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June 2006
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KIRKWOOD PRINTING is a prime example of the good things that can happen when a printing company with a tradition of high-quality work is purchased by printing industry sales professionals focused on providing superior customer service.

The Wilmington, MA-based commercial printer specializes in high-end direct mail pieces, catalogs, brochures and annual reports. Its diverse customer group includes Volkswagen of America, Reebok, General Motors, Courier Corp., Harvard Law School and the Bermuda Department of Tourism.

Founded by Kirk Krikorian in 1973, the business was purchased in 2004 by three experienced Boston-area printing sales veterans: Bob Coppinger, Will Winship and Eddie Kelley. When the three partners bought Kirkwood, they felt they had bought a diamond in the rough that would be a solid base on which to grow their business. As the three top salespeople from another printing company—formerly the highest end commercial printer in the area—they saw an opportunity to invest and to do it their way.

Experience Is Everything

“We wanted to have a place that could handle the $17 million worth of high-end printing we already sold,” says Eddie Kelley, owner and COO. “We found it hard to service our customers the way we wanted to. So many high-end printers were being bought by larger companies and losing track of the importance of the customer experience.”

The partners acquired the company—a 65,000-square-foot building and all of the equipment—and immediately started investing in value-added extras. Additions included a $50,000 water system and one of the newest and fastest Heidelberg sheetfed presses on the market, an eight-color, 41˝ Speedmaster XL 105 with in-line aqueous coating capable of printing at speeds to 18,000 sph.

“We consider ourselves as contrarians to a degree,” notes Kelley. “While the bottom line is important, we think the client experience is the way to get there. Quality is huge here.

“It is our intent to provide the highest quality in everything we do.”

Kirkwood’s quest for the best didn’t stop with building systems and equipment. The new owners were also determined to use what they consider the best sheetfed ink on the market.

“There are a lot of different inks, and the main differentiator is stability,” he adds. “That’s critical. After intensive testing, we found Van Son’s Quickson PRO inks to be the most stable products on the market. Today, all five of our presses, including the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105; a six-color, 40˝ Speedmaster; a four-color, 40˝ Speedmaster perfector; and a pair of 40˝ Mitsubishi presses with in-line aqueous coaters (one eight-color and one seven-color), run on Quickson PRO.”

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