Mixing Old Values, New Tech: Hatteras Expands into Wide-Format Digital with EFI
The world of printing is one of time-tested values blended generously with an embracement of technology. The tools used have certainly changed dramatically across time and no doubt will continue to do so. But while the turns of the wrench have been slowly transplanted by the pressing of keys, an element of interpersonal relationships will maintain the status quo: People do business with companies that they like and trust.
Bill Duerr fully embodies this dictum. The president of Hatteras, in Tinton Falls, N.J., logged his first hours with the company while scraping paint at 14 years old. Now, at the spry age of 32, Duerr is definitely an old soul, proud of his firm’s reputation for providing quality work, on time and as promised. That reputation was forged through trust and the hard work of Hatteras’ 300-employee team (and it is a team effort, as the company shirts will attest).
Equally as important is Duerr’s role as an advocate for the world of printing. “Everybody needs printing in some way,” he says. “It’s something that everyone has been so immersed in as we’ve all grown up. We don’t realize the fact that print is all around us. When I talk to young people about coming into our industry, they say print is dying. My response to them is that it’s changing, not dying. And, as a company, we have the ability to help our customers understand how they can change the way they communicate with their clients. And I think that’s pretty exciting.”
Setting the Sales Standard
Perhaps no one is prouder of Duerr’s business principles than his father, company founder Charlie Duerr. The elder Duerr has handed the day-to-day reins to his son but still provides invaluable tutelage as a sales coach. Selling to customers, he says, hasn’t changed all that much since the shop first opened its doors in 1983.
“It still comes down to the old-fashioned ‘who do you trust and who can you rely on?’” Charlie Duerr states. “When you have knowledge like Bill and our people have and can share it with the customer, it makes their job and their life a lot easier. Many of our clients don’t have the internal staff that they used to, and that’s where we can help.”
A commercial printer with wide-ranging capabilities, Hatteras provides offset, digital and wide-format printing for direct mail, marketing collateral, point-of-sale signage, branded environments and cross-media marketing campaigns, all of which can be highly personalized. The company predominantly services the pharmaceutical market — churning out items ranging from marketing collateral, sales kits, visual aids and leave behinds — as well as the retail space (automotive, cosmetics, luxury and fashion).
“We’ve grown our product and service offering by understanding the marketplace, recognizing the needs of our clientele and evolving the company to align with those needs,” Bill Duerr remarks. “What’s exciting about that is it’s always going to be changing. As the needs of the marketplace evolve, our goal is to ensure that our service offerings remain relevant — a little better and a little different than the competitors — while staying true to the quality, service and speed to market that we’ve always been able to provide our customers.”
One of the newer tools in the Hatteras belt is superwide-format digital printing. The company recently invested rigorously in this discipline, adding (among other things) the newly introduced 3.2m EFI VUTEk HS125 Pro hybrid flatbed/roll-fed inkjet press. Hatteras had previously obtained a 3.2m EFI VUTEk GS3250LX Pro and a 5m EFI VUTEk GS5500LXr Pro printer with UltraDrop Technology. Both of the latter machines are eight colors, plus white, with LED curing technology. The GS5500 prints up to 204˝ wide roll-to-roll, while the GS3250 can output either roll-to-roll or flat substrates.
The EFI HS125 Pro acquired by Hatteras marks only the second installation of its type in the United States and the seventh worldwide. According to Bill Duerr, Hatteras has largely produced point-of-sale retail signage with its new hardware. The new wide-format printer can handle a wide range of roll-to-roll materials and rigid boards. It incorporates EFI’s UltraFX Technology proprietary in-line print feature, which enhances the visual impact of printed images and reduces the appearance of unwanted visual artifacts.
“With the addition of the HS125, we picked up the ability to deliver a lot more volume at higher speeds,” he says. “The combination of our three EFI presses gives us high-quality, up to 1,000 dpi capabilities, across the board. Now, we have tremendous throughput, volume capabilities and manufacturing flexibility.
“For us, it’s about being able to say ‘yes’ to the same types of customers who we say ‘yes’ to on the offset side and digital sides.”
Substrate versatility is critical for all three EFI wide-format models, according to Bill Duerr. LED curing allows the printer to print on a wide range of substrates, giving Hatteras the ability to offer more solutions to their clients. Hatteras has leveraged this flexibility, providing a savings of up to 30% off traditional manufacturing costs in some instances.
Right Tools for the Job
From polycarbonates to Tyvek, the dossier of out-of-the-ordinary printed materials is fairly wide-ranging. “The possibilities are endless with this technology,” Bill Duerr says. “It’s a matter of educating customers about the capabilities and helping them find the right solution that works within their time frames and budgets.”
Speaking of digital printing, Hatteras has also forged a strong relationship with HP Indigo. The printer installed a seven-color, 13x19˝ Indigo 7600 digital press roughly three years ago, then upped the ante in the past 18 months by acquiring a pair of B2-format, seven-color HP Indigo 10000s with white ink capabilities. Volume on the 10000s has been highly robust, and the printing quality rivals that of offset (Hatteras is an all-Heidelberg shop with up to 40˝, six-color sheetfed offset perfecting plus coating capabilities).
The combination of HP Indigo digital presses provide Hatteras with an advantage for high volume print-on-demand programs and variable data printing, according to Bill Duerr, especially coupled with their 29.5x20.8˝ format and wealth of substrate options. “You can really create some powerful pieces of communication using the HP Indigo platform,” he notes.
“We feel that it’s an exciting time to be in digital printing. Marketers can take the same data that they’re leveraging and use it in an off-line printed piece of communication. The HP Indigos allow us to do it in a unique format with great quality and volume.”
Hatteras didn’t shoot its entire allowance on output devices. The company invested heavily in creating a dedicated bindery department, including a Zünd digital diecutter for short-run work, a hybrid Harris & Bruno ExcelCoat aqueous UV coating system, a Standard Horizon StitchLiner 5500 with 30-station collator and camera recognition software, and a Standard Horizon creaser/folder and SmartSlitter. The equipment is geared with 2D barcode capabilities, which enables it to read and program variable finishing instructions.
“On the digital side, we’re seeing a lot of technology-driven workflow on the back end to help support what’s going on at the front end,” Bill Duerr remarks. “From an operational standpoint, we’ve become more efficient because our operators are able to rely on technology now available to help them streamline the process.”
The upshot of Hatteras’ aggressive capex initiative can be found in the financial ledger; the company has enjoyed year-over-year growth for the past seven campaigns. The younger Duerr also credits his father for creating a sales-driven, customer-focused atmosphere, all while bringing a passion and aggressiveness that permeates the entire sales team.
Opportunity Breeds Opportunity
Customer service, too, has been the lynchpin that enables Hatteras to build trust with its client base. With that trust, Bill Duerr notes, comes more responsibilities and more opportunities to sell deeper within existing accounts.
Moving forward, Bill Duerr emphasizes the importance of continuing to modernize his plant’s manufacturing workflow, while ensuring that employees view the technology as an opportunity rather than a threat. In continuing to foster the high-energy sales pace set by his father, in tandem with a team concept toward manufacturing, Hatteras is well on its way toward eight years of consecutive growth … and beyond.
“The printer is the last line of defense — the last one who touches the job before the consumer,” he adds. “So oftentimes, we’re put in an adverse situation where we have a tall task to execute in a very tight timeline, and we can’t sacrifice quality in the process. Our team really comes together and thrives in that type of situation.” PI