their reach.

While DPI Direct currently leverages Gelato’s partner technology for Gelato-specific orders, Mousavi foresees the Gelato software replacing their current workflow – enabling even greater efficiency and savings for DPI and its customers. 

Many printers face significant challenges, including high procurement costs, complex logistics, and fragmented workflows. 

“Being a part of Gelato’s network gives us access to machine-agnostic software, shipping and supplier relationships,” says Mousavi. “Our partnership helps optimize workflows, delivery and procurement, which makes quality and prices even better for our customers - and for our business.”

About Gelato

Gelato enables local, on-demand production on a global scale through the world’s largest network for production on demand. Gelato produces personalized products in 32 countries, enabling creators and ecommerce sellers to scale their business and reach customers faster while reducing waste, costs, and carbon emissions. By doing so, they are changing the game, making it possible for small ideas to grow and make an impact. For both people and the planet.

Gelato was founded by CEO Henrik Müller-Hansen in 2007 and consists of the Gelato platform and the consumer brand Optimalprint. The company has offices in Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Lahore, London, Madrid, Mumbai, Nashville, Ontario, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm and Tallinn. Gelato’s headquarters are located in Oslo, Norway.

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