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Smith Litho--Exceeding Expectations

August 1998

Smith Litho's partnership with Fuji is one example of how the company works with vendors to assure quality of product. "Before we began using Fuji plates, we had three different suppliers and too many problems with chemistry balance," reveals Prepress Manager Mike McKenzie.

Rick Bowie well remembers the switch to Fuji plates three years ago. "I didn't tell anybody," he explains, "but everyone knew because the problems were gone. We made Fuji our sole provider."

The company's willingness to work with Smith Litho to improve efficiencies is another reason the company selected and remains with Fuji. McKenzie says that Smith Litho's Dolev 800s are set up for 33˝ film and eight-up impositions, but that standard plates are 30x40˝.

"That's a waste of three inches per unit of film," McKenzie points out. "Fuji retooled its assembly line to wind the best size films with the emulsion we needed."

Employment Histories
Vice President of Production Mike Mason, a 21-year employee, says this commitment to improve continually is why he remains with Smith Litho: "We're all proud of what we do and ready to give 100 percent. I'll be here until I'm 65 or 70 and retire."

Other employees give similar reasons for their long histories with the company. Bowie, who's worked with Smith Litho for 24 years, has stayed because of its "dynamic character."

Bowie started with Smith Litho as the night-shift apprentice sheetfed pressman. "I was the whole shift at first," he says. "And in every position from then to now, I've had input on ways to improve operations."

Bindery Foreman Earle Coleman also appreciates being asked to contribute to the way things are done, citing that as the main reason for his 18 years with Smith Litho. "Running this bindery is like running my own company," he says.

Coleman and others are treated that way because Charlie Smith believes empowered employees are vital to success. He uses teams made up of staff members from each department to update systems and address problems. He chooses team members and talks at the first meeting, then steps aside.

Hodges sees the effect such company-wide communication has on workflow. "Discussion is always about the job, getting it done," he says. "There's never blame between departments because everyone has the same focus."

With such a mind-set, Smith Litho looks toward the next 25 years. CTP production is realizable in the near future, catalog work is a possibility, and ink-jetting and mailing services will certainly expand.

"Change is constant," Hodges says. "A company must have internal financial strength in order to provide the tools needed to serve its customers well, now and in the future. And Smith Litho is committed to the constant reinvestment needed to provide those tools."

"The only given," Smith adds, "is that we'll continue to be a company that's very sensitive to the needs of the customer. We'll go where they take us."

 

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