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Flower City Printing — Going Above and Beyond

June 2008 By Julie Greenbaum
Associate Editor
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MOST PRINTING industry folks would agree that one of the biggest problems that the industry faces today is getting the younger generation interested in the trade, and shedding the “ink under the fingernails” perception.

Rochester, NY-based Flower City Printing (FCP), one of the largest, privately held, large-format sheetfed offset printers in the United States, has gone out of its way time and again to seek solutions to the challenge, offering plant tours, workshops and even partnering with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to generate interest.

Flower City Printing has reached out to many high school and college students to show them how technology has come a long way since their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. “We have shown students that the ‘ink under the fingernails’ perception is no longer true, with the use of automatic washups and ink pumping stations,” explains Mark Ashworth, president of Flower City Printing. “Here at FCP, we are mostly computer driven, so we must continue to get young and talented people excited about this business if we are going to continue to play.”

Printing Plant Tours

This year alone, the printer has hosted three tour groups with more than 100 graphic arts students from nearby Hilton High School. One student in particular was so enthused about the tour, he plans to pursue a career in commercial printing. Today, the company has about 10 Hilton High School graduates that work in its prepress, pressroom and finishing departments.

The company also hosts Flower City Print Academy, a two-day, semi-annual seminar for clients, prospects and new employees. Participants are taught the entire production process from start to finish—tracking a job through a typical workflow. Participants also get the opportunity to attend RIT for a half-day of instruction.

“RIT has been an invaluable resource for us over the years. We have many graduates who work here, and many co-op students have passed through on their way to careers in the industry,” Ashworth points out. “RIT also has an excellent testing lab that we use in our non-conformance investigations.”

Based in Rochester—also known as the “Flower City”—since 1970, the company was founded by five partners and transitioned from a trade-like shop to a commercial printer in just six months time. In 1991, when a client needed litho labels printed, the company purchased its first large-format press, a 55˝ Planeta, which paved its way into the large-format segment.

“Many large-format printers at that time were downsizing to grasp a lot of the technology that was available specifically on 40˝ and smaller presses, such as automatic makeready stations,” recalls Bill Oliveri, president of FCP’s parent company, Flower City Group. “But our decision to upsize gave us a really nice window into the large-format arena.”

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