DS Graphics : Helping Clients Do MoreMarch 2010 By Erik Cagle
SOME CUSTOMERS view the products manufactured by commercial printers as commodities. And that's just fine with DS Graphics. The Lowell, MA-based firm isn't hell-bent on changing the print buying world's attitude toward print, and is more than secure in its own quality and turnaround time capabilities.
At face value, DS Graphics' forte is printing, mailing and fulfillment. But, after factoring in a multitude of other ancillary offerings, only a little more than one half of its overall business is printing. The company takes a multichannel-services approach based on the fundamental principle of being the best in every aspect of the total value proposition.
"We are not a conventional services provider involved in print communications," contends Jack McGrath, vice president of sales and marketing for DS Graphics. "We have the expertise to go far upstream in strategic discussions with clients. With our knowledge base in both strategic resources and manufacturing, we tend to find better ways for customers to run their businesses. It transcends transactional business and consultative discussions. We try to engender an enterprise-type relationship with our clientele, where there's a lot of feedback between the organizations."
Upping the Ante
DS Graphics has certainly laid the foundation for enabling in-house success, including taking an aggressive position with both capital expenditures and acquisitions that have improved virtually every facet of its operation, particularly sheetfed offset and digital printing. On the latter count, the company raised its game to dizzying heights with the 2009 acquisition of a fellow New England printer, the much-respected LVI Print Optimization.
This came after DS Graphics had already taken delivery of a new 10-color Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 sheetfed perfector press in order to satisfy the growing need for printed products that are produced cheaper, faster and more efficiently. Apparently, President and CEO Jeff Pallis never received the memo about a crippling recession.
"We're committed to the industry, and printing is still generating 50 percent to 60 percent of our revenues," he says. "We're finding that the more efficient we can become as a company, the better it is for both our clients and for our profitability. The efficiencies and quality controls built into the Speedmaster XL 105 are making us more efficient. That's why we've been aggressively upgrading every aspect of our company."
DS Graphics has constantly evolved since its 1974 founding by Jim Pallis as a commercial shop. The company thrived by doing work in the computer hardware space in the 1980s and, in the following decade, refocused on inventory management and fulfillment. At the dawn of the new millennium, it became clear that digital printing and mailing services would enable DS Graphics to continue its growth.