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What the Heidelberg and Unisource Partnership Means for Printers

November 30, 2010
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In June, Heidelberg USA and Unisource Worldwide announced a partnership whereby Unisource will serve as the U.S. distributor of Heidelberg’s Saphira-branded consumables. It will enable commercial printers to order paper and consumables at the same time, either online or through a single phone call, for same- or next-day delivery by Unisource. It reportedly will also allow printers to reduce costs and achieve economies of scale by managing their equipment, consumables and paper purchases as a bundled offering.

Printing Impressions Editor-in-Chief Mark Michelson sat down recently with Jim Dunn, president of Heidelberg USA, and Allan Dragone, CEO of Unisource Worldwide, to discuss what this new alliance will mean for their printer customers.

PRINTING IMPRESSIONS: Can you start out by explaining what lead to this agreement in the first place?

JIM DUNN: On Heidelberg's side, it was the growing requirements of our customers in their adoption of our consumables business, which was getting beyond our ability to serve them at the level required. We began exploring what else could be done, and decided to look for third-party organization that was not already engaged in the consumables business. By the luck of it, we came upon Unisource, a best-in-class industry company right in our home town.

ALLAN DRAGONE: I'm not sure who initiated the first meeting between our companies. Unisource had considered getting more into the consumables market many times. Some of our major competitors are already in that market. Obviously, we are well-positioned from a supply chain and location standpoint, delivering too many of those customers anyway. But we never felt comfortable enough to pull the trigger on that decision, especially as a company coming third into that arena. We were cognizant in having the right partner and deciding what would be the best fit.

At the same time, Unisource was looking at how it could expand its third-party logistics business. So, we met with Heidelberg, and quickly realized that a partnership could be a very good fit. It was a very fortuitous meeting, and I remember coming away from it feeling that we really needed to pursue the idea. There is a real good fit and a benefit to both companies, which is often not the case. It probably has taken more time than we first thought as we're trying to ramp it up. But, that's what happens when you have two well-established companies trying to make everything line up correctly before introducing it into the marketplace. But, thank goodness, we're now at the point and are moving forward.
 

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