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The Secret of Selling Postpress

October 1999
There's A dirty little secret among some of the country's largest printers. It's not something they all want their competitors to know. And it has to do with the most overlooked part of the print stream.

Their secret? The bindery can sell print jobs.

Traditionally, the bindery was seen only as a necessary evil, the unpopular room tucked in a corner of the plant, where the product was finished once all the "real work" of designing and printing was done. Print buyers would look for companies with the most advanced prepress areas and pressrooms, and then expect that the product would be cut, folded and bound as a matter of course.

Now, many savvy print buyers and brokers are starting to ask for tours of the bindery and are learning what the various machines do. They're looking for shops with advanced postpress systems that not only do the job, but do it quickly and efficiently.

"The prepress equipment is a technical wonder, and the pressroom is easy to understand. Everyone knows what it means to put ink on paper," says Tom Green, vice president of manufacturing at L.P. Thebault Co., a Parsippany, NJ-based printer. "But talk about making a signature into a book, or making a gate fold, or how to diecut a piece—and the print buyers haven't a clue."

L.P. Thebault Co. is now offering its Fortune 500 clients seminars on the bindery, explaining what is going on and what value postpress can add to a job. Part of what has changed the attitude about the bindery are the technical advancements that have sped up the workflow.

L.P. Thebault recently installed a pair of Heidelberg Pacesetter 705 stitchers. The stitchers allow for greater flexibility by allowing the firm to keep more work in-house. Production has also increased by as much as 35 percent.

More Value, Less Cost
According to Green, the advancements in speed—combined with the relatively inexpensive equipment, supplies and workforce—add up to a greater amount of value-added to a product at a lower cost. The customer must absorb the costs of ink, paper and chemicals used in the pressroom, as well as the cost of film or plates in the prepress shop, but in the bindery, most of the cost is in the labor.

"A salesperson who goes out and competes against a printer that doesn't have a bindery is more likely to win the job," contends Green, who notes that once a job comes in to L.P. Thebault, it doesn't go out until it's done.

 

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