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Sun Inc. -- Integration Put to the Test

November 2008 By Mark Smith
Technology Editor
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LIKE ITS name, the story of Sun Printing has been bright since its earliest days. The company has been profitable from its first month in business, reports Andy Cook, president and CEO, when the staff consisted of the three owners and a bookkeeper. Twenty-five years later, Sun now operates in six locations, employing around 220 people. Philip Morris, vice president and director of sales, and Kathi Cook, secretary/treasurer and Andy’s wife, complete the management/ownership triumvirate.

There was a darker day, though, when the owner of another printing company where the three had met and worked was killed in a tragic accident. After exploring the possibility of buying that company, they teamed up to open Sun Printing in Orangeburg, SC, and assumed basically the roles they have today—Andy oversees operations, Philip leads the sales effort, and Kathi handles human resources and manages the front office.

Currently, there is a new era dawning at Sun Inc. (its corporate name) as it works to bring online a completely new facility in Columbia, SC. “It’s going to incorporate a totally integrated production system from front to back,” Cook says with pride. “We are going to be one of the few shops in the country that has gone to this extent, if there are any others that can match us.”

Initially, the organization was looking to just acquire a new press. It opted for a four-color, 41? Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 sheetfed model with coater to increase productivity, owing to its fast running speeds and quick setup times. 

Growing Possibilities

“We started to look at other pieces of equipment and the capabilities they had, and our idea of what was possible started to grow,” Cook explains. “We finally came to the conclusion that to make end-to-end, integrated production work, we needed to add all new equipment—MIS, platemaker, press, cutters, folders and stitchers—at once and stay with one manufacturer.”

Even with the major commitment the management trio has made to developing a highly automated, interconnected printing process built on Heidelberg’s Prinect technology and enabled by the Job Definition Format (JDF), Cook still likes to refer to it as a theory. “If it works, this is going be the biggest change I’ve seen in the 35 years I’ve been in the printing business,” he says.


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