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Southeastern Color--Mapping Roads

April 1999
With a pioneering spirit, Southeastern Color Graphics is one book printer intent on mapping digital prepress trails and charting new digital horizons.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


The management team at Southeastern Color Graphics has a motto: You can't fight and win without good weapons.

"If it's nearly affordable and it's a sound investment, we will find a way to make it happen. We don't just invest for the sake of spending capital, we invest for the sake of perpetuating our success and expanding our portfolio of prepress and printing services," reveals Charlie Montgomery, chairman and CEO. "Our attorney laughs that while, comparatively speaking, we're the size of a gnat, we think like we're General Electric."

Actually, if Southeastern Color Graphics is a gnat, we're talking about one monster bug. With a base of 260 employees—that figure jumps to roughly 450 in the summer months—and projected 1999 revenues in the $25 million range, the Johnson City, TN-based book manufacturer caters to highly specialized product niches.

Typical products include oversized four-color, saddle-wire books. Southeastern Color also manufactures a wide range of pedestal books, ranging in widths up to 36˝. Additionally, this Tennessee operation reportedly is one of the nation's primary sources for full-color overhead transparency sets intended for classroom use.

"Smaller printers are no different than larger printers, or any other business when you consider what makes an operation successful," contends Jack Campbell, president and COO. "In broad terms, we believe a company—any company—must define its market, sell to its market and serve, serve, serve its market, while delivering quality product at a competitive price."

Southeastern also believes in the promise of a digital workflow—hence the company's interest in Agfa's Digital Roadmaps program, an Internet-based consulting channel, of sorts, to assist traditional commercial printers and related operations in their movement to electronic prepress or digital printing environments.

"Early in our search for CTP information, we stumbled onto an unknown gold mine: Agfa's Digital Roadmaps Web pages," reports Gordon Hutchinson, prepress manager. "We discovered the Website because, basically, we were already an established Agfa shop looking to see what Agfa had to offer in digital prepress, circa 1998." (A two-page imagesetter purchased by Southeastern in 1992 was the company's first move into digital waters, followed by an eight-up Agfa Avantra 44S in late 1996.)

Thanks to the digital highway that is the Internet, Agfa's Digital Roadmaps—www.digitalroadmaps.com—provided the very inquisitive Hutchinson and related top management personnel, including Frank Burroughs, electronic prepress manager, with the right direction on matters of digital prepress. The Digital Roadmaps Website supports the belief that simply knowing about and purchasing new digital technologies does not mean a traditional commercial printing facility will be able to implement those new digital technologies successfully.
 

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