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Eckhart & Co. -- Breaking Boundaries

October 2003
For most graphic arts companies, there is a clearly defined market from which the majority of customers are drawn. This market is typically defined by the company's size, core competencies, and the size and needs of the geographical region in which it exists.

Every so often, a company will break out of that pattern and create a business model that expands its market base beyond those traditional boundaries. Eckhart & Co., located in Indianapolis, has done just that. A potent combination of desirable manufacturing capabilities and honest customer service has allowed Eckhart to blossom into a complete postpress services provider with a roster of clients that stretches from coast to coast.

Brothers and business partners Brent (left) and Chris Eckhart.
"We started life as a local trade bindery," recalls Brent Eckhart, co-owner of the company with his brother Chris. "But we've come a long way from that."

Eckhart & Co. was founded in 1918 by Brent and Chris' grand-father as a trade bindery serving local printers, specializing in cutting, folding, inserting and saddle stitching. In 1956, the company reins were turned over to his son, Bill Eckhart. It didn't take long for him to realize that the company would have to expand its services to keep pace with the changing needs of customers.

"As cutting, folding and stitching equipment became more affordable, more printers began bringing these capabilities in-house," explains Bill Eckhart. "So we focused our attention on adding services that printers really craved, but were loath to try to do themselves."

Adding Services

At Eckhart & Co.'s Indianapolis-based headquarters, two fully automatic Bielomatik mechanical binding machines are key to providing punching and binding in a single pass—and keeping the operators busy.
The result was the addition of mechanical binding and loose-leaf manufacturing capabilities at Eckhart in the mid-'60s. Although the two distinct services gave Eckhart footholds in different markets, the similarity between the two processes made it very attractive to perform both under one roof.

"Our expansion into mechanical binding and loose-leaf manufacturing really propelled our company," adds Bill Eckhart. "We continued to build a stable of loyal clients who appreciated our honest customer service and high quality standards, and continued to look for new markets that would appreciate those attributes."
 

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