2021 Innovator of the Year: Spectrum Printing Pushes Digital Printing to the Limit
In today’s printing industry, the concept of innovation is wide in definition, but rather narrow in its goal. Leading companies have grasped many tools to define themselves, increase profitability, and differentiate. They utilize new technologies, systems integration, an expanded product mix, exemplary customer service, and more.
As a group, the eight companies included in the 2021 class of Printing Impressions’ Innovators of the Year demonstrate new approaches that can move printing businesses forward and possess strong insight into where the industry is going. Even amid the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, these companies succeed, grow, focus, and inspire.
This year’s innovators were nominated by a group of printing industry experts and consultants, who identified them as notables. The summary of Spectrum Printing that follows shares what makes this company innovative, interesting, and exceptional. The insight it presents may provide the inspiration you need to take your company to a new level, or in a new direction.
Spectrum Printing | Tucson, Arizona
Although Spectrum Printing serves the commercial printing sector, Operations Manager Ken Huizenga says the company is becoming more of a digital shop, and has been moving away from traditional offset printing. That said, roughly 30% of the company’s output is offset, and is printed on a six-color Komori sheetfed press.
On the digital side, Spectrum is running a fleet of six Konica Minolta machines, and a Komori Impremia IS29 sheetfed UV inkjet press. The move to inkjet, Huizenga says, came from the company challenging itself: “What more can this machine do? What new and different production can we offer to our customers.”
Huizenga believes Spectrum Printing is an innovator — and one of the industry’s best — because of strong relationships with its customers, and the trust they have in the company working with them to provide solutions that meet their price points.
He also says the company’s owner, George Stewart, who bought the company in 1986, is willing to explore the opportunities of new technologies. The company has even worked with equipment manufacturers to help them push new equipment in new directions.
“Spectrum Printing is remarkable because of their ability to remain nimble and enter new business segments that further support their growing customer base,” notes Joe Marin, VP, training and education, at PRINTING United Alliance, “all while offering their client base the personalized service and high quality they demand.”
Asked to provide examples of what makes Spectrum so innovative, Huizenga says the company has developed mastery at producing short runs on its digital presses, even to the point of doing one-off prototypes for customers on the same press that the full job will be produced on.
He also highlights Spectrum’s investment into print embellishment, which is done on an MGI JetVarnish machine. The embellishment technology, which includes a foil effect, can be used with variable data to produce astounding results, Huizenga points out. “It leads to an increased level of intimacy with the print, which is a slam-dunk for our customers and for theirs.”
Finally, Spectrum prides itself on being able to provide a price point for every product its customers need to have. This arises, he says, from both a commitment to meeting customer needs and to having equipment on hand that assists them in offering a range of viable choices.
Looking ahead, Huizenga sees the company moving completely away from traditional offset printing and its supporting equipment. “I look forward to no chemistry, no rags or cleaning, and no VOCs. It will eliminate a waste stream, making us more eco-friendly and safer.” He notes, however, that the company will have to stay on the cutting edge to achieve that goal.
Equipment-wise, Spectrum Printing is considering wide-format inkjet printing and cutting systems for corrugated box conversion. Huizenga believes these tools, when in place, will “complete the circle for providing all things short-run digital, and really enhance the value of our embellishment techniques.”