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NEC Expands into New York Market

March 1998
NASHVILLE, TN—Digital communications company NEC Inc. has acquired a Cranford, NJ-based facility formerly owned by digital prepress provider TSI Graphics. With the addition of this plant—now known as NEC/Cranford—NEC is better positioned to service metro customers and expand services in the greater New York area. Specific details of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Our goal is to expand our market share in magazine publishing and to be able to service quick turns for our New York customers," explains NEC Vice President of Technology Ray Flatt. "A large percentage of our business is already coming out of New York City, so we are not an unknown entity in this market."

In searching for a Northeastern launching pad, NEC found in its former competitor similarities in customer base and workflow—both use Kodak Approvals—right down to management philosophies.

"At NEC, we call everyone 'teammates;' at Cranford, according to the TSI philosophy, employees were 'associates,' " reports Flatt.

The Cranford facility offers a full range of prepress services, including digital ad capabilities—a priority for NEC, which is investing more than $1 million in a new digital network to expand the facility's digital ad handling capabilities. NEC is also developing a Cranford training center.

"Our objective in developing a training center is to bring advertising and magazine people out to learn the digital ad process and allow them to get hands-on experience doing it," observes Flatt. "We are all comfortable with four or five pieces of film and an analog proof; we went through that with desktop publishing. Now, we have to establish this with digital advertising."

NEC additionally plans to capitalize on Cranford's already-existing digital photography studio, and design services for catalog work.

Cranford marks NEC's third acquisition in 18 months. "Cranford is probably the largest, most significant acquisition," assesses Flatt. Prior to acquiring the Cranford facility, NEC reported $26 million in annual revenues; with Cranford, NEC boasts $33 million in sales. Just a year and a half ago, annual sales were at $14 million.

NEC plans growth through its "mothership/satellite" scenario: Small satellite operations, complete prepress facilities in their own right, are connected to a larger, "mothership" operation that can handle the massive jobs. The Nashville operation is NEC's sole existing mothership at this time, but that may change.

"Cranford will not be our last acquisition," states Flatt. "It's a potential mothership.

"The most attractive thing about the acquisition is that Cranford was a known, friendly competitor," comments Flatt. "It's a known entity that we can grow. That's the real promise and the real thrill about an acquisition like this."

By Carolyn R. Bak
 

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