access direct systems: Access Direct Systems is Leading a Long Island Inkjet Revolution
The world of direct mail entails an ever-changing landscape, and Access Direct Systems of Farmingdale, NY, has endured quite an evolution in the past two years alone. With three Long Island facilities churning out more than one billion direct marketing and transactional mail pieces annually, the 550-employee organization is charged with helping clients get the most bang for their mailing investments while navigating through the waters of increasing paper and postage costs.
Although direct mail and transactional printing volumes have seen some attrition, the mailing community has increased its segmentation practices in the past 10 years or so, offering hundreds, and even thousands, of targeted messages designed to maximize response rates. And that is where Access Direct Systems truly shines, by assisting customers in leveraging the most of their data. Postage and paper efficiencies are a given, but there are fortunes to be had, tucked away in plain sight among the reams of mail recipient data.
“Our corporate principles have a background in data and we’re always instructing our customers to recognize that their creativity and options are limitless based on the use of the data that they’re providing us,” notes Lori Messina, executive vice president.
“We get very intimate with their projects and try to be involved upstream as much as possible. Some customers welcome that and others take a bit longer to become engaged. Because we have very close ties to the data, we can make many recommendations to them—their selection criteria for postage analysis, for cleansing and hygiene of their data files, all the way through their creative production design for efficiencies.”
Founded in 1969, Access Direct Systems provides a full range of capabilities, including highly personalized digital printing, package segmentation, data receipt and conversion, postal presorting, list hygiene, document creation and archiving, in-line and off-line affixing, inserting, commingling and co-palletization. Clients include publishers, financial and banking institutions, insurance companies, retailers, ad agencies and Fortune 1000 firms, among others.
Maximizing Postal Savings for Clients
According to John DiNozzi Jr., executive vice president of the family-owned firm, 99.9 percent of everything the company produces ends up in the mail stream. All of the content is letter-based mail, which DiNozzi calls the company’s niche. Access Direct Systems doesn’t handle newspapers or magazines.
“Postage is an important part of our business,” he observes. “It is such a huge, fluctuating number in our customers’ budgets. So, we’ve invested heavily in our commingling and logistics operations, as well as I.T., to get the lowest rates possible.”
The ability to secure the best possible postal discounts has enabled Access Direct Systems to forge long-standing relationships with those clients, some of which have been on board for upwards of 25 years. Trust and collaboration have enabled the company to foster that project intimacy, as well as provide recommendations as to testing campaigns and insight to the best use of color.
“We made the commitment to expand our high-speed digital inkjet services in order to be able to offer our customers the ability to achieve higher response rates from their mailings and also achieve cost and time savings,” Messina says. “Statistics prove that color personalizing messages to customers’ needs, wants and desires makes a connection and drives increased response. Color personalized graphics create an immediate visual interest.
“The ability to drive messages in an all-in-one color environment can result in cost savings in postage by collapsing creatives and batching production packages,” she adds. “In addition, inkjet print-on-demand eliminates costly print overruns. Cycle time reduction is an additional benefit because print-on-demand provides the ability to forego the time-consuming lead time for preprinting of forms.”
A revolution took hold at Access Direct Systems a little more than two years ago. The idea was to find an alternative to the company’s fleet of toner-based, continuous-feed digital printers. In past years, DiNozzi had considered different solutions, including in-line letter presses, which didn’t suit Access Direct Systems’ needs.
He’d witnessed the growing migration toward high-speed production inkjet printing technology and wanted to find a system that could quickly turn around high-volume runs without compromising on quality. An invitation by Canon Solutions America to visit the Canon facility in Poing, Germany, opened a world of color...and much more.
In December of 2013, Access Direct Systems installed its first Océ ColorStream 3900 full-color, continuous-feed digital printing system, which went live in January of last year. A second Océ ColorStream 3900 was added in June, then—just in time for Christmas—two more ColorStream 3900s joined the fold. A five-year rebuild plan was compressed into just one year, and more than 20 existing toner devices at Access Direct Systems suddenly became expendable.
“We kicked a lot of tires on machines of different vendors, but came to the realization that Canon Solutions America was the right fit for us. We were happy with the product, service and support,” DiNozzi remarks. “We’d been using Océ/Canon products for 20+ years and felt comfortable in staying with them.”
Why did Access Direct Systems accelerate its migration to a production inkjet platform to such a degree? The company ran that first Océ ColorStream 3900 through the paces and, in a 24/7 operation, the system blew away Access Direct’s existing toner-based presses in terms of uptime. The 3900s are arranged in an “H” configuration, which allows Access Direct Systems to operate as four duplex systems or eight simplex, or any combination in between. The speed in which the machines can alternate between color and black-only has been a benefit for the company.
Eliminate Need for Preprinted Shells
The four new ColorStream 3900s also enable Access Direct Systems to better manage color and paper, while doing away with the time-intensive and costly need for preprinted shells. Familiarity with Océ/Canon gear also made for a swift and simple ramping-up process. In short order, the company beefed up its client roster while augmenting MICR and transpromo printing capabilities.
“We’ve spent a good amount of time becoming better educated about paper options, because that changes in the world of inkjet digital printing,” Messina notes. “We’ve found what we consider to be the right product to offer in different poundage that gives the best quality for this technology, and that continues to change, as well. Depending on segmentation, we’ll make recommendations on paper considerations based at different cost points.”
Later this year, Access Direct Systems will also tap Canon Solutions America for its new Océ VarioPrint i300 cut-sheet digital inkjet system, formerly known as Niagara technology. “This will open up new possibilities for us. The current cut-sheet environment that we’re in is too expensive and too slow,” DiNozzi points out. “It will definitely help us move into higher quality and quicker turnarounds.”
With the increased inkjet printing speeds and capacity, Access Direct Systems naturally encountered a need to also bolster its finishing capabilities. The company opted for a high-speed Hunkeler/Standard Horizon setup that included a Hunkeler UW6 unwinder, a Standard FM6 folder merger, a Hunkeler CS6-II cutter, a Standard AF-566 buckle folder (with a Standard DIF-56 transport unit) and a Standard PSX-56 stacker.
Both DiNozzi and Messina attended Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne, Switzerland, last month, where they checked out a variety of creative finishing solutions, as well as coating options for self-mailers. Further acquisitions will also target the commingling operations.
It has been an interesting 16 months for Access Direct Systems, a company that has traditionally made conservative, measured decisions in mapping out its game plan. But its desire to remain a flexible, focused partner for its mailing clients is what dictated such an unprecedented, production inkjet-related initiative. This huge recommitment, as DiNozzi terms it, has set the tone for the next 15 to 20 years.
“It really changed the whole landscape of our company,” he concludes. “We moved in this new direction and we’re not looking back. We’ll continue to be viewed as an industry leader, spearheading what’s become an industry-wide inkjet movement and an ever-changing direct mail world. We want to continue to grow in a controlled way, while still maintaining our client base and making sure that they remain happy.” PI