Paul Baron sells a device that can print art or signs on a wide variety of vertical surfaces. Each sale, he says, helps someone else to create their own business.
“We create business opportunities for people,” says the Wilmington resident who started The Wall Printer company in 2019. “This is a technology for people who want to establish themselves and be the wall printer in their own communities or territories. They create their own identities, their own markets.”
The machine can take any existing digital image and then print it on almost any type of vertical surface, such as a wall or window. A 5 by 8 foot print can be done in about two hours with about $20 worth of ink, he says. A customer, such as a restaurant owner, would pay about $800 for the finished product, he says.
“It’s a desktop printer on steroids” is how Baron describes the wall printer. “When people see it in operation, it gets a lot of attention.”
Baron admits a majority of those calling his Wilmington office about the machine are put off by its cost: about $30,000. It’s for business people, not hobbyists, he says. “It’s not a desktop printer. It’s a commercial quality machine.”
When he started his company, he wanted to sell 100 of the machines by year four. He has now sold 125 machines since selling his first one in August 2020. He wants to have sold 250 machines by year five, and 1,000 by year 10.
His customers include entrepreneurs, artists and those already in a painting, photography or related business who see his device as a way to grow.
Baron, now 71, came out of retirement to start The Wall Printer. He says he was enjoying life and either swimming or playing tennis four days a week after selling a communications software company and retiring.
A former business associate introduced him to a similar wall printer being manufactured in Germany. He was fascinated by it, he says. He started doing his homework and found that only five companies worldwide make wall printers, none of them located in North America. He entered into business with a Chinese manufacturer and now co-owns three patents with the company and the rights to sell it in North and South America.
He relates his success so far to his ability to communicate and build relationships with customers and vendors. The Wall Printer now has 15 employees. Baron also serves as a mentor at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNC Wilmington.
He points out that The Wall Printer is not a franchising company. He sells the machine, and for a fee based on the population of the particular “territory” agrees not to sell another printer in that particular area. A person who buys one wall printer from the company also agrees to buy a second machine as the business grows.
“We want people who have an entrepreneurial, business mindset,” Baron says. “It’s going to be up to them to introduce and market this.”