Island Pro Digital : The Problem SolversAugust 2012 By Julie Greenbaum, Associate Editor
While most companies were trying to remain afloat during the recession in 2009, Hauppauge, NY-based trade printer Island Pro Digital was just getting started. By creating a physical and digital media platform, co-owners Kurt and Kyle Kubik poised the company for growth and transformed it into one of the most successful (and busiest) trade shops in Long Island.
"After working 22 years for a prepress company that was going out of business, I was at a crossroads and needed to decide if I wanted to work for someone else or start my own business," recalls Kurt Kubik. "So, I spoke with my wife and my son Kyle, a communications major with a video background, and Kyle and I decided to launch our own company."
Feeling that the general public has a misconception of the printing industry, they decided to move away from falling into that category of business, and started billing Island Pro Digital as a media fabrication company.
Today, aside from the trade and specialty work that other printers can't handle, the company serves a variety of vertical markets, including ad agencies, designers, manufacturers and small businesses/independent entrepreneurs. It offers a wide range of services, including sheetfed offset and digital printing with variable data capabilities, wide-format digital printing, binding and finishing, as well as the production of cartons, mockups and short-run packaging.
An Expansive Reach
The 13-employee operation now serves hundreds of clients in the greater New York area and across the United States. To accommodate this growth, last October the company moved from a 6,000-square-foot facility in Islandia, NY, into a 10,000-square-foot location in Hauppauge, NY.
Printed products range from posters and banners, to business cards, stationery, forms, calendars, and trade show and point-of-purchase (POP) displays. Island Pro also offers video and audio production, Website development, Website hosting and e-mail blasts. "Research and development has become a unique part of our business, as well, because it really pushes our limits to what we can handle and produce with the equipment that we have in-house," adds Kurt Kubik.
Today, Island Pro Digital rarely turns down a project and finds that, from conceptualization to fulfillment, most jobs can now be produced in-house. For example, when a client needed a large box order of 60,000 boxes—a typical run is 15,000 boxes—the shop was able to produce them in just five business days. "It wasn't based on our prices, but more that we were able to turn around a job like this—which isn't really our niche—in such a short amount of time," Kurt Kubik points out. He also recalls another job where a client needed 150 boxes the next day. "I told the customer to come back in an hour. While he was gone, we created a mockup. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for us to know which direction we needed to take. I will never forget the look on his face—it was like I birthed his first child."
Since Island Pro Digital's clients and their needs seem to change on a daily basis, the company places a major emphasis on cross-training its employees. At the end of last year, the company implemented a farm system to train employees who lacked prior experience in the printing industry. "There are less people going to school today to study printing and graphic communications. So, we find talented people and mold them into what we need, while also giving them a new set of skills that they can grow with," stresses Kyle Kubik.
"Our two-color pressman is a very good auto mechanic. But when he had trouble finding work, we gave him the opportunity to learn a trade that he is now extremely passionate about. He has since moved from a two-color press to a four-color model, and has far exceeded our expectations." Cross-training also allows the Kubiks to move staff from one area of the company to another based on incoming workloads.
In the pressroom, Island Pro Digital currently operates a four-color Heidelberg Quickmaster DI 46, a two-color Heidelberg Printmaster QM 46-2, a single-color Chief 15, a two-color AB Dick 360, a Ricoh Pro C720 digital printer and a wide-format HP DesignJet L25500 printer. Finishing gear consists of a Polar cutter, a Stahlfolder and GBC laminators.
"We added an additional high-speed GBC laminator because there weren't enough vendors in Long Island to serve our need for lamination. So, we decided that we would become that vendor," explains Kyle Kubik. The laminator can handle up to 28x40˝ sheets, and is used for smaller posters.
Combining Old, New Processes
Since its outset, Island Pro Digital has taken a "Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology" approach to its business, where it takes familiar equipment and uses it in modern ways. For example, for its short-run packaging needs, the company may integrate digital printing with traditional letterpress printing. "Or, we might create a letterpress-printed business card that has a QR code on it. It combines the look, feel and tactile artistry of letterpress with the new-age digital medium of a QR code or augmented reality," Kyle Kubik explains.
Last September, Island Pro Digital received the 2011 Rookie of the Year award from the Hauppauge Industrial Association for excellence in customer service, as well as an award from Graphic Design USA magazine for best self-promotion on its sell sheet.
Both owners credit the company's success to the fact that all of its employees are on the same page. "We shut down the entire shop every day at 10 a.m. to brainstorm on different issues," says Kyle Kubik. "It is not only a good communication outlet for everyone involved, but a good way to let everyone know what issues have arisen with previous orders, how we can correct them, and then move forward and find success together."
Kurt and Kyle Kubik also make it a point to meet for dinner every Sunday night to discuss the current state of their company and where they hope to bring it in the future.
Moving forward, both father and son will continue to examine the current and future demands of the market, and seek out technologies that can satisfy those needs. "I also envision continued growth and further expansion in the realm of full-service media fabrication, along with the addition of new press capabilities and wide-format peripherals," concludes Kyle Kubik.
"Another aspect of our business that my father and I would like to promote is short-run packaging and prototyping. This seems to be something that clients are very interested in, so we are trying to get the word out there that we offer that service." PI