Mid Island Bindery — Bucking Bindery TrendsMarch 2008 By Cheryl Adams
Mid Island was no exception. Initially, it wasn’t capable of binding 250,000 1.3˝-thick books. But keeping the faith with his business philosophy, that “if the customer wants it, the customer gets it” (even if that means adding new equipment to handle the job), Geier was determined to win the work—not once, or twice, but routinely year after year.
“The first year that we produced the project, we bought several manual plastic spiral machines, but we could only produce one-third of the work,” he explains. “We had to outsource the rest to other binderies that produced the job in this manner. The next year, I approached our equipment supplier, Michael Spiel of Spiel Associates. I told him that I wanted to complete the entire job in-house.
“So we purchased a Sterling Coilmaster automatic plastic coil binding system in 2005. Then, we were able to do two-thirds of the job. The next year, we bought another Coilmaster and finished the entire job in-house. And, we did it in four weeks, which was the amount of time given to do the project. We have taken on the project every year and, with our new equipment, we are able to keep it flowing smoothly in our plant.”
At the same time, Geier and his partner, Bob Russo, were busy branching out into another service offering. “We wanted our customers’ products to be able to go straight from the bindery into the mailstream, so we added mailing operations. It’s been a good value-added service to our clients. We set up a full data processing department to handle the complicated data work our customers required, as well as high resolution ink-jet and laser equipment. Work primarily consists of personalized department store catalogs, annual reports and large direct mail projects.”
To keep competitive in today’s marketplace, in January Mid Island installed a fully automated Kolbus perfect binder with a top speed of 15,000 books per hour. The new Kolbus joins an arsenal of high-tech machines that includes four saddlestitchers (with Signature recognition), 14 folders, four paper cutters (with jogger and unloaders), two Wire-O binders, two Rilecart wire binders, two Sterling Coilmaster plastic binders, another perfect binder, four Bobst diecutters, foil stamping equipment and several tip on machines.
Geier notes that many of his long-run jobs are finished using his Rilecart B-599 automatic double loop wire binder, which he claims is one of the fastest wire binders in the world, capable of binding 4,000 books per hour.
And that’s just at the New York location. The Louisville finishing facility comprises a dozen folders and stitchers, diecutters and gluers set up for the multimedia work.
“Our final products produced in Kentucky go into thousands of stores, so the packages must be exceptional. Our quality control has to be very tight. There can’t be any defects. We’re graded by our customers for defects/quality, and our packing is graded/compared with other vendors that do the same type of work. The competition is on—and so is the pressure.”
Interestingly, the finishing work coming out of the Farmingdale facility is also scrutinized by customers. Two important revenue streams are high-end annual reports for Fortune 100 companies and auto showroom brochures.
“Every job we take on has to be done with care and quality, and completed on time,” Geier says. Other work includes catalogs, calendars, pamphlets, pharmaceutical brochures and, of course, books of every kind—each with specific finishing requirements.
Strategy Pays Off
Geier maintains that his business strategy has paid off, as 2007 was a record year with more than $18 million in sales. He claims his capabilities expansions are well thought out, and his equipment purchases are smart. He gives kudos to Spiel Associates for the supplier’s expertise in knowing what equipment will fit best into his operation and best fulfill his needs.
Finding and cultivating market niches—like multimedia packaging, long-run mechanical binding, perfect binding and direct mail personalization—are keys that have led to Mid Island’s continued success.
Another equally important driver behind Geier’s ability to run a profitable business is his “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude. It’s a business philosophy that has enabled him to buck traditional trends and build a thriving trade bindery business. PI