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Creel Printing : Betting on Growth

October 2009 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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This is the third Sunday press purchased by Creel Printing in the last seven years. In 2003, the company installed a 38˝, eight-color, two-web Sunday 2000, then bought an identical model again in 2005.

"For us, it's all about investing in technology—to produce more pages in the same press run, to increase capacity, and to reduce makereadies and labor," Creel says. "In this market, pricing is more and more competitive, so we have to maintain efficiencies and grow at the same time. The new Sunday press is in that spirit."

Creel Printing also tapped Goss to update its newspaper printing capabilities two years ago, obtaining an eight-tower Magnum 4 press. A long-time provider of newsprint materials, the company had previously been using an older Goss Mercury web press. Community newspapers are supplemented by commercial work, such as convention, government and educational publications, along with catalog work and telephone directories.

To help accommodate the bevy of new (and large) iron, Creel Printing acquired a 15-acre site and constructed a new facility from the ground up that can be expanded up to 450,000 square feet. The new plant allowed the printer to consolidate its operations—which had burgeoned into seven buildings—and gain efficiencies while leveraging lean manufacturing principles. The old headquarters is now home to Creel Printing's newspaper printing operations, and press lines at Creel's Costa Mesa, CA, facility were brought over to the new building. Sales, prepress and digital operations will be maintained at the old Creel Printing of California.

"We gained some tremendous efficiencies, higher quality levels and now have less employees producing more work," Creel says. "We created a recycling department and a chemical control room. It's as 'green' as printing can be, and a better place for people to work."

The substantial additions in its web pressroom made it easy to see where the next need would arise, particularly the bindery. In recent years, Creel has installed a Goss Pacesetter 1100 saddlestitcher with selective binding capabilities to enhance its mailing capabilities. Also joining the team was a high-speed Kolbus Publica perfect binder.

In the next year or two, Creel envisions obtaining more binding and finishing gear to support the Sunday presses. Considerable capital investment is also ticketed for enhancements that speak to automation—feeding or delivery equipment, product moving apparatuses, are the most likely targets.

The greatest growth during the last few years has come from vertical markets such as government, travel, retail catalogs and enthusiast-based products. Direct mail holds significant value to Creel Printing's future; 70 percent of its products enter the mail stream. "We're producing as much work as possible in-line, on saddlestitchers, binders and folders," Creel notes.

About the Bottom Line

Much of the company's value proposition can be derived from its relationship with clients—remaining close to them and monitoring trends in a tenuous economic environment. Enabling success from their standpoint entails making the aforementioned acquisitions, which demonstrates a commitment to both technology and accommodating the needs of clients.

"Everybody's success nowadays is predicated on the bottom line; being able to keep relationships going with current customers, while also being able to facilitate and accommodate new business," explains Allan Creel Sr., CEO. "It's all about maintaining your position in the marketplace, which is still predicated on the dollar value of your company, along with your sales ability and marketing techniques.

"We've built a good reputation, being in the business close to 60 years. If you haven't proven yourself in that length of time, you never will," he notes. "Maintain your reputation and always strive to better accommodate your customers."

Sound advice, particularly in an economy that isn't accommodating printers. PI


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