Allied Printing--Crowning Customers
"Our philosophy has always been: If you just print and bind, you'll have 100 competitors in a one-mile radius," adds Gerald F. Sommers, executive vice president and marketing director of the company he co-owns with his brother. "If you start adding services and differentiating yourself from your competitors, you'll have one competitor in a 100-mile radius, which is more conducive to growing your business and doing well."
Jon Kaufman, 39, vice president of technology development, has worked at Allied Printing for 16 years and was also greatly influenced by the teachings of John F. Sommers, who passed away in January 1994.
"Over the years, Allied has skyrocketed because of the reinvestment the Sommers family has made in the equipment we've brought in to handle different types of work," Kaufman says. "The company has expanded its potential, which has grown our customer base. Our clients are very loyal—some have been with us since the beginning."
Change of Heart
The elder Sommers started the business as a two-person operation out of a store front in 1949 and gradually built it into a 250,000-plus-square-foot establishment employing more than 300 workers. A World War II pilot who met his future wife in England, where he was stationed, John F. Sommers actually was attending school to be a lawyer before being called on to defend his country. Upon returning, he had a vocational change of heart.
While perusing an Army business survey, he took notice of an industry that ranked with the least amount of bankruptcies and with the average age of the owner in the mid-50s. Thus, commercial printing seemed like the perfect career. Indeed, it was, and still is, as far as Allied Printing is concerned.
The company continues to flourish, largely due to its ownership's willingness to invest and reinvest in new technologies. Over the last 15 years, Allied Printing has welcomed the opportunity to be the alpha or beta sites for technology manufacturers such as Hell, Scitex, Gerber, Agfa and Apple, among others. Allied owns one of the biggest server configurations under one roof, with two SGI Octane 2000 servers with 28 CPUs and 14GB of RAM. The first mainstream sector installation of Fiber Channel Raid occurred here, and the ATM Fiber Network Imprint Publishing debuted at Allied, as well. According to Kaufman, Allied Printing went thermal computer-to-plate with a Gerber (now BARCO) system before DRUPA 1995 and, at the start of this year, the second generation of Agfa Galileo thermal platesetting devices were installed.