The Fong Dynasty
We've seen the requirements of customer service shift dramatically recently. Our clients expect us to perform every facet of the work flow, from beginning to end. We receive files that are delivered to our Web server, preflight them, modify them if necessary, send proofs and print. We've even taken the role of shipper, distributing the final product. And now, we provide asset management—storing and maintaining files on our servers—so customers can access them and change them for future jobs.
In terms of supplier connections, we value the same service and relationships our customers do. So, if prices are maintained reasonably in line with other vendors, we prefer to stay with the vendor who has demonstrated reliability and loyalty to us.
PI: How has industry consolidation affected Optronics?
Fong: The consolidation of vendors means it's of paramount importance for Optronics to benefit from partnerships with other companies who provide complementary products and services. Working together with press manufacturers, consumable vendors and front-end software developers enables Optronics to be part of a complete workflow, providing customers with a complete solution.
Industry dynamics provide an advantage for Optronics. Many of the plates produced on platesetters are expensive, long-run plates. However, many commercial shops are managing shorter runs that don't require plates which can produce a half million impressions.
Optronics platesetters can be fitted with any of several wavelength choices of thermal and visible light. This allows the customer to select the best plate for his operation, and substitute imaging heads at a later date if circumstances warrant. For example, you can start with visible plates, and switch to thermal next year. You can't do that with other platesetters.
PI: Talk about the activities at Fong Brothers Printing. What are your revenues and to what percentage has Fong Brothers gone digital?
Fong: Last year was one of stellar, record financial performance. Revenues increased nearly 15 percent, and we sustained a healthy bottom line. This is due to our continuing focus on speed and service. Our prepress capabilities have been completely upgraded at our printing facilities in San Francisco, enabling us to run approximately 90 percent of our work digitally. We assembled a complete Web server with asset management to better satisfy our customers. Our digital proofing capabilities were also enhanced, so that our workflow could be accelerated.