A Master Salesman
PI: As the company grew from a print brokerage firm to a digital prepress provider and a printer itself, what digital technologies did you invest in? Also, what is your opinion of digital investments—and marketing those investments to your customer base?
Abrams: Over the years (obviously moving out of that one-room start), we invested in a new prep and prepress department, which included desktop scanning, high-end drum scanning, full Mac workstations, PC workstations, and the latest in retouching and imposition software tools. We invested in digital prepress hardware from Screen (USA).
Marketing our services was easy because the reason for the investment was to fulfill an existing need from our customers. They felt comfortable coming to the prep department, and often we would sit them down at the Mac and have them work with our prepress people directly. Talk about hands-on. We believe open communication with the client is critical. The client must feel like he or she is a welcome part of the print production team.
PI: Speaking of the client, how did you grow Empire Graphics from eight customers the first year to 200 customer by 1999? What is your management secret for promoting your cause?
Abrams: In 1995, we created a new identity, look and series of promotional brochures and related promotional items.We also took advantage of the need for a customer-friendly printing plant in the SOHO area of New York. Clients wanted to be able to go to a printer quickly, check their job and get back to work.
Most of our clients walk or cab their way to our offices. Some even roller blade or skateboard to us, although not the corporate types. We have a very open approach to the customer—we work in a consultative way. We always want to show how something can be done, as opposed to listing all the difficulties about how it can't be done.