EVERYTHING IS CUSTOM AT TIM FRATES LASER ENGRAVING & CUSTOM FRAMING
By Liesl Greathouse
MONTROSE-(August 5, 2014) A new, unique shop will soon be open one block off Main Street in Montrose–Tim Frates Laser Engraving & Custom Framing, ‘Where Everything Is Custom.’ The shop will feature custom picture framing, personalized gifts, laser engraving for awards and plaques, and promotional products using full-color dye sublimation, the process where plaques, frames and many other items can have full-color pictures put on them.
Owner Tim Frates has been doing custom framing for five years from his garage, slowly expanding into laser engraving and dye sublimation. Now he has decided it is time to move into a professional business setting in order to foster growth. “Now that I have consistent business and a growing customer base, I decided to take a big leap of faith,” he said. “I knew that the only way to grow my business was to be in a more visible location.”
After a long career in the newspaper business as a photo journalist, Frates decided to turn his love of photography into an entrepreneur-based business doing custom framing. However, he decided to marry framing with something else in order to make a more viable business. He decided to incorporate laser engraving so that he would also be able to offer awards, signage, etched glassware, unique wooden POP displays and personalized gifts. Eventually, adding dye sublimation was a natural fit.
The spot that Frates found for his new shop was arranged by ‘fate’.
“It was something that fell into place,” he said. “I was looking for the right fit, and I know the landlord that had this spot available. He has been really gracious in allowing me to upgrade the building. It is a great location with great visibility, being just one block off Main Street, and the parking is fantastic. Customers can be from their car to my front counter in 20 steps.”
Frates has many tools at his disposal to offer to customers, with his laser engraver being an important part. “There are certain designs that you are not able to get with a computer or by hand,” he explained. “The amount of detail that a laser can do is incredible. It adds a whole new dynamic.” One example of his use of the laser is with a handwritten poem that was laser-engraved onto a piece of glass and then framed as a keepsake.
Dye sublimation has proven to be an incredible addition to Frates’ tool box. From a simple aluminum plate that can have a picture put on it to be placed in a phone case, to full-color pictures adhered to wooden plaques for the Montrose County Fair, this process offers many possibilities and appeals to a variety of customers. Those possibilities are always expanding, so Frates is eager to show customers what dye sublimation can do.
Together, custom picture framing, laser engraving, and dye sublimation combine as a powerful array of tools that can take your framing or award project to a higher level of professionalism.
“They all play off each other,” Frates said. “Laser engraving can be incorporated into the frames; dye sublimation incorporated into the awards; and regular framing can be an addition to laser engraved pieces.”
While all the areas interest him, custom framing is Frates’ favorite part. “All of them are hands on, creative in nature, and all the processes start and finish with me,” he explained. “But with framing, there is a real creative side to it, starting with the photograph to the design of the frame, molding and mat boards. All are unique, really nice, and I really like the hands-on element of building them. When they are finished, I can look at them and think ‘that is something of mine and I am really proud of it.’”
With his business, Frates has been involved with many nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America (VOA), Rotary Club, VFW and CASA. He also helps with local fundraisers, including one that will be coming up for the Montrose High School Football Team. In partnership with Ross Turner of Turner Automotive, there will be a silent auction, featuring a Bronco jersey signed by Peyton Manning, with Frates doing the custom framing of it.
Frates believes that when approaching any project, that if you are going to do it, do it really cool. One example of that was with the Telluride BBQ Festival awards. “I wanted to do something different, so I decided to go with the logo of the sponsor, Jim Beam, in the shape of a ribbon,” he said. “It was 100 percent custom. Before that, they just had a simple plate-shaped design.”
Another way he took the next step in creativity was with a Custom cut and laser engraved acrylic award for CASA’s Dodgeball tournament, in the shape of a flame-covered ball. “We kept it really cheap, but still really cool,” he said. “It was simple and no one had ever seen anything like it.”
Frates’ shop may be small, but it brings big benefits to the local community. “I’m sure that I will need to hire someone to work here at some point,” Frates said. “I’m also just another business providing custom services, giving customers another option.”
Frates is still working on the shop, so that when people come in they say, ‘this is cool!’ He also hopes that the storefront will help with one of the most difficult parts of his work: “It is difficult to explain what I can do with the laser and dye sublimation,” he said. “The different aspects are hard to explain, so I hope to have a chance to really show people what I can do, and how I can make something different, unique and specific to them.”
For more information, call 615-7050, visit engraveandframe.com, and, once the doors open, visit the shop at 401 N. 1st St. in Montrose.