Northern Ohio Printing: Finding the Right SolutionAugust 2013 By Nicole Perry, Associate Editor
From humble beginnings in 1994 with only two employees and two small duplicator presses, today Cleveland-based Northern Ohio Printing has blossomed into a $5 million business with 30 employees servicing more than 600 accounts. How did they do it? Founder and President Gary Chmielewski credits the company's ability to evolve during uncertain times, along with a stellar staff and capex investments, as the reasons for much of its success.
"We operate within 15,000 square feet of manufacturing space, which doesn't seem like a lot for all the equipment that we have in place," he explains. "We also run two shifts, which provides the efficiency we need to keep the work moving through our plant."
To keep the company profitable and running smoothly, Chmielewski requires his production workers to cross-train on various equipment. "We call it our 'three-tool program,' where each employee has to learn to operate at least two other machines. It's helped us be more efficient and streamlined."
Evolving to meet customers' changing requirements is equally important. "Northeast Ohio is a tough area for printers right now," Chmielewski contends. Recently, the company, which serves vertical markets such as health care, automotive, schools and manufacturers, has reinvented itself. "We're not a print provider; we're a solutions provider that also provides print," he states. "We employ a full complement of graphic designers, a Web developer and a programmer, and we've produced more than 200 online storefronts for our clients."
Expanding from a service provider that once only offered basic offset printing, Chmielewski feels Northern Ohio Printing has become an industry leader by remaining on the forefront of new technology.
One recent investment is an MGI JETvarnish 3D inkjet spot UV coater, which Northern Ohio Printing purchased last Fall. Chmielewski started to research options for digital spot UV coating in early 2012 to help differentiate his shop from other printers. "We wanted something new, something revolutionary—a true game changer." In addition to the JETvarnish 3D, the company invested in an HP Indigo 7600 digital press last year and plans to purchase a 29˝ HP Indigo 10000 press in the next three years.
The JETvarnish 3D allows end users to differentiate their brands and adds a new dimension of visual appeal to a wide range of projects. It is a 100 percent digital process that requires no plates, screens or makeready, and combines traditional flat spot UV coating and new 3D raised effects together for the first time in one production unit.
He sees tremendous growth potential for the process. "Direct marketing communications are a natural fit for digital spot UV coating" according to Chmielewski. "I also see the JETvarnish 3D opening up new opportunities for us in the area of light packaging, point-of-purchase and retail communications."
Northern Ohio Printing calls its offering "Sculpted UV," a trademarked name. The firm bought the Internet domain name www.SculptedUV.com and sends all of its prospects to the site, so they can view the process and better understand, from a technical standpoint, how they can apply it to their marketing materials. "It's really taken off," Chmielewski shares.
The company has also received recognition from others in the industry. Recently, it took home the Gold in the Foil & Specialty Effects Association's (FSEA) 20th annual Gold Leaf Awards for "Best Use of Specialty UV Coating." "I didn't realize how powerful the piece was," he admits. "I was blown away after winning the award. I really didn't expect it."
Northern Ohio Printing is in the process of researching more digital output devices, including an MGI Meteor DP8700 digital press. "Our business has evolved," he says of the company's focus on digital printing. "We started with nothing, and now digital printing comprises 55 percent of our business."
Chmielewski encourages other printers to expand into the digital printing realm, as well. "Everything is going digital," he says. "Those shops that just provide an offset solution have to evolve into the digital age, otherwise they very well may not be around in five years."
If Northern Ohio Printing's exponential growth is any indicator, Chmielewski's prediction might be true. PI