Wayne Kasich wishes it were that easy. As the publisher in charge of sheetfed and commercial products for North Star Publishing/Daily Journal in International Falls, MN, he only dreams of running at capacity. Far from it, this small, struggling newspaper relies on its commercial business to survive.
Struggling to Survive
“We’re isolated up here. This is ‘Northern Exposure’-type living,” quips Kasich. “In most cities, [a run of] 10,000 is a piece of cake. Here, we take a bunch of small runs. It’s our bread and butter.”
Kasich says maintaining the Daily Journal is difficult, but is working, partly because of North Star’s sheetfed operation. The company’s sheetfed equipment is perfect for its growing amount of commercial work.
“It amounts to half of our total sales,” Kasich offers. “In fact, our revenues have doubled since we started growing our commercial work several years ago.”
Bidding on sheetfed work has always been an “afterthought,” explains Kasich, noting the sheetfed equipment came with the business and was only used occasionally. Almost all incoming work went to the web presses—that is, until there was very little work coming in. When the newspaper’s retail base became stagnant, Kasich says the sheetfed presses were forced into action.
The commercial products that roll off those presses come from the only significant businesses in the region: resorts and paper mills. North Star prints postcards and brochures for nearby resorts and prints labels for local paper manufacturers, as well as other commercial jobs when available.
A Bigger Star
Adapting to its commercial success, North Star moved to a larger facility with triple its previous space, and it’s running a night shift due to extra volume. Additionally, Kasich says three new staffers have been added.
Imagine the potential increased revenues if North Star would have promoted its commercial sheetfed capability years sooner, collecting cash instead of dust. No longer an afterthought, sheetfed printing is now an integral part of this printing operation.