New In-plant Leaps Forward
Hobby Lobby's in-plant has gone from a one-man, one-press shop when it started five years ago, to 14 employees, four presses and a new HP Indigo digital color press.
By Bob Neubauer
Brad Smith can still remember the good old days.
"It started off small—one press, one person," recalls Smith, offset printing manager for Hobby Lobby's Oklahoma City-based in-plant.
But he doesn't have to think back very far to summon up this memory. It was the fall of 1999, five short years ago, when he was hired to run the new Hamada 234 the company had ordered to print its forms. Having spent 12 years operating machinery in another in-plant, Smith expected to continue doing pretty much the same thing at Hobby Lobby, a growing chain of stores selling supplies for arts, crafts and hobbies.
He didn't expect that, within a couple years, he would be manager of one of the fastest growing, most progressive in-plants in the country. In just five years his shop has expanded to include 14 employees, four offset presses—including a five-color perfector—two computer-to-plate systems and, most recently, a new HP Indigo WS4000 digital color press.
Smith credits his upper management for having the vision to support the shop's technology leaps.
"They give me a lot of freedom to move the shop the...direction that I feel it needs to go," he says.
He also praises company founder David Green for giving the in-plant the green light to begin with.
"The owner of the company...he's got the thinking process that if you can do it yourself, you have a tendency to save money," Smith says.
And save money the in-plant has. Smith estimates his shop saves Hobby Lobby between 45 and 50 percent over the cost of printing that work outside.