Michael Garcia founded OAI, in January 1989, to provide hand-painted signs, billboards and blank banners to companies in the Tampa Bay and state of Florida area. Garcia formed the company with a $5,000 credit card in a 200 square foot room. A short time later, he secured a contract with Seagram's Southern Division, which had been located in Tampa, to create banners. He hired Production Manager Greg Schopmeyer, moved operations into a 2,000 square foot facility, and began creating hundreds of blank banners to ship statewide.
In 1993, Garcia was hand-painting billboards for the Florida Lottery. Like his competitors, he was hand painting on vinyl material. Vinyl material would not accept enamel paint, however, causing the industry to utilize a "barrier" coating which had to be applied by the painter and wasn't very effective. He knew from his background with banners that you could paint on another material, made by one of his suppliers and coated to accept enamel paint directly. However, this material was too light and, for that reason, would not work with a billboard application. He went to his banner material manufacturer and convinced them to make this enamel receptive material heavy enough for billboards. What happened set the industry standard for today's billboards: the material at 13 ounces, the standard for billboards at that time, was too heavy to meet UPS' shipping restrictions at the time - 75lbs. Garcia asked them to go a little lighter on the weight - 12.5 ounces. This request set the standard for the industry and is still used today.
Soon, customers didn't want only blank banners but also wanted them completed by OAI. The company began hand painting for its customers and moved into an 8,000 square foot facility. Hand painting was very expensive and OAI had to employ skilled artists to create the billboards. A sign with a picture would take 3 days to print; today, with one of OAI's advanced printers, it takes 20 minutes. In the years that followed, new technology was developed and OAI quickly embraced it.
The overriding priority at OAI is a strong commitment to quality and the company only uses the industry's most advanced digital imaging equipment. Since Garcia formed the company, he has invested more than $5 million in technology and equipment upgrades.
Now the largest large-format printer in the Southeast and known throughout the nation, OAI specializes in out-of-home advertising. Its 40,000 sq. ft. facility is open 24 hours per day and houses a variety of digital and screenprinting machines including the most state-of-the-art technology in the digital imaging industry. OAI's production staff uses one of the world's largest ink-jet printers to create multi-media using a vast assortment of substrates.
Out-of-home advertising communicates to an audience on the go - usually at a point-of-purchase or in often-slow transit. OAI produces dynamic, high-resolution images for the out-of-home and point-of-purchase advertising industries. Their work can be seen in such recognizable venues as Raymond James Stadium and Tropicana Field. OAI has also been the selected large format printer for projects for the NFL Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, the Florida Lottery, Publix, GES, CBS Outdoor, just to name a few.