‘You Have To Be The Best’

FOR DOUG Fenske, printing was never a thought in his mind when he was growing up in Madelia, Minn. Then in 1974, between his freshman and sophomore years at Gustavus Adolphus College, he took a summer job at House of Print, a newspaper printer that also did commercial work. “I fell in love and have been in printing ever since,” reflects Fenske, now director of printing at nearby Minnesota State University, Mankato. At House of Print, owned by Ogden Newspapers, Fenske was a camera assistant, shooting film and then stripping and making plates. After a couple of years, he

A Leaner, Meaner State Printer

IF YOU look back at some of the large in-plants IPG profiled in the ’90s, you’ll quickly observe that nearly all of them have gotten smaller in the intervening years. And busier. Such is the case with one of the largest of them all: the California Office of State Publishing (OSP). When IPG ran a cover story on the colossal Sacramento printer in July of 1995, it had 540 employees. Today it employs 326. Yet revenues have gone from $56 million back then to $65 million today. State Printer Geoff Brandt says the staff shrinkage started around 1998 when the state lifted

Allstate Buys Its First Used Press

Allstate Print Communications Center, the largest corporate in-plant in the country, has just installed its first used press, a six-color, 40? Komori with a coater. “It definitely was a change in philosophy,” remarks Jerry Grouzard, print communication manager at the Wheeling, Ill.-based in-plant. “For years it was ‘new or nothing.’” But due to the state of the economy, he says, it was more like “used or nothing” this time around. The $184 million operation would have had a tough time justifying the cost of a new six-color press this year, he says, and likely would have had to wait a year or more to

Bringing Down A Satellite

A MERGER that results in the creation of a dynamic financial institution and can boast two in-plant printing sites is a great success story that ends with a thud. I don’t recommend trying to build better in-plants through subtraction and I take comfort in the fact that none of my staff was harmed in the production of this story. Defying Gravity “They are going to close you.” my wife said, as I left for work, “I don’t know why you bother to keep taking meetings.” I didn’t answer. I couldn’t allow myself to be that pragmatic. I did what I always did when

Co-mail Confusion: Do You Know How Much You’re Really Saving?

Co-mailing—the process in which a mailer (usually your printer) combines the mailing of your magazine with that of other titles—isn’t a new process. However, chances are you’ve only performed one or two postal analyses utilizing co-mailing techniques. And, when you did your analyses, you may have misunderstood how much you would be “saving” by co-mailing. By its very nature, analyzing co-mailing costs is difficult because it is a moving target. With each mailing pool, the participants change; therefore, quantities, weights and destinations change, resulting in different costs. To make matters more confusing, the mailers use different methods, equipment, terminology, billing procedures, and numbers and

Ding Dong: Vendor Calling

It’s the same old tactic: An equipment vendor calls the vice president at an organization and requests a meeting. The topic: how the vendor’s expertise and solutions are helping similar organizations succeed. The translation: how the vendor can close down the in-plant, run it with its own staff and still somehow save the organization money (while making a profit for itself). The topic came up again recently on a listserv discussion, engendering scores of comments from in-plant managers who have experienced this sneaky scheme. Several managers said their reputation as printing experts is so good, the VP asked the vendor to meet with the

Equipment Justification: Do A 360˚ Review

IN-PLANT MANAGERS sometimes develop a status quo perspective that needs to be refreshed. With some frequency, I’m reminded of the manager who cautioned me on a press justification study the press manufacturer was paying for: “I don’t want you getting my people too excited about a major new press, to then have them disappointed again.” My response: “Let’s see what the numbers tell us.” We owe it to our subordinates—as well as to our superiors—to ask our suppliers, our customers and our fellow associates, “What needs to change, and what opportunities have we not addressed?” I humbly (and occasionally) admit that I have

Graph Expo Guide

Prepress Agfa will debut its chemistry-free thermal digital plate, the ThermoFuse-based Azura TS. It features an advanced clean-out system and improved contrast for easier visual inspections and offers higher throughput of up to 50 percent or 100,000 impressions. Agfa’s ThermoFuse technology physically bonds images to the plate without chemical processing. PlateWriter 2000, an ink-jet system designed for small- to medium-format offset printing, will be shown by Glunz & Jensen. The system jets a Liquid Dot solution onto non-photosensitive aluminium plates. The imaged plates are then manually fed through a finishing unit that dries them and bonds the liquid dots. Heidelberg will demonstrate Prinect Inpress

Green Machines Boost Colorado In-plant’s Sustainable Image

“We have to be in a green marketing mode,” proclaims Tom Tozier, manager of Imaging Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Students, he says, now expect environmental friendliness from the vendors they use. And since his retail copy center—The CU Ink Spot—relies on their business, Tozier has taken steps to emphasize his in-plant’s green focus. The copy center was repainted with environmentally friendly (green) paint. The shop uses only recycled paper. And most importantly, the in-plant recently replaced two Xerox printers with a pair of Océ VarioPrint 2110s, which are reportedly more environmentally friendly than other major brands. “They use

