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Pictorial Offset: Putting the Sun to Work

November 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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What's on your roof? Pose that question to the managing partners of Carlstadt, NJ-based Pictorial Offset, and the answer is quite simple.

Dollar signs and a better environment.

Well, technically the correct answer is solar panels. But make no mistake about it, the leadership trio of brothers Donald, Gary and Lester Samuels are not content just to leverage the strength of their "Design to Destination" prowess as a commercial printer. Their outside-the-box thinking didn't stray very far. Call it an atop-the-box philosophy.

"We had been studying solar panels for almost five years," notes Donald Samuels. "It makes for good business sense. In late 2011, we decided to start implementing the project. It entailed a combination of re-roofing the two buildings—including a white roof because it reflects heat in the summer—and the engineering of panels."

Pictorial Offset turned to Solis Partners, of Manasquan, NJ, to orchestrate the project. Solis designed, engineered and constructed the 2,968-panel system that, so far, has reduced Pictorial's electric bill by 40 percent. Touted as the largest solar panel installation by any commercial printing company in the United States, the installation has (at press time) generated 1.15 million kWh since the installation, enough to power 1,255 houses for a month.

In all, the solar panel system's output will match the reduction of more than 1.189 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions during the life of the system. Thus, if one's motivation is environmental responsibility, the financial bottom line or both, the solar photovoltaic route has something for everyone.

The system cost about $4 million in all, though the return on investment (ROI) is somewhat complex to compute, according to Donald Samuels. It was financed, in part, by Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and will be repaid through Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), which is New Jersey's state subsidy for green power. Additionally, Pictorial took advantage of the Section 1603 cash grants in lieu of tax credits for renewable energy offered through 2012 under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

"Basically, we believe that the amortization of the loan will be paid off in about 11 years," he says.

An Era of Change

The previous 11 or so years were also marked by change at Pictorial Offset. The company has evolved significantly since the 21st century got under way, broadening the solution set it offers clients. One of the strongest examples of this was the 2001 debut of Pictorial Mailworks, which handles data processing, mailing and fulfillment.

 

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