Location may not be everything, but being situated inside Parkview Health's headquarters has certainly helped Printing and Postal Services secure its position as Parkview's primary provider of print and related services. What has enabled the in-plant to thrive, though, has been its consistent ability to reduce costs, raise quality and add value for Parkview, an 8,700-employee, not-for-profit community-based health system serving northeastern Indiana and Ohio.
In 2006, however, the in-plant's prognosis was not so optimistic. At that time, Parkview outsourced much of its printing, and the in-plant was struggling to justify its own existence.
Enter Gene Voelker to lead the operation as manager of Supply Chain Business Services. Voelker helped the in-plant leverage its lodgment within the 146,000-square-foot distribution center at Parkview's headquarters in Fort Wayne, Ind., to bring print business in-house.
"During my first couple of years, when we'd see outsourced jobs come in on the loading dock, I'd get right out there to look at the jobs and analyze costs, then go to the customers to tell them how we could produce the same product at 40 percent savings, and ask why they were outsourcing," he recalls.
"The initial two or three years were a little rough," he admits, "but as customers got on board, I was able to soften my approach." In time, "Why are you outsourcing?" evolved into "Why would you want to go anywhere else?"
The in-plant has since enjoyed steady year-over-year growth; it experienced a 27 percent rise in 2012 alone. Today, the in-plant produces the vast majority of Parkview's print jobs, which accounted for 25 million impressions in 2006 and are expected to reach 44 million impressions in 2013.
"Only very high-end marketing collateral is being outsourced now—and that's one of our future targets," Voelker notes.
Color Printing Growth
Printing Services produces educational, marketing and training materials for Parkview, as well as medical forms, business cards and items classified as synthetics. Typical production hours are a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. staggered shift.
The in-plant also includes a Postal Services unit and, together, Printing and Postal Services operate out of a 7,000-square-foot site with the equivalent of 10.4 full-time staff positions.
Although less than a third (31 percent) of the in-plant's jobs are color, color work has grown 222 percent since 2006 versus 2.5 percent growth for black-and-white work. Training and patient-education materials have been the biggest drivers of color production, according to Voelker.
"Departments used to do their own work on [HP] Deskjets, whereas now we're doing saddle-stitched, high-end color products for them," he relates.
"Producing more color gives us the opportunity to save more money because color tends to be marked up much higher [when purchased from outside suppliers]," he explains. "Because we have no profit motive, our color pricing has gone down as we've reduced our costs." The shop recently installed new Ricoh Pro C901 and C901+ color printers.
Such a strong business spike in 2012 can be attributed in large part to the opening of two new hospitals within the system. "We were working seven days a week," Voelker recalls.
Yet, the in-plant's overall growth and stability has much to do with being open to non-traditional print work. "We need to think like entrepreneurs instead of just a department," declares Voelker, whose background is in business and finance.
For example, a little more than a year ago, the in-plant began printing on synthetics. Voelker defines synthetics as non-paper products or products combined with paper that have a lot of characteristics of plastics, including polyester paper, and removable and permanent clings. The operation is also printing on a cloth-like material.
The shop is using synthetics for a number of applications. "We own an insurance company and