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TOPPAN PRINTING AMERICA -- Hitting with Power

January 2002
BY ERIK CAGLE


Shingo Ohkado has an appreciation for baseball, and is an admirer of transplanted Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki, the 2001 Most Valuable Player and right fielder for the Seattle Mariners.

Ohkado—president and CEO for Toppan Printing America of Somerset, NJ, a branch of the Tokyo-based worldwide printing king—sees an analogy between the sport and doing business in an economy that has seen better days in both America and his Japanese homeland.

Revenues, like a player's batting average, are impacted by a number of variables. While Ichiro hit .350 to lead all of baseball, he was still prone to periodic slumps. Good pitching or spectacular defensive plays could rob him of certain hits, "and sometimes," Ohkado says, "even Ichiro is unreliable."

A printer's costs, he adds, are like your team's defense. That can be controlled internally, and improved. Let your guard down, and a costly error could be the result.

By keeping a tight rein on those factors that a company can control, the chances of gaining cost savings, which can be passed on to bottom-line-conscious customers, are increased.

Toppan America is proud of its newest heavy hitter, a 10-color Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 102 sheetfed perfector that was added in 2001. The Toppan team will increase its chances of competing for the New York metropolitan area "pennant" this year with the addition of a 12-color model of the same variety.

Cleaning Up

"The contributions of the 10-color press have been tremendous," Ohkado remarks. "This press has greatly improved our efficiency and has helped us control costs. It gives us a unique advantage over our competitors."

By being able to print 10 colors inline or any combination up to five-over-five, Toppan America is able to seize the metro market by producing high page count, short-run catalogs effectively and snare work that "falls under the radar screen of half-webs," notes Peter Grant, senior vice president of sales and marketing. "It's very difficult for other sheetfed printers to compete with us, simply because of the fact that we're producing two sides of the sheet on 40˝ equipment, while they're producing one side.

"Our production is almost double and, as a result, our time to deliver is cut almost in half. That's a unique characteristic for Toppan in the New York marketplace."

It is a distinct advantage in a marketplace that is both large and lucrative. And while Toppan America registers sales figures of $35 million in each of the book and commercial printing/publications divisions, it also has the backing of the world's second-largest commercial printing concern. Toppan Printing Ltd., of Tokyo, has annual worldwide sales of $10 billion to $12 billion, derived from its seven divisions which produce products and services that range the full gamut of the communications industry—commercial, publication, book, package and specialty printing, as well as electronics and multimedia. The printing and publishing group, which includes Toppan America, generates roughly $3 billion of that total.
 

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