Brodock Press--Hidden Treasure
Tucked away in Upstate New York, 40-year-old Brodock Press has gone from a reclamation project to one of the leading commercial printers in the Northeast.
BY ERIK CAGLE
Lost in all the hype surrounding Broadway, the Statue of Liberty and even Jerry Seinfeld, lies a New York that is largely unheralded, dwarfed by the image of the Big Apple. Upstate New York, with its rolling hills, mountains and more than a few lakes, is as majestic and breathtaking as any site in the city of concrete and steel.
Perhaps Utica, NY-based printer Brodock Press was also a victim of its environment—tucked far, far away from the bright lights and big city. While it still occupies space in Mill Square, a 100-year-old landmark building downtown, it is no longer a small fish in the proverbial big pond. Rescued from bankruptcy by then-plant superintendent William G. Brodock in 1960, Brodock Press has swelled from a 12-employee, 10,000-square-foot facility to a 100-employee, 140,000-square-foot operation. The growth can also be seen in sales; print buyers perceive Brodock Press as a solid, local printing option, as well as a viable print provider for national clientele.
The company's motto, "We know no limits," is taken literally at Brodock Press, from President and CEO Craig S. Brodock—William's son—right down the chain of command. Evidence of this can be seen in the company's many levels of customer service, highlighted by Brodock Executive Air. The company-owned plane (two planes, actually) is used to fly customers in from most northeastern airports for press checks or tours of the facility.
"Our geographic location—only a 40-minute flight from New York City—coupled with cutting-edge technology, gives us a competitive edge over the New York City marketplace," Craig Brodock notes.
If press checks require an overnight stay, accommodations are provided at the Brodock Lodge. Situated on 600 acres in the Adirondacks, the lodge can house up to eight guests and is used by clients for company strategy sessions.
These two value-added services reflect the progressive thinking of the younger Brodock, whose father taught him the value of a happy, fully satisfied customer. Barb Falatico, marketing director for Brodock Press, uses terms such as "progressive mindset," "proactive," "customer focused" and "commitment to excellence" to describe her boss.
"Craig follows in his father's footsteps in being a perfectionist," Falatico notes. "He embodies and demands perfection from all levels of Brodock Press. His commitment to our customers is relentless; hence, 'We know no limits' is not just a slogan, but a daily vigilance to exceed the expectations of our clients."
Aside from local accounts, a significant portion of Brodock Press' customer base includes Fortune 500 companies—Tag Heuer, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Prudential, New York University and the Museum of Modern Art—which demand printing performance commensurate with their professional standing.
It is apparent that Brodock Press has not disappointed; last September the company garnered eight awards in five different categories in the PIA's Premier Print Awards and has earned the most PIA awards of any New York state printer and third most in the Northeast over the past five years. Brodock also snared two gold, two silver and a bronze award at the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen 1999 "Best of the Best" Awards.
"Our client base is well aware of the level of high-quality printing that equates to the Brodock brand," Brodock states. "This works as an ongoing impetus for us to seek new methods to meet and exceed their expectations."
In order to meet the challenges of such clientele and reap the accolades, Brodock Press embarked on a $10-million expansion over a three-year period. It culminated with the acquisition of prepress equipment, including an Approval XP4 proofing system from Kodak Polychrome Graphics and a Scitex Lotem platesetter and Brisque IV for computer-to-plate (CTP) production.
In the pressroom, a pair of eight-color Heidelberg Speedmaster CD sheetfed presses, equipped with in-line coaters and extended dryers, were installed. Both are capable of producing conventional, as well as waterless offset, printing.
The bindery was augmented with a third Wexler belly banding machine, new counting and shrink wrap machines, and a Muller Martini saddle stitcher. The crown jewel of the new bindery equipment, however, is a pair of MBO Perfection buckle folders, one equipped with MBO's new, computer-enhanced Rapidset makeready system.
While the privately owned Brodock Press does not disclose annual sales figures, company execs reveal that Brodock has been growing 10 percent annually and is looking to generate an additional $5 million to $8 million in revenues by hiring several more sales reps in the New York City region.
Along with investing in people, Craig Brodock understands the importance of spending money on value-added services. Even after the $10 million, three-year equipment initiative was complete, Brodock spent $2 million on Brodock Executive Air, then decided it was time to let the investments begin earning their pay. Well, that was the plan, anyway.
. . . Keeps on Investing
"Early in 1999, I remember Craig saying, 'We've made all these great purchases, so we're not going to be buying any more equipment this year,' " recalls Bob Hausle, executive vice president. By the end of the year, however, Brodock Press had invested another million dollars' worth of upgrades. "Basically, we launched several smaller initiatives to improve the competitiveness of our company," reveals Hausle.
The prepress area saw some of the greatest enhancements, according to Hausle, with the installation of CTP capabilities. The plant's Macs were upgraded and the company began to investigate methods of having clients submit more complete files electronically; meanwhile, bandwidth was augmented for internal communications. An electronic job ticketing system is currently being tested to allow project managers to access multiple jobs from a number of locations in the plant.
With a digital workflow came certain necessities, such as the Kodak Approval XP4, IRIS proofers and the Scitex Lotem platesetter. Brodock also added a plate image reader for its Heidelberg presses, which allows for the presetting of all ink keys on-press. Automation was also the goal with the acquisition of an Accel ink monitoring system to maintain consistency in all fountains throughout an entire run.
Two new MBO Perfection folders, a B-26S (26x50˝) and B-32S (32x51˝), complement the bindery, which recently reaped a 3,500-square-foot expansion. Folding speed and short makeready times, of course, were main objectives for Brodock Press, but so was ease of use—especially in an industry with a severe shortage of skilled operators.
"It's much easier to have one or two really good people operate several pieces of machinery, as long as the machinery is productive and easy to set up—of which the MBO is," Hausle observes. "At that point, you man it with operators who are conscientious, teamed with helpers to load and unload. That was a real productivity boost for us."
Don Weagley, vice president of plant operations for Brodock Press, also contends that the MBO folders were critical acquisitions. Buoyed by their spiral roller configurations, both folders can handle the wide range of paper stocks that Brodock employs—including those with aqueous coatings and varnish—with mark-free results. The optional Rapidset system was installed on the B-26S format Perfection but not the larger B-32S, which basically handles 16-page signature work.
"We do a lot of standard impositions and can pick up those impositions from the (Rapidset) memory," he says. "That saves considerable makeready time." The microprocessor sets the buckle plates and displays full setup instructions, including slitter shafts and sidelays. Rapidset is preprogrammed with 65 standard folding impositions and has memory capability for 250 more customized folds.
"As far as return on investment, I factor in producing good product in a short amount of time. My profitability is up and each customer gets a quality job," Weagley adds. "The Perfection folder has a very positive infeed, which allows operators to run harder and handle difficult folding stocks. Also, if we're doing perfing or slitting, the register is right on and it holds—so we're able to do different things that make for a quality project. The machine features a cone system, instead of marbles, on its cross-carriages. The Perfection folders are mark-free and run very fast, which enables us to operate at much higher speeds."
And while productivity is a sought-after attribute for commercial printers of all sizes, Falatico points out that being part of a larger printing conglomerate isn't for everyone. "Craig Brodock is steadfast in his philosophy that bigger is not always better," she says. "We have made a conscious effort to remain independent. This allows us to remain intensely focused on unsurpassed customer service.
"Combine that with state-of-the-art technology and craftsmanship, and you have a formula that works. This philosophy pervades the entire Brodock organization."