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MERCURY PRINT PRODUCTIONS -- A Digital Thrust

November 2002
BY MARK SMITH


To be sure, the Mercury Print Productions of today has a compelling story to tell. It embodies both attributes connoted by its name: the speed of the winged messenger god and the high-tech of space exploration.

Having been a strong player in the on-demand digital print arena for some 10 years, the company just completed beta testing the new Xerox DocuColor iGen 3 digital color production press and is now its first commercial user worldwide. Its sheetfed offset printing capabilities have far from suffered, though, as the shop also offers state-of-the-art computer-to-plate (CTP) production as a front end to four (two- to six-color) 40˝ Heidelberg sheetfed offset presses and a couple of smaller machines.

Nonetheless, the story of the printer's origins is worth making a short trip back in time. The year was 1969. With a family to support and facing the loss of her job when her in-plant printing department was being phased out, Valerie Mannix pitched the idea of buying the printing equipment and continuing to do the parent company's work as an outside supplier. Thus Mercury was borne with a single printing press in the basement of Mannix' Rochester, NY, home.


Valerie Mannix, CEO, and John Place, president, are the mother and son team piloting Mercury Print Productions to new heights of success.
Today, Mannix is CEO of a company with more than $20 million in sales and 155 employees in three locations. Her son, John Place, has helped build the organization, and serves as Mercury's president with primary responsibility for the day-to-day operations.

Even so, Mannix remains very active in her company. "After 34 years in printing, I still find it very interesting and exciting," she reveals. The printing exec got her start in the industry as an apprentice in the aforementioned in-plant at Dynacolor Corp.

"I quickly fell in love with printing because I found it to be very creative and exciting," she explains. "That energy motivated me to rapidly learn the business and before too long I was promoted to manager of the print shop. I enjoyed finding ways to increase the productivity of the department, such as the implementation of two shifts."


Operator Steve Sarick checks out a press sheet on the console of the shop's Xerox 233DI press, which complements its traditional offset printing capabilities.
The organization she went on to found has changed significantly—and not just in size—since the early years. "Every three to four years we adapt to the newest technologies and ways to do business," she asserts. "Today, we have traditional offset presses; DI (direct imaging) presses; toner-based, black-and-white and color machines; CD replication; e-mail blast capabilities; as well as warehousing and fulfillment services. Mercury has clearly branched out from simply putting ink on paper, and this evolution will propel us into the future."
 

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