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George H. Dean Co. Printing -- Financial And Beyond

August 2003
by chris bauer

It can be easy for a commercial printer to get pigeon-holed into being thought of as only a niche-market company. So while Braintree, MA-based George H. Dean Co. Printing has been known as primarily a legal and financial printer (it was the second company to file a registration statement with the SEC in 1933, missing by minutes of being the first), current President Ken Michaud is quick to point out that his company is quite diverse and serves a variety of markets.

"Although our background was in financial printing, we're much more diversified now," Michaud explains. "We produce a wide range of material for many different industry groups. Our clientele includes the mutual fund industry, corporations, schools and colleges, healthcare, advertising agencies, non-profits and the travel industry. We also produce shareholder information including marketing materials, direct mail, annual reports, prospectuses and proxy statements."

This customer base requires a combination of high quality, fast turnarounds and strict time deadlines, he stresses. "Financial printing gave us a firm base for developing industry-leading customer service. Perfection in customer service and 100 percent on-time delivery are our goals. We are also ISO 9001 certified. It took a lot of time and hard work to build a quality management system, and we have seen tremendous benefit in having tight procedures for the entire company to follow."

Family Affair

Checking out a job produced on George H. Dean Printing's new Heidelberg V30 coldset web press with a Jac de Vries infrared (IR) dryer are (from left): Ken Michaud, president; Earle Michaud, CEO; and Bruce Michaud, vice president.
Now in its 114th year of doing business, the 85-employee enterprise, which was established in 1889 by George H. Dean, is experiencing the third generation of ownership by the Michaud family. It currently operates a 75,000-square-foot facility located 15 minutes south of Boston.

In the early days, the company was a legal and financial printer serving Boston's business community. Typesetting, still one of George H. Dean's strong points, was done using monotype and then the more automated linotype. Pages were made up by hand one line at a time.

Obviously, things have changed. George H. Dean is now using its third computerized system, creating documents for the mutual fund and financial services industries. It files documents daily with the SEC via the EDGAR electronic filing system.

Back in the beginning, jobs were predominantly one- and two- color legal documents produced on small letterpress presses. However, over the years, George H. Dean developed into a hybrid printer by incorporating commercial printing. The printer installed multi-color offset presses to service the annual report market and now has six multi-color sheetfed presses ranging from two to six colors, as well as two full-width web presses.

When it comes to equipment, Michaud and his management team constantly research new technology and strive to be on the cutting edge—not the bleeding edge—of the curve. "We purchase technology based on its value to our clients and how it will improve our efficiency and quality. If it doesn't improve what we do, we don't buy it. We continually test new techniques and products that can help open new markets for us."

One such example occurred recently, recounts Mike Terlecki, pressroom foreman. "We were looking for a way to expand the capabilities of our new Heidelberg V30 coldset web press without going full-blown heatset," Terlecki recalls. "We wanted to print smoother stocks and heavier coverage than is normally possible on a cold web."

The alternative was to install a Jac de Vries infrared (IR) dryer from Fuchs DeVries Inc. (FDV Inc.). The company was loaned a dryer to use until its dryer was built and to find out what length it needed for its application.

"The FDV dryer widens the range of stocks we can run and eliminates marking through the folder and bundler," Terlecki reports. "The dryer keeps quality up to our rigid standards, and saves time and materials."

Due to the dryer's shortwave length, infrared energy passes through air rather than being absorbed by it. As a result, very little energy is lost to the environment and the energy penetrates deeply into the web. Since the energy is absorbed by the web, it dries (at web temperatures below 212 degrees F.) and cures the ink—without heating the press or the surrounding air.

IR drying is a non-heatset application or media, and the inks used are the standard conventional type. This means there are no exhaust or heat shielding requirements.

George H. Dean believes in using today's technology along with long-standing company values to provide a package of services designed to make the customer's job easier. It believes it is able to anticipate and guide customers around potential problems before they happen because of the strong understanding of the markets it serves. To that end, George H. Dean recently added a full in-house mailing and fulfillment department, including roll-to-fold, laser personalization, ink-jet addressing and inserting capabilities.

"The goal," reveals Robert Johnson, vice president of mailing and fulfillment, "is to create an unbeatable combination of products and services. Our model of 'from press to address' provides our customers with a one-stop solution to make purchasing easier to control while providing immediate savings of both time and money. Our initial capacity for inserting is more than 500,000 pieces per day."

Equipment Upgrades

Within the past two years, George H. Dean has made a variety of purchases, including Creo Brisque RIPs; a Creo Trendsetter Spectrum; a Heidelberg V30 web press; a 54˝ Sabre 137 paper cutter with Knorr automatic stacker/jogger and unloader, all from Colter & Peterson; 12 Bell & Howell inserters; two Videojet PrintPro ES digital imaging systems; a Cheshire tabber for stamp affixing and wafer sealing; three Bowe 310 cutters and unwinds for roll-to-fold folding; and a Bowe 341 interstacker. Roll-to-roll laser printers and a digital press with variable data capability are on the company's wish list.

While new equipment is important, a personal touch is also a major factor. "Today's tough economic climate has put added pressure on our customers to work with limited personnel," adds Vice President Bruce Michaud. "Customers rely on our Project Managers to be an extension of their staff, understanding procedures and always putting their needs first. It's adding value to the relationship that has been the key to our success."

This dedication to detail, new technology and customer service has allowed George H. Dean to remain a leader in the Boston printing community. "Many larger, national competitors have expressed interest in purchasing us over the years, but our desire is to stay independent," Ken Michaud reveals. "Our flexibility and ability to shift gears on a dime make us different. We can make decisions immediately that benefit our customers without waiting for the corporate office's approval. If we think it's the right thing to do, we get it done.

"We have created a viable new business model—a formidable blend of traditional values and services enhanced by the contemporary and future benefits offered by a totally integrated communications services company."

George H. Dean has added heavily to its bindery capacity over the past five years, and now the addition of in-house mailing and fulfillment gives them total control of the production process, according to Michaud. By integrating all services within one facility, customers can make one call to schedule all aspects of a project.

"In order to be successful it is necessary to blend core values, performance standards, traditional methods with state-of-the-art equipment, diversification of services and an accurate assessment of customer needs," he states. "We've evolved from a printing company into a solutions provider by adding a number of comprehensive services to meet customer needs."

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