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Instant Web Bolsters Production Flow

January 2001
CHANHASSEN, MN—The Instant Web Companies (IWCO) is undergoing steps that will enable it to improve production flow, including adding new equipment and eliminating dormant presses, relocating envelope manufacturing to the printing facility, plus consolidating and integrating its management, processing and operating efforts.

As a result, reports Jim Andersen, president and CEO of IWCO, the company can maximize growth and meet customer expectations in a more expedient manner.

"To bring our level of service to the most competitive position possible, we are accelerating the pace of improvements," Andersen says. "Our comprehensive plan will reduce production costs, improve operational efficiencies and eliminate services not delivering results."

The company is reviewing several manufacturers in its quest to add a new full-size web press complete with in-line finishing capabilities. In-line automation will also be added to several existing presses; one in-line finishing unit has recently been added and is now operational. Four presses that had not been in use were removed and equipment from the envelope manufacturing segment was moved into the printing facility.

The company is making a substantial investment in its printing capabilities. Frank Beddor, founder and chairman of IWCO, has committed $50 million toward automated web presses and other printing equipment over the next three years.

The company had operated autonomously and as three separate business units—printing, envelope and mailing services—which proved impractical, given that IWCO has marketed and positioned itself as a packaged, total-solution provider to direct marketers.

"With separate management teams, processes and operating systems, we couldn't walk and talk to each other," Andersen states. "We had separate estimating, accounting, IT and customer service departments—yet three of our four facilities are 50 yards from each other.

"We embarked on this 18 months ago because our customers found us a bit cumbersome. What they desired was an integrated solution where they could leverage our location and our capabilities.

"We integrated all the front-end services: estimating, accounting and customer service, bringing these departments together for the first time. We improved responsiveness of estimates, which is now 24 hours or less. Accuracy is also much better," Andersen adds.

The Instant Web Companies has also compressed its manufacturing platform between printing and envelope production, Andersen notes. "We put them under one roof because, frankly, the disciplines are so similar. That will allow improved timing on delivery and it obviously enhances quality. We're starting to leverage our logistics management and postal expertise, which wasn't being done in the past."

Debora Haskel, vice president of marketing, feels the company has made strides in customer relations. A new program, Customer Spotlight, was created to foster closer relationships between clients and production personnel at IWCO.

"A supervisor can constantly tell employees that we have to hit those delivery dates. But it has a great deal more impact hearing the customer say, 'This is what happens (in our business) if you don't make the delivery date,' " Haskel says. "It helps foster a real sense of ownership and pride in what we're doing."
 

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