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Published: Tuesday, 9/7/2010

Toledo firm takes game to new fields

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Starting with an idea SFC Graphics' Hugh Benning floated to University of Toledo officials a few years ago, the Toledo printing company's Varsity 101 division is gaining momentum.

And Varsity 101 has moved beyond creating oversized vinyl graphic murals for athletic complexes at universities and high schools, said Mr. Benning, national sales manager and vice president of campus programs for Varsity 101.

A project for Clay High School in Oregon rolls off the line at SFC Graphics. Some schools use the murals to inspire students A project for Clay High School in Oregon rolls off the line at SFC Graphics. Some schools use the murals to inspire students
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

At Wayne State University, for example, Varsity 101 graphics incorporate photos and images from engineering projects to help recruit students. When built, the new Lake High School is expected to have a company mural depicting the former building's history, including the tornado that destroyed it on June 5.

Central Catholic High School's library, meanwhile, has a graphic display highlighting the moon rock donated by Eugene "Gene" Kranz. The 1951 Central Catholic graduate and former National Aeronautics and Space Administration flight director was made famous by actor Ed Harris' portrayal of him in the film Apollo 13.

The hope is to inspire students with examples of what others have done, both academically and athletically, Mr. Benning said.

"If we can excite one kid because of the graphics, it can change the world," he said.

Founded in 1902, SFC Graphics has more than 40 employees, including five devoted to Varsity 101. Varsity 101 makes up just 5 percent to 10 percent of SFC Graphics' revenue, but it has done work with schools in 11 states and received inquiries from many more, said Eric Crockett, director of business development at SFC Graphics.

Bowling Green State University recently hired Varsity 101 to design vinyl self-adhesive murals for the back of its new baseball dugouts, which cost about $14,000 of the $155,000 project.

Both signs are visible from nearby roads, with one paying tribute to project donors and the team's history while the other highlights successful players, said James Elsasser, associate athletic director for internal affairs at BGSU.

"We wanted to add some color, some splash," Mr. Elsasser said.

The custom graphic murals are quicker and cost less than typical methods, Mr. Crockett said. Schools also can phase in projects, so different athletic complexes and other buildings coordinate, he said.

Other projects the division has done locally include the stadium pressbox at Whitmer High School, the athletic Hall of Fame wall at Monroe High School, and a motivational wall in St. Francis de Sales High School.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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