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Postpress - The Buck Starts And Stops Here

March 1999
BY ERIK CAGLE


Once upon a time, a print buyer ran into a commercial printer's plant and screamed, "I want this job done, and I want it done yesterday."

Aside from rattling off an unrealistic mantra, what the customer really wanted has become the genesis of the one-stop shop. The needs of the customer became immediate, and printers wishing to maintain a healthy clientele roster looked beyond their pressrooms and soon learned the necessity of incorporating extensive electronic prepress and postpress capabilites to meet these ever-shrinking deadlines.

"In today's business, quick turnaround at a reasonable price is everything," says Haig Atamain, president and CEO of Haig's Quality Printing, in Palm Springs, CA. "That's important to remember, because customers can get a job done in New York City and have it in San Francisco tomorrow."

Quick turnarounds and the concept of the one-stop shop go hand in hand, and commercial printers have been jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to become all things to all customers, or at least come close to that goal. That means printers not only need to offer basic finishing services, but also some of today's more specialized services: miniature and other specialty folding; mechanical binding, such as spiral wire and plastic coil; foil stamping and embossing; diecutting; and the like.

Expanding services to include specialty finishing services can be an expensive proposition, with machines costing thousands of dollars—a considerable justification, especially for printers that may only need the equipment sporadically.

"We started offering specialty services mainly because we were always rushing jobs," Atamain remarks. "This is a business based on quick turnaround. We would do a job and have to wait three or four days for it to come back from the trade bindery because it would get screwed up on the bindery's end.

"By doing it in-house, we now have complete control over a job and we can turn it around a lot faster than we used to when we were outsourcing work," he adds.

By not farming out the finishing jobs, Atamain was able to parlay the savings into the necessary equipment and hire a pair of workers for the department. With four to five jobs a day requiring some degree of finishing, it wasn't hard to justify the initial payout. Haig's Quality Printing now operates a scoring and slitting machine, along with a folder/gluer for doing presentation folders and key packets. Since Atamain also does foil stamping and embossing, the only finishing aspect he needs to outsource is dies work.
 

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