Managers Share Success Stories at Luncheon
In-plants made a strong showing at the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association’s annual Graph Expo luncheon. This year’s session featured a panel of in-plant managers, as it has previously, with the addition of InfoTrends’ Howie Fenton as moderator. (Watch videos of this session at bit.ly/IPMAG15.)
Before posing questions to the panel—which featured in-plant managers from the University of California-Davis, Fairfield University and Cedarville University—Fenton discussed the state of the in-plant industry and suggested ways in-plants can increase productivity and performance, sell value-added services and create a battle plan. He even proposed questions in-plant managers should be asking themselves in order to stay relevant and avoid outsourcing.
Then Fenton invited the panelists to relate their success stories. UC Davis’ Brian Wadell credited RSA’s WebCRD Web-to-print system with helping his operation to expand. This year the shop added the VPD module for business cards for one department that needed business cards throughout the state.
What really captured the audience’s attention was Wadell’s description of a unique graphic design retainer agreement model for graphic services as opposed to an hourly charge. Offered for key high-profile customers, this model has enabled the team to be profitable. Other initiatives include offering graphic design classes to customers and the development of a 3D printing offering to meet the university’s needs.
A Self-sustaining Operation
Curtis Ebdon, director of Fairfield University’s Design & Digital Print operation, is part of a centralized marketing and communications group, operating like an agency for university clients. Six years ago Ebdon and his manager set a goal to become self-sustaining, changing the name of the operation and bringing in a creative director. Account managers now solicit business for everything from printing, design—even locker room design—and digital print, to digital marketing, social media, PR and video.
This shift has brought business inside that was previously outsourced and driven print because the department includes the key to driving print: the design team. Ebdon feels the shop’s turnaround is due to this new approach of “being at the table” and marketing the in-plant’s ability to do it all for customers. Now operating in the black, the in-plant returned $250,000 in chargebacks to the university in 2014 and successfully fought off an outsourcing attempt.
Tammy Slone of Cedarville University has found success through fostering internal partnerships, particularly with marketing. Recognizing that the marketing department drives print, Slone began partnering with marketing, offering customers a discount for work sent to the in-plant through marketing. As a result, marketing retains brand control and the print center wastes less time repairing file problems. By working with the university’s various departments, Sloan has been able to enlighten many about the value of the in-plant, thus increasing the shop’s volume.