Irwin Hodson Press -- No Average JoeJanuary 2009 By Erik Cagle
Do not count T.J. McDonald among those who extoll the virtues of being a commodity printer. His company, Irwin Hodson Press, of Portland, OR, has survived for more than 100 years by constantly evolving, and never getting settled into a niche or philosophy that could lead to its undoing.
McDonald knew that he needed an out pitch, so to speak. His company had been competing in the six-color, 40? sheetfed plus coat offset printing market. But the Pacific Northwest is oversaturated with such print providers. Plus, the region isn’t exactly hopping these days; all McDonald has to do is take a gander down Interstate 5 in Eugene, where three printers alone had closed their doors within a two-week period late last year.
Still, McDonald doesn’t blow with the wind. He didn’t install a new 10-color, 41? KBA Rapida 105 UV perfecting press with double coaters last month because it was the right time to buy, financial terms-wise. He sought the press for its ability to print five colors and coat both sides of a sheet—all in a single pass. McDonald bought the press because it was different and innovative, and he liked the custom configuration because it makes Irwin Hodson different and innovative.
Investing in the Future
And, the soft economy be damned.
“We boast a history of possessing a vision for our industry and of investing in innovation,” he says. “There’s never a good or bad time (to invest); if you have the right people in place, and you’re doing business with the right clientele, you have a vested interest in making sure you meet their demands.
“Whatever shape the overall economy is in really doesn’t make a difference to us. We looked beyond today when investing in our new KBA equipment. This press will be a Trojan horse for us for at least the next four or five years. There are cycles in this business. If I wait until the cycle moves up, I’ve missed my window of opportunity.”