Printing Impressions

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Gapen on UV

Gapen on UV

By Darren Gapen

About Darren

Darren has worked in the printing industry for 30 years and spent more than 12 years at two of the nation's leading high-end commercial printers: Bradley Printing in Des Plaines, IL, and Williamson Printing Corp. in Dallas, TX. During that time, he operated conventional and UV 40˝ sheetfed presses and also successfully managed a $15-million pressroom equipment transition. Darren also was Lead Press Instructor for Heidelberg, where he directed specialty equipment startups and was involved in all aspects of the printing process by teaching both instructor and pressroom employees.

In addition, he served as a troubleshooter for various printing companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. As operations manager for a start-up specialty folding carton company, he played a key role in achieving more than $6 million in sales within two years. Currently Darren is president of D.G. Print Solutions, a consulting firm that supports printing companies of all sizes. He specializes in growth development planning, pressroom color management and pressroom training through specialty print applications.

 

Who’s Driving the Bus?

 
There were many adjustments we had to make when we moved our family to the South. One of the largest was dealing with termites. There’s a saying down here: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when they'll invade.

I’m sure that you would agree this is a very unsettling feeling...even after you spend hundreds of dollars per year with companies to prevent those little creatures from moving in with you. Then the questions become: Will they bring the entire family? and What is the extent of the damage they'll cause?

I watched the front entrance of a neighbor’s house be pulled apart piece by piece until all of the trails had ended and then the repairs began. The termites had entered through the weathered door trim and continued eating their way through the attached pieces of wood there after.

How could something as small as overgrown ants with wings do almost $12,000 worth of damage? Where was the company that was paid to protect the property with annual inspections and the so-called insurance policy it provided? Well, the homeowner didn’t read the fine print and the company he trusted with his home was only looking out for itself. Obviously, it didn’t have his best interest at heart.

I think we have all witnessed this a time or two in our businesses. You rely on your vendors to support you through the good times as well as the bad. Are they truly looking out for your best interest? Are they pushing you in another direction rather than assisting you with the solution? Are they making adjustments to your equipment just to compensate for the short comings of their products? Ask yourself: Do they have your back or theirs? And, Who is driving the bus? Being let down is not always the case, but when it happens once, that’s once too many. Such relationships should be a partnership and vendors have to remember that if you’re not successful, neither are they.

Think of the relationship as dating and not marriage. The only commitment you have is to you and your company. Use the best products available designed for your applications. If you are experiencing issues with supplies or service and they are not being resolved, then sample some other products. You might be surprised when you find the grass could be greener on the other side.

I also hear customers complain of multiple P.O.s and how they want to cut as few as possible. That, nor the free baseball tickets, case of wine, or just because the salesman lives next door, should be the determining factor when it’s time to reordering materials. The personal touches and benefits are nice, but at what cost to you?

There are some great vendors out there that will support you and your business to their fullest capability. They not only have outstanding products but also the technical support that is sometimes required. Unfortunately, no one company has all of the perfect products for your operation when you start adding more specialty applications to your foundation.

Also keep in mind it’s usually not the press crews getting the gifts and trinkets. In many cases, it’s good to listen to their concerns and input. They are the front line and have to use the products on a daily basis. Remember that drag racing crew chiefs and mechanics rely on the driver’s feedback for the success of getting the hot rod down the quarter mile.

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