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Phoenix Press : Little Wind Goes Long Way

August 2010 By Julie Greenbaum
Associate Editor
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Brothers Brian and Kevin Driscoll, co-owners of New Haven, CT-based Phoenix Press, could not help but be excited about their new 156-foot wind turbine. Not only did Brian Driscoll wear a tie that was embellished with mini wind turbines during the company's groundbreaking ceremony, but on the day of the turbine's completion, he climbed up on a platform that stood adjacent to the turbine and squeezed into a bucket to pose next to the company's new pride and joy.

The brothers never imagined that their family owned commercial printing business, located in a 60,000-square-foot facility near the tributary of the Quinnipiac and Mill rivers in New Haven Harbor, would serve as a prime location for harnessing wind energy. But when Brian Driscoll thought about turning Phoenix Press into an environmentally friendly printer, that's when the idea came to him.

Walking the Talk

"I was looking for ways to cut down on our overhead expenses, and realized that we had an ideal location, with plenty of land available for constructing a wind turbine to harness the wind," he says. "Now, we can accomplish our goal of saving money on energy costs, while also operating our business in a more sustainable manner."

Taking more than four years to plan, aided by a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, the 100-kilowatt, Northwind 100 wind turbine was installed in February by Alteris Renewables, a specialist in the installation of solar and wind systems based in Wilton, CT. Despite the dewatering process that needed to be implemented because of the turbine's close proximity to the river, the installation only took about six weeks to complete.

According to Brian Driscoll, by adding the turbine, Phoenix not only changed New Haven's physical landscape, it also changed the landscape of the printing industry by reportedly becoming the first company to install a commercial-grade wind turbine directly onsite.

The new turbine is estimated to provide one-third of Phoenix's energy requirements over a yearly basis, saving the printer around $35,000 in annual utility costs. It can produce electricity with wind speeds as low as six miles per hour, and as high as 55 mph, before its automatic brake system slows the blades. The clean energy generated in the nacelle at the top of the tower runs through a trench directly into the company's building through a series of cables and wires.

The wind turbine also comes equipped with a "smart view" system that stores data such as wind speed, wind direction, power output and other valuable information.

"The use of alternative energy has long been Brian's goal for the company," Kevin Driscoll explains. "He has spent a considerable amount of time researching and speaking with experts in the field to make his vision possible."

The shop is now moving forward with its "Wind to Print" campaign to help promote its use of the wind energy that will power its presses, bindery and mailing equipment. "With the new Wind to Print brand, our customers can now show their commitment to environmental sustainability via our free branding logos," explains Lynn Mathis, Phoenix Press' general manager. "It will also emphasize our true commitment to doing all we can for the environment."

A Morale Booster

Having accomplished this major goal, the wind turbine has already generated excitement among the staff at Phoenix Press. "It's really created a sense of accomplishment and pride throughout our company," Kevin Driscoll notes. "Everyone feels we're taking an active step in showing our children and grandchildren that responsibility toward our planet is not only possible but, more importantly, necessary."

Founded by the Driscolls and another brother, Tony Jasaitis (who has since retired), both brothers recall the days when Phoenix Press operated with just two ABDick presses, a paper plate maker, a folder and a paper cutter. The brothers ran operations out of Kevin's garage at first, then later moved into their current facility, which they have significantly expanded over the years.

"We were fine just running one- and two-color jobs at that time because all of the other printers in the area looked at that type of work as small potatoes. But, to us, it was our bread and butter," Brian Driscoll points out. "We all had experience in the printing business and worked in the trade for various printing establishments. We like to say that when we started our company, we were old enough for people to take us seriously and young enough to work the necessary hours to make it work."

Today, Phoenix Press has more than 40 employees and is a complete one-stop shop with in-house prepress, full-color sheetfed offset and digital printing, mailing, inventory fulfillment and direct marketing capabilities. Current plans include implementing a complete Web-to-print solution for its clients.

The main vertical markets that Phoenix serves comprise colleges and universities, but company execs also hope to attract other industries that are interested in renewable energy of all types—wind, solar and photovoltaic.

Phoenix has expanded its printed product offerings over the years to include manuals, users guides, posters, booklets, newsletters, flyers and direct mail pieces. In the past year, the company made several investments throughout its operation, including a fully automated Kodak Magnus platesetter and a new Prinergy digital workflow with an InSite online customer approval system. A new, multicolor press installation is also being considered.

Phoenix's pressroom features four Heidelbergs—a six-color, 40˝ Speedmaster; a two-color, 40˝ Speedmaster; a two-color, 40˝ SORSZ; and a two-color, 18˝ QuickMaster. On the digital end, Phoenix operates a Presstek DI press, two Kodak Digimaster 9110 black-and-white digital printers, as well as a Canon 6000, imageRUNNER 7095 and a color imageRUNNER C5180. The company also maintains an in-house bindery, as well as in-house inserting, mailing and fulfillment services.

In addition to the wind turbine, Phoenix has embarked upon a number of green initiatives, such as the recycling of waste paper and printing plates; the use of Superior Printing Inks' Biolicity inks, which eliminate VOC content in inks; and outfitting its warehouse with energy-efficient lighting, including plans to implement the same lighting in its production facility.

The company generates more than $5 million in annual revenues, serving accounts in Connecticut and throughout the United States.

Moving forward, Phoenix will continue to promote itself to potential and existing clients as an environmentally conscious printer through its new campaign, but also by creating its own renewable energy credits.

"If things go as well as we hope with this turbine, we will make plans to install a second one. We have already done the pre-testing and determined that there will be plenty of space to do so. Another move for us to become a fully sustainable printer would be to add photovoltaic solar panels to heat our building," explains Brian Driscoll. "Then, our ultimate goal of getting our business off the [electricity] grid would be that much closer."

Both brothers feel confident that the future of Phoenix will remain in good hands with the second generation of family members running the company. "Seeing our family's enthusiasm to keep the business going and growing reinforces to me that we can face the future with renewed excitement, passion and responsibility," Brian Driscoll concludes. PI



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