Transition Time in Texas
It’s been a busy and exciting year so far for the small but dedicated staff at Stephen F. Austin State University Printing Services in Nacogdoches, Texas. To kick off 2016, the four-employee in-plant installed a Kodak NexPress SX3300 digital color press, replacing a smaller Xerox 700.
“The minute we got the machine, we got a job from the admissions department,” recalls Administrative Assistant Rebecca Galatas. “They are really happy that they don’t have to outsource their bigger jobs any more. They can keep jobs in-house, and we can quickly give them proofs.”
The in-plant desired the capability of running larger sheet sizes so it could print jobs multiple-up, such as postcards. So they searched for a solution to get past the 19˝ stock threshold (which they could use on the Xerox 700) and up to 25˝. The shop can now print bigger fold-out brochures and multiple signatures.
“Our specialty is looking at costs,” Galatas boasts. “So we looked at what was outsourced in the past five years, and we looked at the sheet sizes that we needed to bring that work back in. The admissions department was very excited about doing that. Even with post cards, which are small, we can now do longer runs, up to 80,000, in a shorter period of time.”
Stephen F. Austin State University enrolls approximately 13,000 students and offers 83 undergraduate majors and 120 areas of study within six academic colleges. It sits on a wooded campus nestled in the heart of Texas Forest Country, about 160 miles southeast of Dallas.
The school’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin, was known as the “Father of Texas” for leading the successful colonization of the region in 1825. The state capital also bears his name.
Galatas notes that, due to the school’s rural location, it is an advantage to have internal printing, finishing and mailing capabilities.
“We are not in Dallas or Houston,” she remarks. “We are in a more remote area, so we were doing a lot of outsourcing, and everything had to be shipped to us. Now we can do more jobs or proofs internally, and our customers have a lot more options.”
Adding Texture to Images
One of the new capabilities that the addition of the NexPress brought to campus was Kodak Dimensional printing technology. The shop can now print textured images to grab the attention of donors and potential students.
“Kodak was definitely the best bang for our buck,” Galatas says, explaining that she has also been impressed with the customer service the shop has received.
Galatas points out that the shop first used the clear Dimensional printing process to produce a job for the university development department. It was a marketing piece aimed at big potential donors. A prominent football coach was coming to speak on campus, so the shop produced an invitation that had the look and feel of a football.
“It reinforced the theme of the event,” Galatas said. “It really made donors pay attention.”
The press can also print gold ink and has a fifth color unit for gloss and satin coating.
“We had a pretty high interest in the Dimensional clear printing, which gives us the opportunity to make a project textured,” adds Digital Specialist Linda Bryant. “Our alumni department is very interested in the gold ink printing, which gives the look of gold metal flake. We are trying to promote it throughout campus so that more people will take advantage of this capability with their brochures and postcards.”
Bryant says that the consistency, registration and speed of the NexPress have been “phenomenal.”
“I have learned that there are two colors that can be a real headache: red and purple. And unfortunately our school color is purple,” she says with a laugh. “The Kodak allows me to hit the correct purple every time. It keeps our standards pretty high. I am confident that any brochure that I run today will look the same if I print it six months from now.”
The NexPress also handles heavier stock well, giving designers more options.
The in-plant had to go through a remodeling project to fit the new equipment. Walls were torn down between the digital printing area and the traditional pressroom. The compressor for the NexPress now resides in the paper storage room.
“We basically had to open things up for the length of the machine,” Galatas says, noting that jobs that used to take a week or more to complete can now be done in a little more than a day with the Kodak equipment. “And the larger size allows us to do jobs that we never would have been able to do before.”
The in-plant’s employees have also been impressed with the machine’s variable data and addressing capabilities, Galatas informs.
The university did not stop with its NexPress acquisition. It also replaced a pair of Xerox 4112s with a Ricoh 8120S with an Ultra Punch and Plotmatic in-line square folder and trimmer. In the finishing area, the shop added a used 40˝ Polar cutter and a Duplo folder.
The excitement on campus extended into March, when the school’s men’s basketball team, the Lumberjacks, earned their way into the NCAA tournament. The in-plant routinely prints roster cards, programs, posters and tickets for the school’s athletic teams.
“We are proud of our athletics department, and they have come a long way,” Galatas states, noting that the NexPress works well to print numbered athletic event tickets 30-up, using black ink and purple paper.
For the Lumberjacks’ run to March Madness, the in-plant produced numerous 11x17˝ signs that were handed out to fans at games. Galatas proudly watched as the signs were shown on TV during games.
The new equipment will greatly help the university’s recruitment efforts.
“The school wants to get more and more information into their marketing pieces to catch the eye of potential students,” Galatas says. “We need to let students know what programs we have and what we can offer to them.”
Galatas works closely with the admissions department to manage print schedules and assist with multimedia campaigns. The shop will often print a postcard that will be mailed to students through the university post office. Additionally, the student will receive a digital version via email.
Moving forward, the shop, which was named Print Center of the Year by the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) in 2014, would like to add a new collator to handle jobs like the university commencement program, which grows in size every year.
Galatas reveals that in about 18 months, the university will relocate the in-plant to a brand new building located just off campus. Older apartment buildings are being knocked down to make way for the new facility that will house Printing Services and the Residence Life department.
Propane-powered golf carts will be used to deliver jobs to customers on campus. And a quick copy shop will remain on campus to offer students walk-up printing and copying services.
Galatas concludes that the shop will look to add Web-to-print job ordering software once the in-plant moves into its new space. She seeks a solution that will allow customers to remotely order letterhead and stationery, and quickly redesign commonly ordered jobs.