Despite Different Business Models, Commercial Print Shops Excel With Toner-Based Digital Presses
The Nov. 10 Insight Day of the PRINTING United Digital Experience featured education centered around toner-based digital printing for the commercial printing segment. Among the agenda was the panel session, “Commercial Printers Drive Their Businesses Forward with Toner-Based Digital Printing,” in which moderator Mark Michelsen, editor-in-chief, Printing Impressions, spoke with David Bennett, president, Bennett Graphics, and Lawrence Chou, CEO, Printivity, about the role of this technology in their operations’ profitability and productivity.
As Bennett Graphics’ second-generation owner, Bennett shared the operation has celebrated 52 years in business, 40 of which it was solely utilizing offset technology. At the request of clients, it started building its digital business with a Xerox iGen3, eventually switching over to HP Indigo. In March, the operation was the first commercial beta installation for the new HP Indigo 100K.
“Our goal five years ago was to transform our business to be 50% analog and 50% digital,” said Bennett a 2020 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. “We reached that goal last year. About 53% of our revenue is digital and about 47% is offset. Having that wide breadth of technology and capabilities enables us to take care of our clients whether they have something that’s super critical from a time standpoint or a short run.”
Printivity, on the other hand, is 100% digital, using primarily Ricoh technology in addition to Xerox. As an e-commerce printer with locations in San Diego and New Jersey, the 10-year-old operation strives to make its customers’ experiences of ordering print online easier and faster, giving them more options and improving their ROI.
Although there were questions when digital/dry toner ink first hit the market, Chou said it has proven to be a reliable technology that has helped Printivity build out its product pipeline and stand behind its different offerings.
“We know everything that’s shipping out is going to be of a certain expectation, if not higher,” he said. “[Digital/dry toner ink] is fairly mature for our purposes, reliable, and definitely something that makes our customers pretty happy.”
When it comes to utilizing special effects like embellishments and fifth color, the panelists agreed there is an advantage to operations like Bennett Graphics being able to showcase tactile opportunities to clients in person. “We do a lot of protoyping and sampling. You can talk about it all day long, but you have to show them the difference,” said Bennett, who also noted using security microprint and texture applications in their label work.
For Chou, the primary advantage with digital toner-based printing is maintaining a speedy 24/7 accessible operation, since Printivity does not have salespeople or typically quote how long products take. “We actually ask our customers, ‘When do you need it?’ he said. “You go online, you quote what you want, and you tell us the day you need it by. We see everything from same day all the way to a few days turnaround. We don’t operate in the weeks or in the months — it’s hours, if not days at the most.
Despite their differing technology mixes, both panelists agreed when it comes to customer satisfaction, it’s ultimately not about the process, but delivering a quality product on time.
“As printers we make the process more important than it is to the client,” said Bennett. “They don’t care if it’s digital or offset, they just want their job right and when they need it and for the budget that they do.”
To view this PRINTING United Digital Experience printer panel discussion, and more than 100 other educational sessions, for free on-demand, visit digital.printingunited.com