Star Print & Mail -- Ready, Willing and AbleNovember 2008 By Cheryl Adams
Today, Swanson Sr., who purchased the company in 1978, is readying for retirement. Kim Swanson holds the business reigns, with the support and assistance of Swanson Jr.
There are 27 employees at Star Print & Mail, including a programmer who specializes in postal issues, such as mailing rates, as well as variable data projects. The company, which was established in 1906 and whose original claim to fame included producing racy burlesque posters for New York and Philadelphia saloons, offers offset and digital printing, a complete bindery and a wide range of mailing services. Clients include national and local corporations, colleges and universities, ad agencies, non-profit groups and general commercial accounts. Interestingly, with all the services that Star Print has to offer, there is no marketing person.
“Our marketing is done mostly by word of mouth,” explains Swanson Sr., noting that the 102-year-old company has had a long time for word to get around. Even without a marketing director, the company had enough volume to fill its two Heidelberg Speedmasters, both six-color, 40? perfectors, one with an aqueous coater.
A surge in sales came in August 2006, when the Swansons installed an HP Indigo 5000 digital press and expanded into variable data printing and direct mail services. (The company had been offering “mailing” services since 1998, but was limited to black-and-white addressing only.) To promote its newly expanded capabilities (literally, in a word), “Mail” was added to the company’s name.
Volume increased incrementally with the addition of its digital product offerings. However, six months into the Indigo’s operation, the Swansons realized that there was “a gap” in the production process: the mid-range runs between its high-volume Heidelbergs and short runs on the Indigo.
“We were losing market share in that gap area, and we needed to be able to economically print runs of 1,000 to 30,000,” explains Swanson Sr. “There was a Presstek direct imaging (DI) press being demonstrated in nearby King of Prussia [PA], so we went to see it. Once we saw it in action, we knew we needed it and had to take the step forward. We considered other DI technology, but Presstek had the newest, most modern DI press on the market.”
The big key is speed, adds Swanson Jr. “Twenty-minute makeready, using 20 sheets of paper, on the Presstek vs. 21/2 hours and 1,000 sheets on the Heidelberg. That’s a huge cost savings in makeready. And, it still makes smaller jobs look like high-end pieces.”
As far as the Swansons know, their Presstek 52 DI is the only one in the Delaware Valley. “The DI press allows us to be really competitive, in part because the color and quality are so good,” Kim adds. “And it allows us to make money, too, because it’s economical—and eco-friendly—to use.”
Now that Star Print & Mail is FSC certified and has pumped up its greening initiatives, Kim says, the company is winning clients it didn’t have before going green. Others customers seek out the company because of its arsenal of mailing and fulfillment equipment. Still others pursue the printer because of its extensive finishing capabilities, which include everything from saddlestitching, to perfect and spiral binding, to folding, cutting and diecutting.
Last, but far from least, many clients seek out Star Print & Mail because of its overall appeal. “Ours is a small, personal company that quickly provides a quality product at a competitive price, using the latest in technology—and, above all, offers excellent customer service,” she concludes.
Always ready, willing and able to provide the utmost in customer service—because who would expect less from a Marine and his family? PI