From the Editor: All the Right Things
I think I found the in-plant I want to work at. Over the years I’ve visited quite a few in-plants; 162 to be exact. Many have impressed me with their capabilities and their drive to provide excellent customer service.
But last month when I dropped by the in-plant at Bloomberg, near Princeton, N.J., I was blown away by nearly everything I saw: the services, the attitude, the processes and especially the way the company has embraced the in-plant. Even the story of how Global Manager John Cruser grew this operation from a one-man shop printing a single weekly newsletter to the sophisticated, FSC-certified, international printing operation of today was impressive.
The first thing that caught my eye was the wall of awards the in-plant has won. This wasn’t hidden away in the shop but out in a main corridor where everyone in the company could see it. Not only were Bloomberg’s In-Print awards mounted there, but also its Gold Ink awards, sustainability awards and framed IPG articles about its two Best of Show awards, which stood on a shelf nearby. Elsewhere in the building, large banners proclaimed its “Print Center of the Year” status, which it has won two years running from the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. It’s very obvious that Bloomberg is proud of its in-plant. It’s not tucked away in a basement, but front and center on the company’s main floor.
The shop itself was very spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of room between equipment. Though it boasts Xerox and HP Indigo digital printers and a five-color Sakurai offset press, the highlight was the new swissQprint flatbed UV printer, which it used to great effect in creating its Best of Show-winning project. On a wall nearby were samples of the types of effects that printer can produce, including printing on glass, textured printing and even 3D effects.
John shows these samples to customers to give them ideas. In fact, he ships samples of the different types of work the in-plant does to the marketing and sales departments every three months, a terrific idea.
I liked how the in-plant staff is cross-trained, and operators switch regularly between equipment. To keep everyone on the same page, the in-plant posts a “quality statement” on its wall detailing the processes it adheres to in order to produce excellent printing and binding. It employs continuous improvement methods to add efficiency, such as dating when stocks were last used so more popular stocks can be moved lower on shelves for easier access.
Overall, I got the feeling that the company really values its in-plant employees and their work, and takes steps to make them feel respected. Bloomberg even provides them free lunch from its cafeteria, a wonderful perk. The glass walls everywhere give great visibility and foster a feeling of community. I left Bloomberg feeling very inspired.
That was my second in-plant visit of the day. I also dropped in at Princeton University Print and Mail, an in-plant that has undergone many changes over the past eight years as it moved from offset to digital presses and took strong steps to reinvigorate its operation. Where it once lost money, the in-plant is now breaking even after finding ways to cut costs, adding an MIS to better track expenses and visiting customers to help them understand what the in-plant can do for them.
The in-plant’s off-campus facility, once an airplane hanger, is quite spacious, with lots of room to move around. I visited during a transition period, however, so much of the printing and bindery equipment I saw is scheduled to be upgraded in the coming months.
In all, it was a very fruitful day for me, showing me some of the challenges in-plants are facing and the unique ways they are addressing them.
Related story: Another Best of Show for Bloomberg
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 more than 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.