Project Spotlight: BPI Color's History Wall

Companies with long and rich histories are constantly looking for new and inventive methods to tell their stories. Highlighting the history of a company is fast becoming one of the most popular corporate interior design trends for businesses small and large.


Steve Mueller and Pat Feely discuss the History Wall Project


In September 2015 BPI Color completed a company history display for JP Cullen. That project became the focal point of the JP Cullen lobby and tells that company’s history from 1892 to present. When BPI Color featured the endeavor in a Project Spotlight, a seed was planted. As BPI Color celebrated their 60th Anniversary, Steve Mueller, BPI’s President and Pat Feely, BPI’s Vice President, wanted to commemorate the milestone with a wall display of their own that could feature the specialized color work and installation capabilities for which the company is now known, as well as tell the company’s 60 year story.

The Story
The most important element of a great history wall is a great history and BPI Color has that in spades. Steve’s dad, Dick Mueller, and godfather, Steve Ulik, purchased the 5-year-old Blueprints, Inc. in 1961. As evidenced by the company’s original name, blueprinting was the bread and butter of the company, but as the industry grew and changed, it was crucial the company adapt as well. Blueprints, drafting tables and drawing equipment gave way to huge printers and plotting services, which ultimately gave way to the digital revolution allowing just about everyone the ability to afford their own printers and plotters. Just as the equipment has evolved through the years, so too has the company having transformed into a digital color resource for an ever-expanding list of businesses across Wisconsin and a myriad of other states. The years brought multiple location moves for the company, but Milwaukee has been and will continue to remain home for the company’s headquarters. In 1990 Steve purchased the company from his father and in 1996, “Blueprints, Inc.” changed their name to BPI since the company could no longer technically make a “blueprint”. A recent rebranding of the company, coupled with an updated name, BPI Color is now operating out of multiple locations in Wisconsin fueled by the continued desire to provide value for their clients. Even as the industry and company evolved and adapted, the most important part of the BPI Color story that has never changed has been its people – starting with Steve and Pat. Friends since high school, the company continues to maintain that family atmosphere. Today, under the leadership of Steve, Pat and Ron Kuzia, BPI Color’s Chief Financial Officer, the company is positioned to continue to successfully grow for another 60 years plus.

The Project
Pulling all of the project elements together fell upon Steve since he had the company’s “archives” in his attic and various other locations. BPI Color’s history is also Steve’s history so the process of wading through boxes of company artifacts and history was a personal one. Steve “narrowed” the items down to approximately 100 elements so the design team could begin to tell the story. There was one item that was neither printed nor reproduced, but simply repurposed – the 65-pound orange protractor that came from a 1960’s era Blueprints, Inc. sign that was still hanging in the Milwaukee warehouse. It now has a place of honor along the wall.

The wall was designed to be both a timeline of the company’s history and an example of BPI Color’s craftsmanship. To that end, the wall design incorporated custom cut shapes that would highlight BPI’s Zund Router capabilities. The ability to highlight elements, like the 1960’s van with these custom shapes, combined with a multi-level design, added both interest and complexity to the presentation. These capabilities allow designers, storytellers and branders to think three dimensionally and not be limited by traditional flat printing.

Once design and production were complete, the BPI Color team of Perry Carter, Larry Beasley and Dan Feely developed a plan for mounting and installation. This included planning for every aspect from wall prep and paint selection through adhesion testing and selection of substrates and stand-offs. All aspects of a project of this scope and magnitude require a level of expertise, making this the perfect opportunity to showcase BPI’s skills in addition to telling their compelling story. In short, it was a labor of love.

The History Wall by the numbers…

2 Number of Coats of Primer

5 Number of Materials/Substrates used

7 Number of days paint and wall prep allowed to dry/cure

12 mm Stand-offs for Level 1

17 Number of Square Feet of Aluminum Substrate

40 Number of Square Feet of Sintra Substrate 25 mm Stand-offs for Level 2

56 Number of Square Feet of PVC Substrate

60 Number of years in the making

66.5 Number of Inches representing total wall height

245 Number of Inches representing total wall length


The Completed Wall


Stop by and see the BPI Color history wall for yourself or, if you would like to speak with a member of the BPI Color team about your company history or display projects, call (414) 327-5010.