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Mailing Services -- Check's in the Mail(ing)

June 2005
It's surprising, sometimes, how misleading a simple piece of punctuation can be.

Consider the ampersand that's so routinely tossed in between the words "mailing" and "fulfillment." One might almost think the two specialties went together like Ham and Eggs.

In fact, mailing and fulfillment are dramatically different propositions, and printers considering diversifying into mailing services need to keep the distinction clearly in mind. This September's PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 aims to support these diversification strategies with a special exhibit section whose title uses the ampersand, but whose content will highlight the diverse demands of the two fields. (See sidebar.)

The striking growth of this section—from 1,500 square feet just two years ago to more than 33,000 square feet in 2005—reflects how enthusiastically printers have been moving into the mailing and/or fulfillment businesses recently.

Partly, this surge is driven by a desire to avoid driving a job through prepress and production at warp speed only to have it languish on the loading dock waiting for the mailing house to pick it up...or sitting at the mailer's in a queue.

With about half of all printed matter being distributed by mail, getting jobs into the hands of the ultimate customers has often meant that the printer, like it or not, was being held responsible for the performance of the mailing house.

"We got into the business because our competitors were not doing a very good job," reveals Tonya Spiers, vice president of sales at Knight Abbey Printing & Direct Mail in Biloxi, MS. "Our customers came to us and said, 'you could do this.' It has opened up a lot of doors for us."

Spiers says the mailing business at Knight Abbey has gone from $4 million to $8 million annually in the past five years.

At CRW Graphics, in Pennsauken, NJ, President Mark Weiss reports that his company moved into the mailing business about six years ago with "a very, very small capital investment." It was such a small investment, in fact, that some clients were reluctant to give the printer mailing work, thinking it was under-equipped.

But beginning with smaller jobs, CRW soon proved itself. "Within the first year, up to 30 percent of the jobs running across our presses were also going through our mail shop, and it has done nothing but grow since then," Weiss says. He adds that CRW's interest in variable data digital printing naturally reinforced the move into mailing. "One of the reasons for us to get into mailing was to learn how to manage variable data," he reports.
 

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