FCL Graphics Stays Anchored, Expands in the Windy City
Nestled between O'Hare International Airport and Chicago in Harwood Heights, IL, FCL Graphics has been pumping out printed products for more than 40 years—and at the same address, no less (although it has expanded).
Even amidst an uncertain future for print, the company's roots have remained firm. But its success has been centered around its ability to bend and grow with the market. These days, it's almost essential that a printer offer a menu of ancillary services in order to thrive. FCL does just that.
In addition to its commercial printing business, the company features a full-service bindery, direct mail planning, warehousing, distribution, data storage and analytics, and a host of other value-added services. "But our core business is still to provide high-quality printed products," assures Steve Flood, president and CEO, who joined FCL from Vertis Direct Marketing in 2012.
Founded in 1973 by Frank Calabrese, FCL Graphics (named for Frank, Carmen and Lewis, Calabrese's sons) began as a broker and then matured into a printing operation. Early on, it offered one- and two-color sheetfed offset printing. As business grew, FCL added four- and six-color sheetfed gear, migrating to a half-web press to keep up with growing direct mail volume. After securing a core group of financial clients, it became apparent it needed full-web press capabilities and the company has continued to blossom.
The company now employs more than 145 printing professionals, who have an average tenure of 18 years.
Today, FCL Graphics' 125,000-square-foot facility is a one-stop shop for retailers, manufacturers and nonprofits. Its Integrated Media Solutions group offers cross-media consultation and marketing strategies, from as early on as inception. Postproduction services include binding and finishing. And FCL Graphics is a full-service mailer, to boot.
"Typically, with a sophisticated marketing services offering, we like to get involved very early on," explains Flood. "It could be that we assist with the frequency and cadence—should it be direct mail? Electronic communication? We also offer data analytics and strategy, and we usually get involved in mail planning and execution."
The company possesses Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) and co-palletization certification, saving its customers money by taking advantage of mail volume discounts. In addition, it offers the USPS' Every Door Direct Mail service, which eliminates the need to buy address lists. "You only need to know the ZIP code for the area you want to reach," explains Flood, "and we can get the counts of deliverable addresses in each ZIP code."
In 2012, FCL Graphics purchased a Heidelberg stitching line. "Supporting our customers' postpress production needs is extremely important," emphasizes Flood. The new equipment helps FCL Graphics meet customer turnaround and quality expectations for bound products, such as small-size instruction books or high-volume financial business booklets.
In 2013, the company added a Xerox iGen4 color digital press equipped with a long sheet option. "We've had a great response to this addition and have seen an enormous amount of personalized direct mail work as a result," he says.
Since then, FCL Graphics has also added an MCS inkjet printing system, additional saddlestitch lines and two new 45˝ Saber cutters. And, come summer, it plans to purchase intelligent inserting and camera matching technology.
Every purchasing decision is made with the customer in mind. "The printing industry continues to evolve," explains Flood. "So, the need to adapt services to meet customer expectations will always require adding new functionality."
It may be the age of the Internet, but FCL Graphics believes print is still a powerful component of any marketing strategy. "We don't think it's necessary to totally reinvent the business," he says. "Augmenting our current capabilities will help us maintain existing customers, and expand into new areas and revenue streams." Because print remains a viable business, he says, it's better to build on FCL Graphics' core strengths.
FCL Graphics is also one of the only printers that is G7 compliant across all types of printing, from full-web offset to digital. "We saw G7 Master Qualification as an opportunity to provide our customers with the ease of use and color consistency they need, no matter what platform they choose," Flood explains.
He believes that clients opt for FCL Graphics because of its solid reputation, but a key differentiator has also been its ability to grow alongside a mature industry. Not even the windiest of cities, it appears, can knock this business down. PI