News 23 October 2014
Impressions Printing makes a colourful move
By John Zarwan
- LOCATION St. Thomas, ON. SIZE 20,000 sq. ft. (Three centres: production, warehouse, and distribution)
- EMPLOYEES 30
- SERVICES General commercial,manuals, direct mail, kitting, distribution and mailing
- CUSTOMERS Local industrial companies, financial services, small and mid-size businesses, agencies and marketing firms
Impressions Printing has operated in southern Ontario for more than 40 years serving a wide array of customers, from Fortune 500 companies to individual consumers. That diversity, notes president and coowner Cory Stuart, has enabled the company to thrive despite the economic downturn of recent years.
Stuart says Impressions Printing invests in new equipment and technology to meet the needs of its clients. For example, its 2010 move into digital was driven by the needs of a large multi-national industrial client. A producer of thousands of versioned products, the company wanted the ability to order instruction manuals every day based on its own production output.
Impressions considered using its small offset press to handle the job, but with platemaking, makeready and other associated processes, turnaround would be too slow
and not cost-effective enough. Instead, the company acquired a Kodak Digimaster 9110 monochrome digital press, allowing it to produce the manuals and related materials on demand and as needed.
The added digital monochrome capability fed demand for short-run colour as well. Impressions printed much of this work in-house using its Speedmaster and Quickmaster offset presses. Jobs that required digital or were uneconomical for offset were outsourced to a local digital
printer—in return, Impressions Printing would handle that company’s offset work.
Thanks to the success of that relationship and the increasing demand for variable and short-run colour jobs, business grew to a point where Impressions could justify the purchase of its own digital press.
SOLUTION Colour your world
Stuart and his team evaluated a range of options. A long-time Kodak customer using Kodak workflow, CTP, and plates (see sidebar), and already in possession of a Digimaster, the company gravitated to the Kodak NexPress.
“The Digimaster and NexPress are truly presses; the others are more like copiers. The [Kodak presses] provide very high quality and great speed, which are important to us and to our clients,” Stuart says. Impressions looked at the short-run work it was doing on the Speedmaster and saw that some jobs could be printed more efficiently on a digital device. “We felt we could move a lot of work on to the NexPress at higher margins, and still continue to run the longer and larger run lengths on our Speedmaster without breaking down for shorter quantity runs,” says Stuart.
With the installation of the Kodak NexPress S3000, the company expanded into full-colour digital services late last year. Stuart says an extensive colour gamut was one of the machine’s top selling points, along with its ability to accommodate a wide range of substrate types, sizes, weights, and thicknesses, including more than 800 standard offset substrates. Now the company can produce a host of new applications, from “little things like business cards, to flyers and brochures, direct mail, and some very cool variable projects.”
RESULTS New capabilities, new growth
“We are now able to handle all of our digital work under one roof [and] can produce practically every print-related product that our clients request,” says Stuart. “The quality of the work is comparable to what we would have done on offset, but we are meeting quicker turnarounds and have greater flexibility.”
The NexPress also features a fifth unit that Impressions assigns to clear ink for spot glossing. Stuart plans to purchase an additional fifth unit feature every quarter.
“We’ve used the clear gloss quite a bit on applications, especially for postcards and brochures. Some clients are now contacting us directly with digital work just for these enhanced features. It’s allowed us to tap into new markets we couldn’t reach before,” he says.
Along with the variable colour and monochrome digital work that continues to grow, the company also sees potential in wide format and already manages program production for one national restaurant chain, including banners, posters, and marketing collateral. “We offer them a complete program including kitting, shipping and billing. People want it right and on time. We outsource with partners, and we don’t directly compete. They know our plan,” explains Stuart. By bringing digital capabilities in-house, Impressions Printing has nearly doubled its business, he says.
John Zarwan is an internationally known consultant concentrating on business development, profit improvement, and marketing strategy.