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BINDERY MANAGEMENT -- Flourishing At Finishing

March 2002

Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on bindery and finishing operations when it comes to a lack of respect. Or at least that's how things traditionally had been in the industry.

Process automation—with the obligatory keyboards, LCD displays and digital readouts—is starting to give the machinery that high-tech aura. At the same time, on-demand production and workflow integration efforts like CIP4 are highlighting the integral role postpress operations play in the overall process. The market segment's profile may never have been higher.

It's understandable, though, if independent trade binders still feel a little picked on. Printers have been nibbling away at the market by bringing more postpress capabilities in-house. Also, the onus continues to be put on postpress operations to overcome any shortcomings in job planning or earlier production steps.

Whether they be independent companies or internal departments, successful bindery and finishing operations are finding ways to meet these challenges. There are similarities and differences in their approaches, depending on their positioning in the market.

One success strategy for independent trade binders is specialization, recommends Bruce Boyarsky, president of Ocean State Book Binding in Providence, RI. This means focusing on services that printers can't realistically justify bringing in-house, or at least not at the same productivity and quality level, he explains.

Part of his competitive strategy entails investing in new high-speed, automated equipment. Developing a high level of expertise and proficiency in a specialty is the other part, he adds. This can enable a shop to offer quicker turnarounds and be more responsive than the competition—whether that be another trade binder or in-house department.

Boyarsky personally is optimistic about the business opportunities, and he's obviously willing to put his money where is mouth is considering he just bought the trade bindery about 18 months ago. However, he concedes his search turned up a lot of owners looking to sell their bindery businesses.

All Bases Covered

Ocean State's list of services previously covered the basics, including cutting, folding, stitching, short-run perfect binding, drilling, round cornering and shrink-wrapping. Since taking over, Boyarsky has put his business philosophy to work by investing in automated equipment for mechanical binding (Wire-O, Plastikoil, GBC), adding capabilities to do smaller folds (down to about 1˝) and installing a padding machine.

"Customers had to go a lot further away to get this work done before, which made them less competitive," he says.

Ocean State has grown tremendously over the last year, but it's still a smaller company (10 employees). He thinks the company's size can work to its clients' advantage, since the shop can be more responsive to their needs.

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