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COPY CONCEPTS -- Going Near-line

September 2002
When PhilL Shirley and Brian Stone founded Copy Concepts in 1991, it appeared that another run-of-the mill copy center would dot the retail landscape outside Dallas. But the business plan crafted by the 21-year-old entrepreneurs focused on creating a distinct niche as a digital pioneer—not competing as a traditional offset printer.


Copy Concepts principals (from the left) Phil Shirley and Brian Stone, along with graphic arts dealer Pat Mallams of Bindery Systems, review output of their Standard Hunkeler unwinder, Oce printers and rotary cutter and stacker.
From the beginning, Copy Concepts has operated in an ink-free, toner-based world, and it has recognized the need to invest in top-of-the-line, print-on-demand (POD) technology. Yet in the last few years, the shop has also realized that its digital journey wouldn't be complete until it crossed into the final frontier of on-demand finishing.

Catching the just-developing POD wave in the early '90s, Copy Concepts made its first major investment—one of the first Xerox DocuTechs sold to a quick print shop.

"Since our inception, we wanted to keep pace with the latest advancements in digital technology," says Stone. "Just as important, we believed that educating our customers to new print-on-demand solutions would be critical to our success."

So, what started as a routine copy center with three employees in 2,500 square feet of retail space, has evolved into a 90-employee, full-service POD leader in a 23,000-square-foot facility in Irving, TX, that meets the quality and fast-turnaround demands of more than 1,000 business accounts. Customers now include local, as well as national companies, thanks to a merger in 2000 between Copy Concepts and Rochester, NY-based PlanetPrint Inc.

On-demand Finishing

A key turning point for Copy Concepts occurred three years before its merger. "To meet the rising expectations of our growing business accounts, we needed to complement our prepress desktop capabilities and our seven digital print engines," recalls Stone.

Building on its existing tabletop finishing equipment—including popular mechanical binding systems—Copy Concepts resolved it would establish a state-of-the-art bindery and keep jobs in-house.

"We always wanted to control our destiny," says Shirley. "But, as it turned out, when we started our postpress operations, we outsourced most of our jobs to a trade bindery anyway. So even though we had expanded our capabilities, we remained hostage, compromising our ability to control quality and turnaround time."
 

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