NightHawk production manager Joe Pariera demonstrates the company's grand format printer that can print on almost any surface. The five-year-old Medford business has grown rapidly and now counts companies such as Nike and Harry & David among its clients. - Jim Craven

NightHawk goes after printing niche

MEDFORD — Ever seen Nike ads featuring Lance Armstrong's shoes or pondered buying chocolates at Harry & David's store after peering at the bigger-than-life images of the sweets?

Those marketing images were the handiwork of NightHawk, a five-year-old Medford graphics firm that's already producing annual revenues of $1 million.

Co-founder Kevin Shahalami said attention to detail has boosted the company's position in the market.

"We work with a company's digital assets — its logos and corporate identity," said Shahalami. "We make sure it's reproduced across any media to their specifications. We don't want Lithia blue becoming Lithia purple. We take a picture of a chocolate, clean it up and enhance it — make it delectable and delicious. We have ways of making people and food look really good."

The company said Monday it was shortening its name from NightHawk Graphics as it steps up marketing of integrated communications and digital resource management services.

"We identified an emerging niche and we're moving aggressively to claim it," said Charlie McHenry, consulting vice president of marketing.

In essence, NightHawk's pitch to corporate clients is that it can reduce the number of steps a company has to take on marketing projects.

"There is a lot of potential for growth," McHenry says. "Cost savings, increased productivity and efficiencies are a powerful message at a time like this with economic uncertainty. The marketplace is responsive; when everyone is scurrying to find ways to be efficient, while cutting cost, we're getting a lot more business."

NightHawk started as a film supplier for local print shops, but morphed into a business focused on helping customers in a digitally driven age.

"The technology gap has turned into a chasm for a lot of people," Shahalami says. "The newer software and newer technology make it easier to do things, but it has taken away the skills and knowledge required of doing good prints and color management."

The company hopes to have a physical presence in Portland and San Francisco within five years.

"We want to do this right," Shahalami says. "Culture and technology are important, you can't just (grow) through acquisition. You can't just buy a company, walk in and say we're going to change the culture and training."

Shahalami, 41, and his wife, Fawnda Shahalami, 44, sold their printing operation in Puerto Rico and moved to Rogue River, where she grew up, in 1999. Kevin Shahalami went to work for CDS Publishing, eventually rising to prepress and technology manager, and the couple began planning a new venture.

The moonlighting operation began in the Shahalamis' basement. She's the president, in charge of operations and customer service; he's the visionary and technical mastermind.

The couple met in the Bay Area, where she trained horses at Golden Gate Fields and was a distribution manager for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Be it coffee mugs, banners, posters, pencils, key chains or boat oars, NightHawk has the capability to print a client's message.

"We can handle the entire campaign and they know they don't have to sweat the details," Fawnda Shahalami says. "We've got a promotional team that wraps around the project and gets it done."

The staff has grown to 14, including photographer Greg DeBre, a veteran commercial photographer who moved from Miami.

"Our original goal was to service a lot of local printers, artists, ad agencies and larger corporations," Kevin Shahalami says. "We were doing image enhancements, photo output and art reproduction."

Keeping step with ever-changing client needs keeps NightHawk from settling in its ways. Even geography and climate come into play.

Lithia Motors, the Medford auto retailer with stores throughout the West, needed signs capable of withstanding 140-degrees in Texas and icy Alaska temperatures. NightHawk turned to Lexan polycarbonate, a plastic that combines strength, flame resistance and clarity.

"We can print right to it," Kevin Shahalami says. "In the past, all you could do was print to another surface and mount to it."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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