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Rex Three : Technology Provides Edge

April 2010
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REX THREE, the pride of Sunrise, FL, has developed a reputation for quality that has resonated with some of the biggest names in the retail and entertainment industries.

Its client roster includes Wachovia, Comcast, ESPN, Holiday Inn, Topps, Royal Caribbean and Nickelodeon. Rex Three mixes package printing, commercial and publication work for verticals ranging from hospitality, automotive, advertising and marketing services.

Suite of Services

Hospitality clients like Holiday Inn require eye-catching direct mail pieces featuring loyalty gift cards and tear-off prizes that stimulate repeat business. On the automotive front, Rex Three's interactive programmers have developed event-based automated campaigns that help promote automotive sales and service reminders when they're due.

Ad agencies lean heavily on Rex Three to guide them through the infancy stages of a project to seek out opportunities for cost savings, aid in planning and provide logistical insight.

As for marketing services, the company enjoys creativity challenges. It utilizes cross-media software to make variable data direct marketing campaigns last longer by combining direct mail with personalized URLs (PURLs), e-mail blasts and other electronic-based enticements.

Rex Three extends the borders of its full-service graphic communications company repertoire to include photography and design support, mailing, fulfillment, distribution and asset management.

The company, which has been in business for more than 50 years, posted sales of $20 million in 2009, good enough to rank 255th on the Printing Impressions 400 list of top printers by sales. It has six facilities dotting central and southern Florida, and a total of 120 employees.

It stands to reason that companies which pride themselves on offering the most relevant cross-channel marketing and printing expertise don't want to be in the position to have to hide or mask any antiquated or inefficient chink in their armor. Thus, in 2007, Rex Three made the decision to incorporate the LithoTechnics Metrix job planning automation and integration software.

According to Vince Sita, Rex Three's vice president of manufacturing, his firm was able to realize the benefits of a faster, more streamlined estimating, planning and prepress production process. In turn, Rex Three's customers benefitted from exceptional service and faster turn times on projects.

"Our planning software was not easy to use," Sita recalls. "CSRs were intimidated by it, and we were unable to send layout data directly into our Rampage workflow. That workflow forced us to keep using our old Preps desktop imposition software, as an additional step." After the company purchased Metrix version 2.0, Sita notes that Rex Three reaped increased productivity, reduced errors and remakes, greater production accuracy and faster project turnaround. He estimates the company's annual labor savings to be $120,000. Plus, the average layout and imposition job can now be completed in less than 10 minutes.

As manufacturing gurus are wont to do, Sita provided his own wish list of enhancements for the version 3.0 release, ideas he thought would move Rex Three closer to "total lights out prepress." A number of Sita's suggestions were, in fact, incorporated in the latest version.

"The LithoTechnics team really listens," he says. "That type of respect and responsiveness is unique, and a key factor that we look for in a solutions partner. We were already happy with Metrix 2.0, and version 3.0 is a great step forward."

Sita is a fan of the automation and time/cost-saving elements with features like comma separated (CSV) data import, auto plan job layout based on cost considerations, intelligent drag-and-drop capabilities and Mac OS X support. Drag-and-drop, in particular, is a critical time-saving feature. Projects that involve specific color coverage, press considerations, or that lend themselves to nesting, can benefit from the capability.

Using Hot Folders, JDF data is directly and automatically imported by the Rampage system "without doing anything to it." This creates efficiencies in the desktop department, allowing Sita to take one full-timer and almost a second worker out of the computer-to-plate (CTP) area. That full-time worker was moved into a desktop operator slot, aiding Rex Three's productivity. Also, the ability to run Metrix on a Mac OS X workstation means that one less Windows-based computer is required in the CTP area.

While Rex Three is not a gang-run printer, they have certain projects that they do as combos and gang runs. The new CSV data import capability allows Rex Three to automatically import job information—product, size, quantities, etc.—from a spreadsheet, a process that CSRs used to perform manually, thus providing a solid time savings.

Having the Right Tools

Another challenge was estimating the most efficient layout and job plan for a project that included 50 different products, in multiple versions, across eight or nine different forms. "Planning combo jobs used to be a two-hour chore," Sita says. "Now, with CSV data import and the new auto plan tool, we have a good layout in about 20 minutes."

Projects come in as correctly formatted PDFs, which Metrix auto-populates into a template using Metrix XML data. With this process, the jobs go to prepress in 15 minutes or less, which allows Rex Three to provide clients a competitive price and fast turn time. Though these projects are smaller, Sita can take on more of them—50 to 100 smaller jobs per month—and trigger profitability based on higher volume.

The company has a number of other tools in its belt to set itself apart from the competition. On the press side, Rex Three is largely a Komori shop, with a half-dozen Lithrone sheetfed models in two-, five- and six-color formats. In the digital realm, it boasts a five-color Kodak NexPress to handle its variable data needs.

Rex Three's bindery features, among other things, Polar cutters, Stahl folders, Muller Martini Minuteman and Bravo six-pocket stitchers, a Duplo System 5000 bookletmaker and a Bobst SP102-SE diecutter.

Another pride and joy for Rex Three is its digital photography and design studios. Two graphic designers are on staff and a semi-functioning kitchen allows for photo shoots or food prepping. In all, it boasts nearly 3,700 square feet of photography studio space. PI


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