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Taking Change to the Edge

February 2001
MILFORD, OH—About two years ago, Robert Wickens and George Lajti came up with a plan.

The president and CEO, respectively, of then-Cincinnati-based Edge Graphics wanted to accomplish three things: one, find a site for a new, bigger facility with ample room for growth; two, embark on a $5 million equipment expansion project; and three, convert to a fully digital workflow. Two years later: mission accomplished.

In an ambitious undertaking, Edge Graphics—which specializes in high-end commercial work—accomplished all three items on its agenda, with a little time to spare. According to Wickens, Milford—a Cincinnati suburb that won out over several sites in the Queen City and northern Kentucky area—was chosen in January of 2000.

The purchase was completed in March, construction began in April and was finished by early November. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by state and local officials, was held in mid-December to officially launch the $2 million facility. It has been termed the largest sheetfed printing company expansion in Greater Cincinnati's history.

All the while the new facility was taking shape, Edge Graphics had other matters to contend with, particularly the acquisition and full conversion to a CTP environment. Within 90 days, the company had completely rid itself of cameras and film. Also in the meantime, two new 40˝ presses, along with an inserter/stitcher/trimmer were installed. All the new equipment bears the Heidelberg name, as does all the other equipment at Edge Graphics.

When Edge Graphics commits itself to something, 100 percent seems to be the reoccurring theme.

"To service our customers and stay at the edge, so to speak, we needed to go CTP and we needed the large-format presses," states Wickens. "Plus, our old facility in Cincinnati was 24,000 square feet, and we didn't have enough room to add anything."

The new facility is just under 40,000 square feet and is situated on 91⁄2 acres of property, leaving ample room for expansion. That shouldn't be a problem for the 103-year-old company, which has grown nearly four-fold in the last 10 years.

"We took the plunge because we knew that if we didn't do it, we'd lose customers," Wickens remarks.

Remarkably, Lajti points out that Edge Graphics was closed only one day to allow the prepress and finishing departments to be transported.

"It's been a very exciting year for us," Lajti says. "It's the culmination of a plan we put together two years ago. We realized we were going to max out in the facility we were in, and we knew that to make that move and do the technology move, it would mean wholesale changes."

Knowing that the company would have its hands full with the move late in the year, Wickens and Lajti scheduled the CTP conversion for earlier in 2000. In came a Heidelberg Nexscan scanner and a Creo-

Scitex Trendsetter CTP system that also outputs Imation Matchprint proofs.

"We were 100-percent CTP four months before the move," Lajti notes. "The CTP process, and our decision not to wait until the physical move to install it, was the best decision we could have made. It's been a very seamless transition, and we've received great support from Heidelberg and CreoScitex. We're now totally filmless, and it's been a great experience."

Edge Graphics shelled out $5 million to bolster its press and finishing arsenal. Heidelberg delivered a six-color, 40˝ Speedmaster with tower coater and a two-color, 40˝ Speedmaster perfecting press, as well as a Stitchmaster ST-270 inserter/stitcher/trimmer with six pockets and two cover decks.

Late in 2000, Edge Graphics also added File Transfer Protocol (FTP) capabilities for digital file transmission over the Internet. The company can now accept virtually any size file through its site, a plus for Edge Graphics' customers.

Wickens notes that Edge Graphics' reputation for customer service and its highly competitive geographical market should enable it to continue along its growth path.

"Customers find that the pricing in Cincinnati is more reasonable than certain other markets," Wickens says. "We find we're very competitive on a national basis, as well as in the Caribbean."

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