HBP Inc. — Bundling Communications Solutions
“SELLING STRICTLY commercial printing has become a commodity sale,” acknowledges John Snyder, president of HBP Inc. Looking over the low rolling hills of Hagerstown, MD, Snyder leans back in the chair and adds, “Value-added services need to be offered so our salespeople can provide more solutions for solving our customers’ marketing problems.” From the look in his eyes, it is apparent that this man means business, and his business is thriving.
A positive customer relationship is critical for survival in today’s economy. Rising costs, technological advances and cost-conscious customers have made it necessary for many printing operations to diversify into non-traditional revenue arenas to satisfy the ever-evolving communication needs of clients, while remaining profitable. Opportunities for expansion exist as long as today’s printer can think strategically and embrace new ideas and technology.
HBP’s emphasis is on providing additional value-added services—such as digital printing, graphic and Web design, advertising specialties, software development, and mailing and fulfillment—are all opportunities that meet client demand and cultivate long-term relationships.
Hagerstown Bookbinding and Printing was founded in 1903. Snyder’s father, originally the owner of a newspaper printing company in West Virginia, purchased HBP in the early 1960s and merged both operations into the Hagerstown facility. Today, HBP is a full- service communications company with more than 70 percent of its operations devoted to offset and digital printing.
The prepress department includes scanning, digital proofing and computer-to-plate technology with a Kodak PDF-based Prinergy workflow system. Armed with an array of sheetfed presses, the pressroom is comprised of 40˝ Heidelberg Speedmaster perfectors, two four-colors and one six-color. A six-color, 28˝ Komori completes the company’s pressroom iron.
In the bindery, there are two saddlestitchers, with up to six-pocket feeding capability, and an 18-pocket perfect binder. Snyder plans to install a fully automated, JDF-compatible Heidelberg ST450 stitcher with eight pockets plus cover feeder this December.
Dedicated to Digital
HBP’s digital printing department includes three Xerox DocuTech 6180s with a Digipath PDF-based workflow and a Kodak Nexpress 2100 digital color press. Its digital capabilities compliment Snyder’s aggressive entry into variable data printing. The company’s mailing department has three ink-jet devices for addressing and three inserters for mailing and kitting.
Fulfillment operations are conducted in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse. A vigorous mailing and shipping program also helps ensure prompt delivery.
Company leadership is driven to strategically position the company for sustainable long-term growth and profitability. Composed of team leader Snyder; Robert Tapp, vice president of sales; Tim Connors, vice president of manufacturing; Jim Hill, chief technology officer; and Lee Draper, CFO, the management team shares longevity and a common vision. HBP’s 14-member sales force operates from two sales offices: one in the main Hagerstown facility and the other in Alexandria, VA.
Customers Come First
By answering all of the communication needs of their clients, the HBP team generates loyalty and customer satisfaction.
According to Snyder, the goal of offering this breadth of services is quite simple. “We want to make it difficult for clients to leave. We want them to stay not only because of the value they derive from our services, but because they enjoy working with our people.”
The HBP Internet department features a staff of five programmers offering a wide variety of programming and software development services. From graphic design to Web development, HBP offers customers the tools and expertise to become active e-commerce participants. Currently, its servers are hosting more than 70 Websites and handling secure credit transactions for 15 online stores.
HBP’s digital services capabilities are also driving business into the digital printing and fulfillment areas as the need for preprinted products, promotional products and print-on-demand increases. A major portion of the company’s digital printing is driven by Web-based, print-on-demand services.
The upgrade and expansion of the fulfillment area has allowed the firm to increase the speed-to-market of many of its customers’ products. Automated shipping and inventory management tools allow clients to better manage their forms and direct mail materials. The company has also amplified its promotional products services to include on-demand ordering and customization of hundreds of items.
According to Snyder, acquisitions are another avenue of company growth. In the early ’90s, HBP purchased Oak Printing, a small operation that functions autonomously from within the Hagerstown facility. Supplying everything from business cards and letterhead to sales brochures and office forms, Oak fills client demand by performing short-run jobs with rapid turnaround.
Charter Printing Services, in Alexandria, VA, was purchased by HBP last year. According to Snyder, this acquisition was not only positive for company growth, but provided lessons for future acquisitions. Thanks to the assistance of the previous owners, the transition process allowed operations to continue seamlessly, while gradually introducing HBP’s array of value-added services to Charter’s existing customer base. HBP also retained the former Charter Printing sales staff—their knowledge of the Washington, DC, printing market has been invaluable.
The company’s business model seems to be working. Sales have jumped from $12 million in 2003 to $18 million in 2005. Though Snyder credits a portion of the increase to the acquisition of Charter, there is no denying that value-added services have achieved the elusive customer lock-in. Bundling communications solutions from design to fulfillment leads to customer satisfaction and loyalty—the true measurement of HBP’s success. PI