Brian Twilley is a man on a mission, of sorts. Since acquiring Atlantic & Hastings Printers LLC from his father in 1994, Twilley has been transforming this small printer “in the hinterlands” into a professional powerhouse that can go toe-to-toe with big-city printers. “We’re the only printer of our size within 60 miles,” notes the CEO of this Salisbury, MD-based printer, “and we’ve grown the business to the point where we’ve been bumping heads with shops in the surrounding cities for about two years now.”

Twilley describes his operation as a half-size sheetfed shop with five-color capability and an in-house bindery that can handle all of the basic finishing processes. It currently occupies a 25,000-square-foot facility and employs about 30 people.

Considering the capital investments required to keep a printer competitive in today’s business environment, Twilley believes small- to mid-size operations like Atlantic & Hastings need to grow in order to succeed over the long term. “As painful as it is to say, we have to think of ourselves as manufacturers and should be moving toward operating on a 24/7 basis,” he advises.

In the early days of its current growth program, Twilley says the printer followed the traditional path. “You try to get as much work as you can and throw it into the pipeline, then hope something falls out the back end,” he explains. “You can’t operate that way any longer if you’re going to be an $8 to $10 million—or maybe even $20 million—printer. You must have your operation under control.”

Atlantic & Hastings’ leadership is now taking a systematic approach to growth and managing the business, Twilley reveals. Recently, it has been concentrating on implementing a computer-to-plate solution to establish a completely digital prepress workflow. “We went digital in order to expand our market and to be able to do more work. It also helps with turnaround, which is our main business challenge today.”

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