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Self-Promo Pumps Profits —Sherburne

January 2008
SPEAKING WITH print service providers, I always find it interesting to learn how they justify investments, particularly in digital printing technology. In many ways, it can be a chicken-and-egg scenario. While most realize that eventually they must get into digital printing in some way, shape or form, do you wait until you have volume locked up, or do you purchase the equipment with the plan to generate the new business?

Sometimes, printers will have outsourced volumes that justify procurement of a new digital device. But other times they simply see a new market need that must be addressed in order to stay competitive. Seldom do they seem to factor into this decision their own marketing needs.

I recently came across a very different story, though. It has been a year since I last wrote extensively about self-promotion. This seemed like a good time to revisit that topic, especially in a scenario that blends self-promotion with the generation of new business in a proactive and creative way that puts a totally different spin on the concept of value-added services.

In 2003, Bill Brown and his wife Kathy moved to Monument, CO, from Southern California and were looking for a business in which to invest.

“We stumbled across Tri-Lakes Printing,” recounts Brown. The business had been in existence since 1984, and it was operating with a black-and-white ABDick 360 duplicator using electrostatic plates. Little investment had been made in technology.

The Browns immediately set about updating the technology by adding a two-color press and CTP. They had a two-year plan to add a four-color press. The Browns were so successful with their new business that they were able to acquire the four-color model in just six months. But two years later, they realized they needed even more capability and, in November of 2006, they replaced their four-color press with a Presstek DI press.

“When we bought the business,” says Brown, “it was only generating $450,000 in annual revenues. We ran the operation with the two of us and three part-time employees.”

Today, Tri-Lakes employs 10 full-time people, three of whom are graphic designers, and generates annual revenues of $1.5 million. They are building a new 10,000-square-foot facility that will increase production space from 1,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet.

“It will be a state-of-the-art center,” Brown says. “It will include a design center and will cater to our retail business, since we get a lot of people walking in to make copies.”
 

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