In-Plant Graphics February 2009
When Slippery Rock University installed a new Xerox 5000 last June, color copies jumped from 16,000 to 38,000 a month. “Everybody loves the quality,” says Sharon Isacco, manager of the five-employee in-plant, in Slippery Rock, Pa. Still, she knew the programs and brochures being printed on the 5000 could look a lot better if the shop upgraded its bindery equipment.
FRITZ SIMS’ dedication to his customers is best illustrated by an anecdote he tells while sitting in his Camden, N.J., office. A year or so before he became supervisor of Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) Printing Services, he overheard his previous boss turning away a customer who had brought in a two-color job—even though the shop had recently installed a two-color ABDick 9870 with a T-head. Sims was shocked. The next day his boss went on vacation. Sims called the customer back and invited him to bring in the job. That customer became one of the in-plant’s greatest advocates, and Sims later went on to become supervisor of the six-employee DRPA in-plant. Satisfying customers has been his goal ever since.
Late getting into digital color, Arkansas State University Printing Services has just installed a Xerox 700 color printer. According to David Maloch, assistant director, the choice was anything but a snap decision.Equipped with sheetfed presses as well as a Fairchild NewsKing web press for printing the student newspaper and class schedules, the nine-employee Jonesboro-based operation could not accommodate the growing number of short-run color jobs, Maloch says. So to find the best digital printer, Printing Services managed to convince three different vendors to install their competing machines for month-long trial runs, one after the other, at no cost to the in-plant.
For years, producing commencement programs was a cumbersome task for Appalachian State University Printing and Publications. Printed sheets had to be moved by hand between stand-alone collating, stitching and folding equipment to create about 15,000 programs. “We hired temp employees for that type of work,” says Joyce Mahaffey, director of the Boone, N.C., in-plant.
I WAS proofreading this issue, just getting to the end of John Sarantakos’ article on reporting to upper management, when I saw it. It was perfect. John had hit upon what is essentially the theme of this entire issue: “The best strategy is to become indispensable.”
AS THE economy continues its downward plummet, many of you have already been told to put off your dreams of a pay raise until next year. In fact, 17.2 percent of the respondents to our biennial in-plant salary survey already suffered a 2008 pay freeze. Still, overall salaries climbed more than 11.4 percent since 2007, compared to a 10.6 percent increase of 2007 pay over 2005. Our 2009 salary survey, conducted in early January, pulled in an impressive 424 usable responses. From these we have calculated average salaries in a number of different categories—data you can present to your supervisors (when the time is right).
Prior to 2005, Brigham Young University’s Print & Mail Production Center did its plastic spiral binding with simple, manual tabletop machines. Then the Provo, Utah-based in-plant sent some representatives to Print 05, in Chicago. There, they first laid eyes on the PLASTIKOIL Concept QS2 Dual Interline system, from Gateway Bookbinding Systems. It allows for the in-house manufacturing of plastic spiral binding, coupled with automated coil insertion and finishing. The idea of being able to manufacture their own coil and have it automatically inserted convinced them to make the investment in this system.
When cosmetics giant Mary Kay Inc. departed from the trend of producing products overseas, Keith Hopson, supervisor of Mary Kay Printing Services, in Carrollton, Texas, had to move fast. The company’s decision to make its products in the U.S. included the printing and finishing of leaflets and inserts. “Our world kind of got turned upside-down in August of 2007,” Hopson recalls. “We struggled for about four months trying to keep up with the orders.”
JOHN CAMERON’S grimace slowly turned into a resigned smile. He had only worked at Central Piedmont Community College’s (CPCC) Campus Printing Center for five months, but he was already aware of how things were done at the in-plant. If there was any reasonable way to exceed customers’ expectations of the timeline or quality of their jobs, Campus Printing would do it. He looked again at the project that had crossed his desk that morning. It was 14 different files—a mishmash of PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. The customer wanted that unruly mess melded into one book, of which she wanted 19—and oh, by the way, could she get them this afternoon?
Working for a municipality facing a projected budget deficit of $2 billion can be a scary proposition. But for Gary McElvaney, mail center manager at the City of Philadelphia’s Mail Processing Center, it has presented an opportunity to help get his employer back in the black. The mail processing center’s 13 employees provide folding, perfing, inserting and mailing services. A separate city agency handles printing of approximately 30,000 water bills per day, as well as other city billing, which is then finished at the mail processing center. All told, the in-plant cranks out 6 million municipal water bills and about 15 million pieces annually.
As in-plants, we all have bosses, and those bosses have much more to worry about than our operations. So the question is, what and how much should we share regarding our operations?