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Bramkamp Printing : Building a Graphic Village

April 2010 By Julie Greenbaum
Associate Editor
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On the digital end, the company operates the DocuColor 5000, a DocuColor 240, a DocuColor 12, a DocuTech 6100 with interposer, DocuTech 6180, DocuPrint 115MX, as well as an HP 2000CP and two HP 3000CP wide-format printers.

Finishing gear consists of various Polar cutters and Stahl folders, a Baum folder, a six-pocket Muller Martini stitcher with cover feeder, and a range of Kluge diecutters and hot stamping presses. Its mailing operation houses a six-station Bell & Howell inserter and a Kodak Versamark ink-jet system.

"The expansion into digital printing and mailing sparked 15 percent growth from 2008 to 2009," explains Kuhlman. "Currently, we are experiencing growth through cross-media campaigns that incorporate variable data, personalized URLs and e-mail followup. We have been a two-shift operation for many years."

The company also produces a wide range of printed products, including sell sheets, brochures, newsletters, annual reports, window decals, static cling and storefront signage, billboard wraps, vinyl banners and outdoor signage.

Last year, Bramkamp posted close to $7 million in sales. With a staff of 44 employees, it boasts more than 200 customers both locally and nationally. Jobs can be submitted by e-mail or through Bramkamp's Web-to-print system.

Some of the biggest challenges Kuhlman and Murray feel the industry faces today are the Internet's impact on print media and an overabundance of equipment in the hands of printers that compromise their margins below profitable returns. "Printers are ignoring the variable expenses and complexity of a project and putting customer expectations aside when pricing work," stresses Murray.

"We should all be convincing clients that we're true partners who can help grow their businesses, versus just vendors furnishing them with an inanimate product."

Great Expectations

Due to the economy, Bramkamp has seen some of its larger customers cut back their marketing spend. "But, we've been able to show them an increased ROI with what limited marketing dollars that remain," Kuhlman explains. "While price wars in our industry are common, we have chosen not to participate because we're not willing to compromise our service and quality levels."

In January, Bramkamp was awarded the 2010 Maxwell Award, which is given annually to a graphic arts organization that has distinguished itself in the manner of Cincinnati's first printer, William Maxwell. The organization should be forward thinking, a market leader and recognizable for its contributions to the industry.

Last year, Bramkamp was also named a small business of the year finalist by the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce and named a Blue Ribbon Small Business by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (one of only 50 small businesses nationally).

Moving forward, the company plans to grow organically with its existing clientele. "Despite the waning economy, we hope this year will bring a return to double-digit growth and increased profits," concludes Kuhlman. "We firmly believe that we can be a $10 million operation, as well as a profit leader in our industry." PI



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