Creel Printing : Printing’s Future Is NowJanuary 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but Allan Creel Jr. wasn't about to wager the future of his business on the premise that a time-tested manufacturing process such as lithography was printing's raison d'être. Given that his company happens to be a phenomenal sheetfed offset and heatset/coldset web offset printer, sticking exclusively to what the company does well would've been the easy call.
Creel Printing, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year in the glare of those casino lights, has certainly earned a reputation for high-quality print production. The firm began entering printing competitions just four years ago and, in that timeframe, has captured 30 awards for excellence, including four gold medals from the 2012 Gold Ink Awards competition, hosted by Printing Impressions. The categories encompassed fine arts lithography, consumer catalogs (sheetfed), magazine covers and softcover books.
The award plaques look nice on the wall, certainly, and make for additional marketing fodder, but ultimately being recognized for quality speaks to Creel Printing's commitment to craft and attention to detail. As Chris Evans, vice president of premedia and customer solutions, observes, "Close enough will never be the philosophy of Creel Printing."
Yet, it was just a few short years ago—around the time the $110 million performer became active in competitions—that Creel Printing President Allan Creel Jr. made the big decision to journey into digital printing and variable data. The best way printing can compete with other content distribution models, he concluded, was to evolve into a one-to-one content provider. So Creel Printing installed some digital machines and tested its customer base.
“By looking at our client base and at companies in multiple industries, we recognized that successful companies are targeting their customers in ways like never before,” Creel says. “Collecting the right data and using that data correctly have never been more important. The success of the printing industry is tied to our ability to provide clients with a high rate of response, at a reasonable cost. If we can do that, printing—as we know it—will continue to be relevant.”
Creel himself felt it was important to make a deeper commitment to digital printing via the M&A route, where his company could find a like-minded partner to help provide advanced capabilities as opposed to taking the green fields approach with a startup operation. Creel Printing looked no further than its own customer list, where a Hayden, ID-based digital printer—that also happened to emphasize quality—resided. Digital Lizard, which opened in 2005 as an in-plant for a personalized magazine, was acquired in August of 2011.