PrimeNet Direct Marketing Solutions : Addressing the EnvironmentAugust 2012 By Julie Greenbaum, Associate Editor
The hurricane season of 2004 was a year that Mark Keefe, president and owner of PrimeNet Direct Marketing Solutions, and his staff would like to forget. As hurricane Charlie touched down on Tampa Bay, he realized just how unprepared his Largo, FL-based printing company was to handle a storm of this magnitude, let alone the three hurricanes that followed.
"Every time a storm would come through in 2004, our business and homes would lose power for days," recalls Keefe. "At that time, we were working out of three separate buildings—across a parking lot—that were not hurricane proof and we didn't have a plan in place. As a precaution, we loaded up semis and sent key equipment up to Atlanta to wait out the storms. I spent more than $200,000 that year on trucking charges alone. We also had to wrap every piece of machinery in cellophane."
The final straw for Keefe, however, was when his architect assessed one of the buildings and told him that the roof was so unstable that it could actually blow off. "I shared my concerns with our landlord at the time who indicated that's what insurance was for. I looked at him and said, 'I need to keep the business running.' "
A Smooth Move
To protect the company from natural disasters, Keefe moved the 50-year-old business into a new 55,000-square-foot facility last August. Located nine miles away from its previous plant, the move took about six months to complete. "We were printing at both locations for a while. In the midst of the move, we installed a new four-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 at our new plant, while we kept our other presses running in our previous location," he explains. "There were no interruptions in workflow, and we never missed a mail date."
With an additional branch in Minneapolis, the direct marketing operation employs a staff of 100, and serves hundreds of clients across the country. The company caters to a wide variety of verticals, including the educational, financial, hospitality, auto, health, retail services and home improvement segments. Some of the services it offers include sheetfed offset printing, digital output with variable data/personalization capabilities, data analytics, list management, Web-to-print capabilities and personalized URL campaigns. Printed products include postcards, self-mailers, and letters as small as #9 up to a jumbo 9x12˝.
In addition to the Heidelberg Speedmaster 74, the company currently operates a four-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 72, a five-color Didde web press and a two-color Halm Jet envelope press. A Xerox iGen3 and an iGen4; three Xerox DocuTech 180 HLC color presses; a Xerox DocuTech 128 HLC color press; and a four-color Xerox Phaser 77606X round out the digital printing division. A new Oris Color Tuner System was added to help meet GRACoL color specifications.
PrimeNet also maintains an in-house bindery, and full mailing and fulfillment services, with an onsite USPS detached mail unit.
According to Jack Flick, PrimeNet's director of data services, the firm plans to make upgrades to its prepress department next year, and has already started to look at several options. He also foresees plenty of growth opportunities in four-color digital printing, using the company's existing iGen presses to take its personalization capabilities even further."
Since moving into the new building last year, Keefe has instituted several disaster recovery and energy-saving measures. For example, he had external barriers installed to control the climate and keep heat outside, and all of the windows were coated to reflect heat. All plant doors were also given a sun-reflective and insulated covering, to seal out the heat and the damage from hurricanes.
The facility is now hurricane Category 3 certified and its data center within the building is in a Category 5 certified bunker. Diesel generators provide a backup in the event of a power failure. A comprehensive disaster recovery manual has also been created by PrimeNet's executive team.
"We go through countdown steps when storms are beating on us," emphasizes Keefe. "For example, we recently completed our sixth electrical power test, where we kill the power and test to see if the machines and the emergency lights are running, or if anything went wrong."
In the past year, Keefe has also implemented many eco-friendly initiatives, including a comprehensive recycling program; the use of soy-based offset inks and water-compatible inkjet inks; and forklifts that run on battery power. PrimeNet's AC filter program is also designed to ensure that all AC units are running at maximum efficiency, and that all facility thermostats are set at a constant temperature of 74 degrees and 80 degrees in off hours. Other additions include a low-voltage, DC motor that runs air through filters to suck up dust; and automatic shut-off light switches and motion-activated lights throughout the plant.
"In less than a year, we have been able to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 percent," says Keefe, who adds that the firm regularly monitors its electrical consumption and conducts energy audits to ensure usage is flat or down. "We also save about 26 percent on our energy bills and receive a recycling reimbursement of about $25,000 a year."
The sustainability effort PrimeNet has made so far has saved the equivalent of 6,336 trees a year, and has earned it certification by the National Association for Information Destruction.
Last November, PrimeNet held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an open house to showcase its new facility to prospects and customers. "Reactions have been nothing but positive so far," notes Keefe. "They like the fact that it is clean, safe and well-organized. We also have plenty of meeting space."
Since June 1st marked the start of the hurricane season, Keefe remains calm and assured that his business will remain standing. "We have practiced, learned and simulated, and are now at the highest level of readiness than we have ever been," he concludes.
"I can now shift my focus on growing the company—adding more staff and enhancing our printing capabilities. We will also continue to build upon our direct mail business, make sure our lists are as clean as possible and take full advantage of the many workshare discounts that the USPS offers. PI