Sacred Heart In-plant Gets Spacious New Facility
In May, Art Gerckens got an opportunity most in-plants can only dream of. His seven-employee in-plant at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Conn., moved from a compact campus location to a spacious, state-of-the-art facility with environmental controls, a loading dock and a collection of leftover equipment and furniture ready and waiting.
“When space is such a valuable commodity at colleges and universities, the fact that they gave us almost 4,500 sq. ft. says something,” remarks Gerckens, manager of Print and Delivery. “They believe in us, and they like what we’re doing here. Otherwise, they would give it to someone else.”
This windfall came about after some very unique circumstances. When General Electric moved its world headquarters from Fairfield to Boston a few years ago, Sacred Heart purchased GE’s 66-acre campus and began relocating academic departments into the vacated three-story building, which it renamed West Campus. Meanwhile, Gerckens looked at the mountain of packages filling his 3,343-sq.-ft. print and mail operation every day and began to dream big.
He and his boss got an audience at a senior level university meeting and explained how parcel volume was exploding thanks to students ordering from online retailers. They showed photos of packages piling up in the in-plant’s co-located mail center.
“We argued that we’re bursting at the seams,” he says.
Their pitch worked, and the university allocated space for the in-plant in the new facility, right by the loading dock. Gerckens was put in charge of shipping and receiving for the university.
Over the past year, the in-plant’s new space was spiffed up, with new paint and carpeting. In May, the in-plant’s Ricoh Pro C901s (with an inline Plockmatic bookletmaker), Ricoh Pro 8100, Roland LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer and other devices made the half-mile trip to the new West Campus facility.
“By the end of the second day, it was all reinstalled and we were up and running,” Gerckens says. “It went really smooth.”
So far he is very impressed with his spacious new digs.
“The old place, it was just cramped,” he says. “Now we’re spread out. It just looks and feels like a new facility.”
The in-plant is enjoying the temperature and humidity controls GE had in place, as well as the air filtration system in GE’s “isolation room” where mail was inspected for anthrax powder. That room is now the in-plant’s wide-format printing area, home to the Roland LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer.
Unlike in the old facility, the new duplicating center has plenty of space for staff to maneuver around the equipment. It holds the shop’s two Ricoh machines — wrapped in Sacred Heart red — plus its 48˝ Phoenix laminator. That room also contains the bulk mail equipment: envelope printers and inserting, folding and cutting equipment.
GE left behind a lot of useful furniture and equipment, including platform trucks, a pallet jack, an electronic stacker and a drill press. (Sadly, a GE cutting machine was damaged beyond repair by movers when Gerckens tried to bring it to his old facility a year ago.) The in-plant also inherited desks, book cases, tables and industrial racks for storing paper.
Vacating the old facility on the main campus allowed Gerckens to expand the mail center there, where mail and packages are delivered and sorted. It boasts 5,000 high-density mailboxes. The in-plant’s old production room is now used to store packages.
“It just makes locating the packages much easier,” he says.
Now that the in-plant is settled in its new quarters, Gerckens is enjoying the benefits.
“The workflow is just so much better now. It’s just a home run for the university,” he says.
The resulting efficiency gives him more time to do strategic planning he says. One of those plans is to better utilize his 110 work-study student workers to help with the increasing number of mail runs on the growing campus.
“This is going to be the year where we rely on the students,” he says.
The university recently bought St. Vincent’s College in nearby Bridgeport, which added an additional mail run as well as new work for the in-plant. With its new facility, Gerckens says, the in-plant can easily handle that new volume.
“With the space and with being able to have streamlined processes, we’re going to be able to service them and anything else that comes down the pike,” he promises.
The in-plant, which has earned its G7 certification, is already printing most of the signage for the campus, a never-ending task due to all the new construction.
“Wide-format has been a home run,” he says. “We make a lot of money there.”
Gerckens is pleased at the faith the university has in his Print and Delivery operation, evidenced by the decision to move it into better quarters.
“That shows the administration is behind us, and they believe in the service we provide,” he says.
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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.