Progress Printing — Boom, Not Gloom

By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor

The economy may be raining red ink in pressrooms across the United States, but it’s best not to ask Progress Printing for a weather report.

From where the Lynchburg, VA-based, privately held commercial printer sits, it’s a sunny day—with sales reaching the $52 million mark for its 2003 fiscal year. Progress Printing’s profits ranked among its three best campaigns since opening its doors in 1962, and a second brand-spanking-new full web press just started rolling in October.

Someone neglected to tell Virginia’s largest independent commercial printer that a recession has been gripping the country.

The executive team seated, from the left, includes Deidra Eland, vice president of administration and finance, and Stan Smith, general manager/manufacturing. Standing are Jeff Sims, sales manager; John McGrath, vice president of Progress Printing/Richmond; David Baldree, general manager/customer support; and Michael Thornton, president.

“Although 2003 was a very tough year in the printing industry, we adjusted,” notes Jeff Sims, sales manager. “We had to market ourselves more heavily in an off year in order to get our name out there. We formulated a very elaborate sales plan and put together a corporate sales team covering specific markets.

Taking Care of Business

“We had to adjust internally and run our company by a strict budget. We stayed lean and mean from a manufacturing side.”

While the budget may look leaner, the pressroom has packed on considerable weight. Progress Printing’s roots are as a sheetfed and half-web printer, but a lion’s share of the workload is now being addressed by a pair of 16-page web offset behemoths—MAN Roland ROTOMANs. Both heatset machines—the first installed in 2001, the most recent going online in October—are 38˝, five- and four-color presses, respectively, with 239⁄16˝ cutoffs. Both are complemented with combination folders, PECOM control and automation, Power Plate Loading (PPL) and QTI closed-loop color management systems. The initial ROTOMAN, the first shaftless MAN Roland press of its kind installed in North America, is also equipped with a sheeter.

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