LSU: Weathering the Storm

LOUISIANA STATE University Graphic Services has long been ranked as one of the top university in-plants. When IPG profiled the Baton Rouge operation back in March 1998, it boasted a $7.6 million budget and 98 employees. By 2004, sales had grown to $9.1 million. But then Hurricane Katrina hit, and life hasn’t been the same since. “It significantly cut state budgets mid-year,” recalls Tony Lombardo, who was recently appointed director of Auxiliary Services, which includes the in-plant. “It threw all of the departments into panic mode. You had to get real ‘creative’ in how you made it to the end of the

No Chads This Time

YOU MIGHT remember hearing something about the ballots used in Florida for the 2000 election. For one Miami in-plant, that controversy started a chain of events that led to the recent acquisition of a new four-color press. “After we had hanging chads, we went to electronic voting,” explains Steve Schmuger, graphic services manager for the Miami-Dade County General Services Administration. “There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the touch-screen voting.” In fact, the state ordered counties to cast aside their touch-screen machines and return to paper ballots, to be read by optical scanners. Suddenly, this 21-employee in-plant had to produce several million

Ole Miss In-plant Helps Presidential Debate Shine

When the University of Mississippi was picked to host the first U.S. Presidential Debate, school officials knew exactly where to turn for the printing of media kits, programs and invitations. They went immediately to their in-plant. “Our administration recognized and recommended the use of our facilities because of their confidence in us to produce the highest quality printed piece within the timetables demanded,” notes Tony Seaman, director of Printing and Graphic Services. “This was certainly an honor for us to be thought of so highly.” The Oxford, Miss.-based in-plant used its new Kodak NexPress 2100 Plus to print many of these pieces, employing

Optimize Your Workflow

A GOOD PRODUCTION workflow is one of the main factors in meeting deadlines and profitability. Historically, the answer to creating an effective workflow has been to throw people at it. Not only is that expensive, but with the increasing complexity of the tools and processes required, it demands very skilled operators. And finding and training these operators can be a big challenge in itself. Now, automating everything is not always practical. For example, any process that requires some subjective decision making is not usually suited to automation; however, we should be using technology to replace many of those predetermined and repetitive tasks. That is

PRIMIR Study Unveiled about Financial, Transactional and Transpromo Printing

A new PRIMIR study entitled “Trends and Future of Financial and Transactional Printing through 2012” was released in the spring of 2008. The study focused on commercial printers as well as in-house data centers and print-for-pay data service bureaus. A principle objective was to develop a comprehensive analysis of the digital printing (including inkjet) market opportunity for this application and identify drivers and threats to printed output in 2006 while at the same time forecasting trends and opportunities through 2012.  The research was unique since, in addition to the traditional round of expert and industry interviews, an online consumer survey was conducted. In fact,

Refocusing on Core Services and Lean Manufacturing

UNIVERSITY OF California-Berkeley Printing Services has long been known as one of the leading offset printers in the in-plant industry. When IPG visited and wrote about the in-plant back in the fall of 1996, it had just spent $3 million on a six-color, 40? Heidelberg Speedmaster 102, a move that put it on par with most of the Bay Area’s mid-sized commercial printers. With 174 employees and $15 million in annual revenue, the shop ran three shifts a day back then and handled 65 percent of UC-Berkeley’s printing needs. But eight years later, the state’s budget in disarray, the in-plant was losing business

Stronger Than Ever

When IPG wrote about Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co. in May of 1994, its in-plant was in the midst of a major forms management initiative. The Columbia, S.C., shop was moving its forms printing from offset presses to a new Xerox DocuTech and had come up with a groundbreaking solution where forms were stored as PostScript files on a server and printed on demand. Upper management was excited about the new DocuTech. The in-plant was looking forward to reducing warehouse inventory. All signs pointed to a successful future for the in-plant. Then came some unexpected curve balls. First, Colonial Life was

Tax Rebate Funds Green Purchase

Remember those economic stimulus rebate checks we all got a few months ago? Most of us snatched them up with eager hands. But at the Congregation of St. Joseph, a religious community in La Grange, Ill., this free cash presented a small problem for the nuns living there. They have all taken a vow of poverty. After some discussion about whether or not to even accept the money, the Sisters decided it was their duty, as citizens, to spend this rebate and help stimulate the economy. So they decided to use it to help save the planet. “As a congregation, we decided

Virtual IPMA Meeting A Success

The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) held its first online chapter meeting last month, bringing members together from all over the country. Though it was organized by the Portland, Ore., chapter, participants spanned the country, joining in from Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Indiana and other places. “This is really a historic first for the IPMA,” proclaimed Dana Bauer, of Fred Meyer’s Portland-based in-plant. “I think it’s going to be a great tool.” Future Web meetings will help IPMA members share information and help one another, he said. The meeting was facilitated by Ricoh’s Production Printing Business Group (PPBG), with Greg Cholmondeley serving as host.