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E&M BINDERY -- Aggressive About Service

August 2002

There is as much variation in company owners as there is in the companies themselves. This is what makes competition great; there are hundreds of ways to run a successful company. For some owners, the plan might go something like this: Target a specific market niche; pursue clients in that niche; and sit comfortably on a steady—and hopefully predictable—revenue stream.

Gary Markovits, president of E&M Bindery in Clifton, NJ, sees things a little differently. "My wife always says to me, 'Your company is doing well. Why not sit back and relax?' " laughs Markovits. "But that isn't the way I am. I owe it to my customers, both now and in the future, to give them as much as possible for their money. Without any forward growth, I'd fall behind."

In the past four years, Markovits has seen E&M Bindery double its revenues to more than $6.3 million last year. During that time, the company moved from one side of the Hudson River to the other, brought in several new pieces of equipment, and added employees and services under its expanded roof.

As Markovits sees it, such aggressive growth is the result of his tireless pursuit to answer a single question: How can we give our customers what they want under one roof, and provide maximum value for their money?

E&M Bindery's path of steady growth began in 1998, when Markovits moved his trade bindery from a quirky loft in Long Island City, NY, to a much more spacious facility in Clifton, NJ. The move was designed to bring the company closer to a New Jersey-heavy customer base clamoring for quality postpress services on their side of the George Washington Bridge. But it didn't take them too far from their strong contingent of Manhattan customers, either.

"The move to New Jersey was definitely customer-driven," recalls Markovits. "We were in that Long Island facility for more than 10 years, and it wasn't ideal for a growing business. The move made sense for us, and it made sense for our customers. Clifton is just 20 minutes outside of New York City, and we think it's an ideal location from which to serve all of our customers."

Apparently, those customers have agreed. E&M Bindery has increased sales by nearly $1 million each year since the move. With increased revenues of that magnitude have come expanded services. E&M has added several new pieces of equipment that either upgraded existing capabilities or added new ones. The most recent addition is a Muller Martini Norm adhesive binder, which runs at speeds as high as 12,000 books per hour and is capable of handling two-up, double digest work.

"The Norm has really rounded out our perfect binding capabilities," explains Markovits. "We've had the machine for a little more than six months, and the huge upgrade in capacity it provides has been evident from day one. We have it set up to handle PUR adhesive binding, which gives our customers a wide range of perfect binding options from which to choose."

An expanded slate of services also means an expanded range of customers. One market in which E&M Bindery looks to make further inroads is publishing. Markovits is aware of his company's location advantage, and believes that E&M's perfect binding capabilities are a great fit.

"We have some of the finest adhesive binding capabilities in the area," he says. "Though we do have some publishing clients, we have plenty of capacity to handle more."

In addition to high-speed perfect binding, E&M Bindery offers several mechanical binding options, including spiral wire, plastic coil, and fully- and semi-concealed Wire-O. Additional services include folding, cutting, collating, spot and fugitive gluing, wafer sealing, die scoring, shrink wrapping and much more.

"Our goal is to offer our customers a desirable range of high-quality postpress services," adds Markovits. "We aim to be a true one-stop shop for postpress services, and our customers know they can count on us for quality, service and price. That's important in order to be successful in this region and in this economy."

As a prominent player in the New York metropolitan region, E&M Bindery has found itself in the middle of a fiercely competitive printing and postpress services market. According to Markovits, the dismal economy, coupled with the region's gradual recovery from the September 11th tragedy, have forced everyone to cut prices.

"Everything that has happened in the past six to nine months has really tightened the screws on the graphic arts industry," he notes. "Everything needs to be turned around faster and cheaper, both on the bindery side and on the printing side. Fortunately, we have the firepower to handle the rush. And we've been able to maintain decent growth because our customers know they can trust us for the highest quality and best service."

Markovits points to this year's annual report season as an especially strong one for E&M. In addition, the company has recently seen an increase in projects from advertising, telecommunications and pharmaceutical companies that have beefed up their print marketing.

"We have yet to see quote requests from commercial printers and financial customers inch back toward more traditional levels. And we did a good annual report business this year, though the reports themselves were thinner and had less color than in years past," he says.

Eye on the Industry

Despite the challenges of a weakened economy, Markovits has kept one eye focused on what lays ahead for both the company and the industry. An aggressive attitude has spurred significant growth for E&M Bindery, and he isn't about to mellow now.

"I see no reason not to be aggressive in improving our value to customers. We're constantly looking for ways to offer more services so that customers don't have to stray from a company they trust to get quality work done."

Although upgraded mechanical binding and folding capabilities are slated for completion within a year, growth won't be limited to new equipment. As E&M looks to add new services, Markovits hasn't ruled out the possibility of an acquisition.

"There are several directions we could go when it comes to bringing new capabilities under our umbrella," reveals Markovits. "Diecutting, mailing and fulfillment, ink-jetting . . . these are all services we're thinking of adding because our customers demand them. Acquiring a company with these capabilities might make the most sense, should we choose to go in any of these directions."

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