One of the largest in-plants in the insurance business, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has won many In-Print awards over the years for the excellent quality of its printing. But the top prize—the Best of Show award—has always eluded it.
“A couple years ago we were close,” reflects Catherine Ciardi, corporate director of Document Services for the Rochester, NY-based operation.
This year, the 52-employee in-plant came much more than close. Not only did one of its pieces win the coveted Best of Show award, a second Excellus BCBS piece was in the runner-up position.
“I was really overjoyed for the staff,” says Ciardi, who learned of her in-plant’s victory last month during the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association conference in Orlando, FL. At an award ceremony there, she and the rest of the attendees watched a video showing the judges picking the top piece out of all the Gold winners in the non-offset categories.
After narrowing their choices down to just two finalists, the judges found themselves in the unique situation of having to choose between two pieces from the same company. Though the in-plant’s second-place calendar was a truly impressive piece, the judges could not overlook the complexity of the multi-part special project they selected as the winner.
Printed for a symposium of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association affiliated information technology managers from all over the country, which was hosted by Excellus BCBS, the winning special project included cards, posters, pocket folders, banners and more—20 elements in all. Each one of them matched the others perfectly in color and design. Printed on a Kodak NexPress 3300, the project took a week to produce.
“I thought it was terrific that they [the judges] understood the complexity of it,” remarks Ciardi.
Tom Tresohlavy, digital color specialist, who had the lead role in producing all the pieces, admits it was a challenging project—but he never flinched.
“We were confident in our ability to produce it,” he says.
The pieces were distributed to symposium attendees from Blue Cross plans across the country, some of which have their own in-plants. Document Services staff wanted the quality to be outstanding since it would reflect their company.
“Everything that has our brand on it, we take an extra look at,” affirms Randy Neth, manager of print operations. “We make sure the pieces match.”
“We really wanted it to shine,” adds Tresohlavy.
The most complicated part of the job was a step insert placed inside the pocket folder. Six pages of varying heights were printed so that the symposium’s logo carries over from one piece to the next. They line up perfectly, forming one complete image over the six pages.
contributed to the project were Vincent Cammarono, Matthew Topeck, Michael Siebert, Richard Palermo and Tom Visconte.
“I remember going back and having to tweak the photo for the step inserts because it just wasn’t quite perfect enough,” Tresohlavy recalls. His diligence paid off. The contest judges were enamored with the way it lined up.
The project was designed by Chris Brancato. He presented some of his early ideas to the Document Services staff, who recommended a few changes to make the finishing process more efficient. The files were sent to the in-plant through its Web-to-print portal, WebCRD from Rochester Software Associates. The shop’s designer, Barb Koladzinski, checked the files and made adjustments.
Then, starting with the pocket folder, Tresohlavy printed each piece on the NexPress, checking them carefully for color consistency.
“The NexPress holds consistency very, very well,” he lauds. Performing process linearization on the digital press helped ensure color accuracy, he says. And to guarantee color consistency between pieces printed on the NexPress and the wide-format printer, the in-plant relied on its CGS color management software.
Pieces were printed on Sterling digital paper from NewPage, using both text and cover weights.
Two of the pieces, the thank-you card and the folder, featured Kodak Dimensional Clear Dry Ink, applied by the NexPress to create a clear “raised” layer on the page.
Tresohlavy then handled the scoring, slitting, cutting and folding using a Duplo DC-645, a Baum 31.5 cutter and a Standard Horizon folder. He and other staff also did some hand-folding of smaller pieces. Some of the additional Document Services employees who contributed to the project were Vincent Cammarono, Matthew Topeck, Michael Siebert, Richard Palermo and Tom Visconte.
The customer—the Excellus BCBS IT department—was quite pleased with the piece. And when Tresohlavy learned it had won Best of Show, he was beyond pleased.
“I was ecstatic,” he reveals. “It’s the best award we’ve ever won. It’s definitely the apex of my career.”
Related story: Excellus BCBS Honored for Promotional Excellence
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.