Whatever it Takes in Tennessee
Poring over 15 years of her in-plant's data recently, Tammy Golden made an intriguing discovery. Since 1999—the year she started at the State of Tennessee's Division of Printing and Media Services—annual revenue has stayed relatively consistent, despite the fact that print volume has been declining.
"What that says to me is we've got to keep offering new services and getting into new markets just to stay even," says Golden, director of the 57-employee in-plant. "Had we not done that and just kept doing what we've always been doing, we'd…have 25 percent less business today."
Instead, the Nashville-based operation has sought out new opportunities, adding services like scanning, envelope printing and business cards, and integrating with other departments like the data print center.
"Five years from now there'll be three new things that we're doing that we never did before," she predicts. 3D printing is high on her wish list, she says, though she's waiting for customer demand to crystallize.
Golden is among a growing legion of forward-thinking in-plant managers actively seeking new ways to add value. Being seen as valuable, though, means being ready and willing to do anything that customers request, something Golden knows all too well.
"We don't say no," she affirms. "If somebody needs something, we find a way to do it. Yesterday there was a job for the first lady's office, and they changed the copy yesterday morning. And they still needed 200 by the close of business."
Because her staff is cross trained, she is able to assign sufficient operators to handle rush jobs like this and meet very tight deadlines.
Winning Over Customers
"We just do whatever we have to, to get it done, and I don't think there's any commercial printer that's going to do that every time," she notes.
Though there is a mandate requiring state printing to be sent to Printing and Media Services, Golden prefers to win customers over with excellent service.
"I want them to come because they want to come," she says.
And once customers get a taste of the in-plant's service, they're not let down.
"We do have a reputation within Tennessee government of giving good service," she says.
With a customer service background, Golden is intimately familiar with the importance of providing great service.
"Everybody's most important responsibility is customer service," she insists. She cites one example of a cutting machine operator who worked overtime every day for six months when the shop was short staffed because he wanted to make sure jobs got out on time.
"That's great customer service," she says.
Because of their years of service, employees have built relationships with customers, she says, "and they don't want to let people down."
With its main 35,000-square-foot plant located just a block from the state capitol in Nashville, Printing and Media Services also includes two other facilities: a 10,000-square-foot data printing operation and a 5,000-square-foot photography studio, both located in the landmark Tennessee Tower, a 30-story downtown state office building.
The in-plant uses a mix of one- and two-color offset presses, two Didde web presses and assorted digital printers to produce brochures, training manuals, posters, flyers, forms, certificates, tax notices, motor vehicle registration renewals and much more. An annual report it produced on its Xerox Color 1000 won a Gold award in the In-Print 2012 contest.
The in-plant has used the Color 1000's clear dry ink feature to great effect, highlighting images and creating artistic effects on pieces like its calendar, which won a Bronze award in In-Print 2012, along with a Best of Category award in the Printing Industry Association of the South contest. It features photos submitted by state employees and selected by staff photographers. More than 500 photos were submitted for this year's calendar, Golden says.
"People can't wait to buy them for their family and friends," she remarks.
New Businesses Bring Profit
That digital press also allowed the in-plant to break into a new business a few years ago, when the central procurement office asked Golden if her operation could take over the printing of the state's business cards. Those cards had long been printed on the outside, using thermography to create a raised effect on the state seal.
Golden worked closely with the governor's office, which eventually agreed that the thermographic effect was no longer essential, and that printing the cards digitally would be acceptable. The in-plant got approval to acquire a slitter, install a PageDNA online storefront to streamline ordering and online proofing, and start printing business cards on the Color 1000. In the most recent fiscal year, the shop generated more than $100,000 in revenue from business cards and is on track to repeat that this year.
"Besides just being an easy thing to pick up, it also gets us a different set of customers because the people who order the business cards are typically office supply people instead of the printing people, so now [more] people know about us," Golden says. It helps that her staff slips marketing pieces into each box of cards describing the other services the in-plant can provide.
Another new business the shop moved into was envelope printing. Customers were clamoring for
Related story: Best Practices: Charting Proficiency
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 nearly 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, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.