In-plant Graphics October 2009
IT STARTED in the parking lot. As he stepped out of his car one day, Greg Cooper, print shop manager for the city of Baltimore's Digital Document Division, happened to run into the city's IT director. They started talking about the checks and bills that IT was printing for the city on its Xerox 92C printers. Cooper told him, flat out, that his in-plant was better positioned to handle this work than IT, whose main focus was supposed to be computers and data.
Steve Schmuger, graphic services manager for Miami-Dade County’s General Services Administration, can summarize one of his most important job responsibilities into three words: feeding the organism. Schmuger envisions the shop’s workflow as a dynamic, vital entity. “It can do more and more things for you, but you must keep feeding it—that is, investing in technology and adding more components,” he asserts.
For years there has been a glut of annual in-plant conferences. Not counting trade show round tables, there are no less than six separate conferences each year: ACUP, IPMA, NGPA, Big Ten, SUPDMC and TACUP. Each has its history and its loyal fan base. And despite some overlap, each group has more or less competed against the others. This finally came to a head this month when three of these groups set their conference dates within weeks of one another. Each has struggled to pull in attendees, but travel restrictions have thwarted them.
It was one of the most important printing jobs of the year...yet it was being printed off campus. That bothered the provost at Longwood University, in rural Farmville, Va. He began asking why the school was paying an outside vendor to print its diplomas instead of sending them to its five-employee in-plant. When word reached Tim Trent, director of Printing Services, he just smiled. His shop was three weeks away from installing a new Xerox 700 digital color press, a device he knew would be more than capable of printing diplomas. Trent invited the provost to visit in a few weeks.
WE LIVE in a multi-channel world where print is just one component of customer communications. As an in-plant printer in difficult economic times, you should consider how you can provide additional value to your organization. This may be through mailing and fulfillment services or a greater focus on applications that go into the mail stream—like direct mail, transaction and transpromo—using a personalized (1:1) communications strategy.
TO BE FAIR, the sorry state of the economy made it almost impossible for PRINT 09 to be a rousing success. Show floor traffic was so slow on the opening day (Friday), it was speculated that someone forgot to flip the sign in the front window at McCormick Place from "closed" to "open for business." And one had to question the logic of conducting a long, weekend-wraparound show on the first week of pro football season, when no one (it was presumed) would be coming to Chicago, let alone spending.
CHEMISTRY DEFINITELY has its place: in science fairs, laboratories and love. However, more and more in-plants are displacing chemistry in favor of greener, cleaner workflows. Platemaking is one of the areas getting the enviro-overhaul. Here, five in-plants recount their transitions to chemistry-free computer-to-plate (CTP). And despite our best efforts to document the bad along with the good, these in-plants claim to have had very few reservations—and even fewer regrets.
AS A CHILD, Mark Shaw dreamed of flying to the stars. And though his current role as operations specialist for National Security Technologies, LLC (NSTec) isn’t exactly the same as being an astronaut, it’s still his dream job. “It’s fascinating,” he enthuses. “It motivates me. The brilliance of the scientists there, it’s amazing.”
IT MAY not be a popular topic among in-plants, but sending work to outside printers is often a necessary part of an in-plant manager's job. After all, in-plants can't possibly print everything in-house. Still, some managers don't like to admit that. "At some industry conferences, it has been like hypocrisy talking about print procurement," admits Joe Tucker, administrator of State Printing and Mail Services for the state of Ohio.