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HOPKINS PRINTING -- Recipe for Success

June 2001
BY ERIK CAGLE


You won't see Jim Hopkins' face on the cover of Fortune magazine. His commercial printing company, Hopkins Printing, isn't likely to challenge Quebecor World, R.R. Donnelley or any other top 10-performer as an industry sales heavyweight. Hopkins Printing manages to fly under the radar screen, and chances are you've never heard of the 27-year-old, Columbus, OH-based establishment.

Then again, Hopkins Printing has never laid off massive numbers of employees. You won't see any major restructuring because of missed quarterly revenue reports or disappointing stock valuation performances. His upper management team isn't a revolving door. There are no angry shareholders, no elimination of duplicity or any other face-lift scars that are visible on the now seemingly not-so-sexy faces of the industry bigwigs.

All Jim Hopkins has ever done is turn his garage into a quick print shop with a few thousand dollars—not even enough to buy a decent used car these days—and parlay it into a solid, regional commercial printing operation with sales in excess of $13 million in 2000. And while graphic arts companies boon and bust with the blowing winds of the economy, it's relatively smooth sailing at Hopkins Printing with its steady, measured growth. In fact, you can call Jim Hopkins 'Mr. 10 percent', which is the level of annual growth his firm has enjoyed, on average, during the past nine years.

That growth isn't likely to level off any time soon. Currently with 100 employees, Hopkins expects a 50 percent growth in manpower over the next three to five years. The printer moved into a new facility last December, which is 50 percent larger than its previous plant, and simultaneously ushered in full computer-to-plate (CTP) capabilities with a large-format Agfa Galileo platesetter.

The new, 75,000-square-foot facility was conceived in 1998 when it became apparent that more space was needed to preserve everyone's sanity involved. Wanting more equipment capacity, Hopkins carefully mapped out a plan.

"I don't believe in chaotic management. We tried to do as much planning as we could up front," Hopkins explains of the move. "We made a complete transition in four weeks; we already had 55 to 60 percent of the equipment moved after just six days.

Up on New Technology
"Computer-to-plate makes us better printers in that we can closely control dot gain," he adds of the company's new CTP workflow, which enjoyed a smooth implementation, as well. "We fingerprinted all the presses to see how they were printing. The Heidelbergs print so well; we were able to send a straight linear curve to them, and we change the curve for different customer needs."

 

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