Brown's Bindery: Trade Shop: Bound to Please
Many trade binderies have closed in recent years due to the “one-stop-shop” philosophy of printers, but Brown’s Bindery in Columbia, SC, has remained successful for nearly three decades, providing overflow work along with specialized binding and finishing.
“What sets Brown’s Bindery apart is that there is a family member ensuring the job is done efficiently and on time at every stage of the customer’s job,” explains Tara Allison, CFO at Brown’s Bindery and daughter of the founder. Allison works at the company with her brothers, Ronny Brown and Paul Brown, who are both vice presidents. “With us, you’ll have a Brown involved for every service,” she says.
“We’re bound to please” serves as the company’s motto, and customer service is certainly a top priority. “We take our work seriously and appreciate our clients,” remarks Jeff Wright, lead customer service representative. From the day doors first opened, the goal at Brown’s Bindery has remained the same: to create top-quality pieces with quick turnaround times, for a competitive price.
Those doors opened in 1984 when Jimmy Brown launched a company of his own after 25 years in the binding and finishing industry. After leaving the U.S. Air Force, he worked for local printers, starting out as an assistant and working his way up to bindery supervisor. After he founded Brown’s Bindery, his wife, two sons and a daughter joined the company, making it a real family affair. Currently, two grandsons work there, as well.
Allison explains that with the turn of the economy, Brown’s Bindery has downsized a bit. “We currently operate with two shifts and 30 full-time employees,” she notes. Although it’s difficult to find skilled labor, Brown’s has been successful in training people with a desire to learn the industry. “The majority of our machine operators are long-time employees,” she adds.
The bindery operates out of a 50,000-square-foot facility, an upgrade from the 2,000-square-foot building Jimmy Brown started with. Through the years, the equipment has changed, too.
“Nowadays, the equipment is much more efficient,” remarks Wright. “For instance, we started with a single-clamp Sulby perfect binder that ran 300 books per hour, and now we run a 24-pocket Kolbus perfect binder with signature recognition that runs 8,000 books per hour.” That’s more than a 2,500 percent increase of efficiency. “We had one pile-feed folding machine,” Wright continues, “and now we operate four continuous-feed folders with 26×40˝ and miniature folding capabilities.”
Brown’s Bindery offers perfect binding, including PUR; saddlestitching with fourth and fifth knife capability; Wire-O, plastic coil and comb binding; 40˝ diecutting; drilling; folding; film laminating; and remoistenable, cold and fugitive gluing. All services are completed on some of the most modern equipment in the industry. In addition to overflow jobs, some of the work the company performs is specialized, for which hand work services are offered.
“We have worked hard at expanding our customer base,” Wright emphasizes. “Our clients reach from Tennessee to Virginia to the Carolinas, all the way down to Florida.”
Customers are made and kept thanks to the company’s attention to detail, quality and customer service. “As the printing industry continues to change, we will adapt to our customers’ needs in producing jobs and purchasing new equipment,” he says. “We look forward to the challenges ahead of us.” PI