Pro Bono Job Pays Off
WHEN PHILLIPS Petroleum merged with Conoco Inc. in 2002, the resulting international energy company, Conoco-Phillips, had more that just its petrochemical assets to consider. Both Phillips and Conoco had operated first-class in-plants, and the Fortune 500 firm had to decide what to do with them.
After studying the matter, the company decided to merge the two in-plants into the Bartlesville, Okla., facility. Lucky for ConocoPhillips it did so. The company’s in-plant won Best of Show in the In-Print 2007 contest for an exquisite full-color book showcasing the wildlife of southeast Texas.
“I felt it was a nice piece, but it’s nice to hear it from someone else,” says Mike Cranor, manager of Creative Services.
“Nice” is an understatement. The 134-page perfect-bound book features scores of crisp color photos depicting the wildlife and flora of the Houston area. With multiple crossovers and a cream-colored background on every page, the job was extremely difficult to print, requiring close monitoring of color consistency throughout the 10 days it took to print all 15,000 books.
Though this was ConocoPhillips’ first Best of Show, Phillips Petroleum’s in-plant won that honor an impressive three times over the years. Some of the in-plant’s current staff worked on those pieces as well.
Almost Didn’t Enter
Cranor admits that entering the contest was something he had to be prodded into. The shop’s paper salesman was the first to suggest it when he said, “You guys do some great work. You should submit something,” Cranor recalls. “Then my supervisor said, ‘you guys need to submit something.’ So we grabbed some pieces and sent them off.”
When he heard the shop won a Gold award, he was ecstatic. He and Prepress Lead Randy McDonald made the drive to Oklahoma City last month to attend the IPMA awards banquet.
There, they and the other Gold winners watched with anticipation as an IPG video showed the In-Print judges narrowing down the contenders and picking the Best of Show winner.
“We were all on the edge of our seats,” Cranor says. When his shop’s piece was held high as the winner, he says, “It was just a rush.”
The piece itself, called the “Houston Atlas of Biodiversity,” was printed as a “gift in kind” by ConocoPhillips to highlight the company’s environmental concerns. It was printed for the Houston Wilderness, a consortium of business, environmental and government interests acting to preserve the region’s unique biodiversity.
With a Conoco-Phillips executive slated to keynote the banquet where the atlas would make its debut, Cranor knew this was an important piece for ConocoPhillips. He gathered his employees and explained this to them, stressing, “we really need to strive for perfection” on this project.
“Everybody got on board, and everybody worked hard and worked together,” he praises.
Change in Plan
When his account rep first told him about the piece, Cranor says, it was supposed to be just 72 pages.
“I told him we want to have it in our shop for three months,” he says. “That would give us time to work the job in between other workloads.”
Most readers probably won’t be surprised to learn that it didn’t exactly go that way.
“Late in the year they brought it to us and they were like, ‘we’ve got to have these within two weeks,” he says. The page count had also gone up. Fortunately everything worked out.
“We didn’t have a huge workload for corporate jobs so we were able to put it on and get it through the shop,” Cranor says.
The atlas was designed by Dearwater Design, in Houston, and sent to the in-plant on a DVD as single-page spreads. Randy McDonald, prepress lead, and Frank Mitchell, prepress assistant, did the imposition, then output proofs on an Epson printer using Agfa Sherpa software. After the designer signed off on them, McDonald and Mitchell made plates on the shop’s Agfa :Palladio platesetter. They handed them off to press operators Shane Crosthwait and Lee Tevebaugh who loaded them onto the five-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 with an aqueous coater.
“This was our first experience with satin aqueous,” remarks Cranor. At first he wondered about the decision to use an aqueous coating over a gloss-coated sheet (Sappi Lustro 100-lb. text and cover) but the results speak for themselves.
The most difficult part of the job, Cranor acknowledges, was maintaining consistency on the cream-colored background, present on nearly every page.
“It’s a continuous process to monitor those densities and keep them at certain levels,” he says. His crew checked colors with densitometers, and several people looked at each run and signed off on it.
Also tough was the solid orange Pantone 130 on both inside covers.
“That’s a lot of area of orange,” he says. Still, the shop printed it without a single blemish.
The job was run as a four-color job with the fifth color being a Pantone 416 grey used exclusively for the extensive text throughout the book.
“We had tried to get them to accept...the whole thing in four-color process, but they were adamant that that text be handled with 416 gray,” Cranor says.
The in-plant did the folding, overseen by Jack Smith, who kept a close eye on alignment from signature to signature and page to page. As a result, rules line up perfectly throughout the book. The folded signatures were sent to Modern Bindery, in Tulsa, for perfect binding.
The resulting book, Cranor says, was something everyone in the in-plant was proud of when they saw copies. He credits his staff for their dedication and attention to details.
“We’ve just got a great bunch of people,” he praises.
Related story: Two in a Row for ConocoPhillips
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.