Printing Impressions 350 Fast-Track Company Hera Printing is 'Always on the Verge of New Technology'
Topping the annual honor roll of the Printing Impressions 350 are its “Fast Track” companies: a sampling of those with significantly higher rates of year-over-year revenue growth than other listees. We profiled six outstanding performers.
It’s important to remember that the year-over-year sales figures reported by PI 350 companies are for the most recently completed fiscal year, and the one immediately preceding it. This means that in 2020 — for the majority of the companies that report calendar fiscal years — we are presenting 2019 versus 2018 comparisons that do not reflect the economic impact of COVID-19 on the industry, although nearly every listee experienced its effects at some point during the year.
However, we believe that the 2020 PI 350 remains an accurate index of the business strength and structural diversity that the printing industry will continue to display once the pandemic is finally behind it. As we hope profiles like the one below show, the attributes that put printing companies on the fast track are constants in the industry. They’re available at all times for other companies to emulate and, by sharing these stories of excellence, that’s precisely what we’re encouraging everyone who reads them to do.
Our congratulations to 2020’s Printing Impressions 350 Fast-Track firms, and our best wishes to all printing companies who made the most of a tough year.
Hera Printing, Santurce, P.R.
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $11 Million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $6.5 Million
Percentage Growth: 69%
When Luis Garcia, an entrepreneur and a lover of Greek mythology, opened his first business, a magazine stand inside a post office, he called it Zeus. He named his next venture Hera Office Supply in honor of the wife of Zeus and the Queen of Mount Olympus.
That was in 1978 and, today, the gods continue to smile upon the printing business that Hera Office Supply eventually became. Now directed by Luis’ son, Ricardo L. Garcia, Hera Printing is one of Puerto Rico’s best equipped and most multi-capable print service providers. Growing both organically and by acquisition, the company is, as Ricardo Garcia says, “always on the verge of new technology” that will enable it to offer more options to its customers.
In its pursuit of new solutions, Hera Printing became the first printing business in Latin America to adopt high-end finishing equipment from Highcon, in the form of a Highcon Euclid digital cutting and creasing system; and from Scodix, which provided a Scodix Ultra Pro digital enhancement press with foiling. The company also operates a pair of HP Indigo liquid-toner presses; digital wide-format devices from EFI VUTEk and Mimaki; conventional foil stamping and embossing units from Kluge; as well as Heidelberg offset presses and postpress equipment.
Because they know Hera Printing has these capabilities, Garcia points out, other printers and brokers come to it for help with work they aren’t equipped to handle. Diversifying the technology mix has also broadened the customer base, as the expansion into wide-format output demonstrates.
Adding wide-format “gave us a big boost,” Garcia says. “Most of our clients were doing wide-format; they just weren’t doing it with us.” The technology also proved to be a boon during a weeks-long lockdown of the island in response to COVID-19. Remaining in operation as an essential business, Hera Printing used its wide-format equipment to produce barriers, signage, stickers, and other items aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
The company’s customer base, located entirely in Puerto Rico, includes banks, health care providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and creative agencies. Garcia says Hera Printing also pays special attention to small businesses and start-ups, which it tries to work with as a sympathetic “silent partner” while they grow.
“We can offer people alternatives to have a great product at a very moderate price,” he says. In the case of a start-up, this might mean offering an initial price designed to “keep them in budget” for now, and adjusting the billing later when the customer’s finances are stronger.
In this way, Garcia notes, “they grow with us.” The relationships deepen when customers know their printer is always prepared to tell them, “we’ve got it, we’ll make it happen, and you can concentrate on the parts of your business that need most of your attention.”
One school of thought in the printing industry holds that customers are process-agnostic and therefore don’t care how their work gets printed. Garcia disagrees. “We want the client to understand the complexities of the process,” he insists. Because the market for print has changed, the experience of buying print should be “personalized for you,” not just a generic transaction with a disinterested provider.
Another path to growth for Hera Printing lay in its acquisition of an office products supplier two years ago that now does business as Hera Envelopes & Forms. This branch of the company, managed by Luis Garcia and another son, Miguel Garcia, produces regular streams of work out of a 50,000-sq.-ft. plant that is separate from the commercial operation, which is housed in 36,000 sq. ft. of its own.
Keeping Them Safe
All told, the Hera group employs 100 people. At the plants, Ricardo Garcia says, all the necessary protocols are in place to safeguard the workforce against COVID-19: mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks, staggered lunch breaks, protective barriers, and restrictions on visits by customers.
Garcia notes that the pandemic has created an uptick in the mailings the company produces for the commonwealth’s department of unemployment. Banking clients are also stepping up their use of direct mail to keep customers advised about pandemic-related matters, such as deferred mortgage payments. Garcia thinks that this extra business, combined with a general boost to Puerto Rico’s economy from an anticipated influx of federal aid, will keep Hera Printing growing even in a year overshadowed by COVID-19.
Whatever fate Mount Olympus may have in store for it, the company that Luis Garcia named for a goddess will continue to rely on world-class production services and uncompromising customer service to keep its forward momentum strong. As Ricardo Garcia sums it up, “at Hera Printing, we don’t just do any kind of printing. We only do quality printing.”