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Spiraling to Success

October 1998
With just a little over 10 years in the business, PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania is a relative newcomer to the graphic arts field. Nevertheless, this family-owned and -operated venture has already positioned itself as one of the most respected full-service binding and finishing operations in western Pennsylvania.

Don Barkley, who had been a home builder prior to founding PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania, explains that its success hinges on several components—not the least of which has been continuous investment in the latest bindery shop equipment. The most recent investment was a Euro-Bind Perfect Binder 4M/P from Vijuk Equipment, the exclusive North American distributor.

Company Profile
Name: PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania
Headquarters Location: Warrendale, PA
Annual Sales: $2.5 million
Employees: 40
The company's story begins back in 1985 when Don Barkley and his wife, Marian, decided to get out of construction and explore other more promising business opportunities. One of those opportunities was with Gateway Bookbinding, of Winnipeg, Canada, which sought to establish a dealership in the region for a new product it was marketing called PLASTIKOIL binding. This binding process involves a specially formulated, plastic coil extrusion that is spiraled through round holes at five per inch.

Although the Barkleys had no experience in printing and binding, their background in general contracting did provide them with the knowledge necessary to operate a business. More importantly, their drive and determination coupled with a keen understanding of exactly what customers were looking for—quick turnarounds, quality and responsive service at a reasonable cost—put them on track to eventually become the largest PLASTIKOIL binding dealership anywhere in the United States.

A business that began in the family's barn, this proverbial mom-and-pop operation has since grown into an operation with annual sales of $2.5 million and approximately 40 employees, running a full range of finishing equipment at two locations: the Warrendale, PA, headquarters and Zelienople, PA. Incidentally, the company has achieved this success completely through word-of-mouth, without ever hiring a single dedicated salesperson.

While the PLASTIKOIL product represents one of the company's biggest successes, it is by no means the end of the story. PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania has continually expanded into other types of bindery work. In addition to mechanical binding with PLASTIKOIL, the company is now recognized as a full-service bindery/finishing source for everything from double Wire-O binding, specialty flat-sheet collating and hand-assembled pocket folders to mass mailings and specialty kit packaging, including POS promotional kits.

Other services of this very versatile organization include warehousing and shipping, pad printing and a variety of miscellaneous services such as: six-hole drilling, cutting and trimming, shrink-wrapping and three-ring binder assembly. The company is currently planning to add laminating, foil-stamping, diecutting and embossing to its growing menu of services.

The Perfect Solution
Over the years, perfect binding of text books, manuals, annual reports and similar applications surfaced as an important segment of business for PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania. In response to increased sales in this area, the company decided it was time to add another machine for perfect binding. After considering three other brands, it settled on a Vijuk Euro-Bind Perfect Binder 4M/P, which was installed in September 1997.

In describing their reasons for going with the Vijuk Euro-Bind machine, Matthew Barkley, production manager, and Robie Barkley, plant manager at the Zelienople facility, first indicate the side-gluing unit.

"It is very precise in the way it applies a uniform bead of glue for a hinge cover," Matthew points out.

Both Matthew and Robie were also impressed with how "user-friendly" the controls are. "The control panel allows for easy setup and little makeready, which is critical when the printer gives you the exact quantity it wants back," explains Matthew.

"This binder also appeared to be much better built than the others we checked out," adds Robie, who heads up the company's perfect-binding operations.

Robie claims that the Euro-Bind has proven itself extremely dependable in meeting deadlines for the incoming crush of work handled on a daily basis. "Our customers will deliver books to us in the morning and be back for pickup that same afternoon. And, in many instances, the quantities are several thousand books."

Capable of production speeds up to 1,000 books per hour, the Euro-Bind Perfect Binder 4M/P handles binding thicknesses of up to 15⁄8˝ (40mm). Maximum book size is 161⁄2x121⁄2˝, and minimum book size is 77⁄8x2˝.

Among the special features of the Euro-Bind are the hotmelt tank, which is equipped with two glue rollers, a stop-glue device, side-gluing device and temperature control. A small "pre-melter" is located in the front of the main tank. To ensure a perfect separation of any type of cover, the machine also features an air-suction cover feeder (pile height is approximately 31⁄8˝).

Additionally, the Euro-Bind employs four clamps that are engineered to stop at the block hand-feeding position automatically. Due to the pressurized opening/closing of the clamps, there is no need for adjustments if the booklet thickness fluctuates.

The Euro-Bind Perfect Binder 4M/P also includes an electric jogger/vibrator, fret milling and cut milling devices (maximum 1⁄8˝), chip suction device, glue fume exhaust with active carbon filter, detachable automatic cover press, programmable pre-heat timer, scoring device and an automatic counter.

According to Micheline Barkley in customer service, Vijuk Equipment's technical support has been another bright spot: "In terms of response time, knowledgeable people and assistance throughout the sale, their support has been outstanding." Tricia Trubic, also in customer service, adds that Vijuk was particularly helpful during installation and setup, making sure the company had the necessary electrical and air requirements for operating the machine.

Though the need for replacement parts has yet to come up, no one at PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania appears to be particularly worried. On that point Matthew Barkley confidently states, "Vijuk has a very good reputation throughout the industry for standing behind the products it sells. I really can't see parts availability as being a problem—whether we're talking about tomorrow or a couple of years from now."

Don Barkley concurs with the others members of PLASTIKOIL of Pennsylvania's management staff: "This is the first machine we've bought from Vijuk. But based on our experience with the perfect binder, I would not hesitate to purchase another piece of equipment from them when the need arises."

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