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Colorwheel Printing?Wheeling and Dealing in Indy

February 1998
Peers held Bippus Printing in high regard. All around Indianapolis, printing companies would outsource work to Bippus, knowing that the jobs would receive expert care. Bippus was a name they could trust.

"We were always known as a printer's printer," says President Paul Bippus Jr.

This position, while impressive, wasn't enough for Bippus Printing. Not content to serve only printers, the organization decided it was time to market its services directly to print buyers. That meant a different approach to business.

Bippus chose a new name, a new logo. The new name?

Colorwheel Printing. The new logo? A bright wheel, spinning with all the colors of the rainbow, leaning forward like a tire tearing into asphalt.

The logo sends a clear message: Colorwheel can print any color under the sun—quickly.

That wasn't always the case. Up until a decade ago, Colorwheel only printed one- and two-color jobs. The company upped its color ante in the late '80s with the addition of a six-color, 28˝ Akiyama 628 sheetfed press. Now Colorwheel turns out brochures and publications shining with CMYK and spot colors.

Colorwheel still outputs one- and two-color jobs on MAN Miehle and Hamada sheetfed presses. However, the family-owned company bears little resemblance to the business Paul Bippus Sr. opened in 1965. The original Bippus Printing fit snugly in a small storefront; Colorwheel now sprawls across a spacious 22,000-square-foot facility.

The company's work force has also gotten bigger over the past three decades. It now employs 20 people, including two of Paul Sr.'s sons (Paul Jr. and Mike) and a daughter (Kelly). That's something the founder never intended.

Now retired, Paul Sr. didn't want his children to follow in his footsteps. He was afraid that work-related squabbles would turn the siblings against each other.

"Working in a family business can strain family relations," Paul Jr. notes.

Strain, yes. Break, no. At least not at Colorwheel.

Family Function
How does Colorwheel's second generation avoid sibling rivalry? By analyzing problems rationally instead of emotionally, Paul Jr. answers. Keep your perspective, he advises, and you'll never fail. Don't confuse regular business with family business.

The siblings' dedication and determination surpassed their father's convictions. Assured that they could work well together, Paul Sr. allowed his progeny into the shop. But the brothers and sister didn't get preferential treatment. They had to prove themselves just like other employees.

Paul Jr., Mike and Kelly remember the early days: working in the bindery, sweeping floors. They've moved up since then. Mike now earns his salary in the pressroom. Kelly balances the books in accounting. And Paul Jr. fills his father's shoes.

Paul Jr. began his illustrious career at the family business when he was in grade school. As a youngster, he collated NCR paper by hand. He did odd jobs around the shop during high school. While studying for his degree in industrial management, he spent his summers running letterpresses. After graduating, he worked his way up to sales and management.

In a sense, Paul Jr. and the shop grew up together. As he matured, so did the company. The staff got larger, the equipment got better, and the sales kept climbing. In fact, Colorwheel recently hit the $2 million mark for the first time ever.

Why the sudden growth spurt? Paul Jr. credits a newly installed six-color, 40˝ Akiyama 640 with aqueous coater. He says the press' versatility has drawn more business from the Indianapolis-area schools and businesses that Colorwheel serves. The company can now handle a variety of six-color runs with a 40˝ format.

"We basically received more work out of our customer base," Paul Jr. explains.

This is Colorwheel's second Akiyama installation. However, this one was planned well in advance. The first installation was a fluke.

In June of 1987, Colorwheel executives attended a trade show with the express purpose of purchasing a sheetfed press. They had a model in mind, and it wasn't an Akiyama.

"We never even heard of Akiyama," Paul Jr. admits.

Second Choice
After coming across an Akiyama press on the show floor, the executives decided to meet with company representatives. The Colorwheel crew liked what it heard. It also liked that the Akiyama press could do so much for so little.

Colorwheel bought a 28˝ model. Paul Jr. doesn't regret the choice.

"The Akiyama has been an impressive piece of machinery," he says. "We've had it for 10 years and have not had a single problem. So when we went shopping for a 40˝, we didn't consider anything else. Akiyama builds a beautiful press."

A beautiful press that yields beautiful results. That's important. Colorwheel takes great pride in its quality, as well as its price and service. Most printers do. Still, Paul Jr. notes that very few printers actually deliver the quality, price and service they promise.

"With Colorwheel, you get more bang for your buck," Paul Jr. claims. "Everybody can say those things, but how many people can prove it? We feel like we do."

—Jerry Janda
 

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