Leo Roars in China — Michelson
A MASSIVE complex of buildings encompassing 3.3 million square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. Some 15,000 workers, with nearly 12,000 of them housed in dormitories built right on the 160-acre campus. Meals prepared daily for the entire workforce, with future plans for an organic farm. Two on-site medical clinics with four doctors on duty. Its own fire brigade complete with three fire engines and an ambulance. Five power and three wastewater treatment plants. A company library with 27,000 books, a post office, recreational areas and even a discotheque. Plus, ongoing construction projects for more housing, larger dining facilities and floorspace for increased production capacity.
No, it’s not an RR Donnelley or Quad/Graphics operation on steroids, or an Orwellian glimpse at the graphic arts following massive industry consolidation. Rather, it’s the Leo Paper Group’s Heshan operations in Guangdong, China. Founded in 1982 by Samuel Leung, chairman, Leo Paper started out producing gift bags, but has expanded into sheetfed-only printing of trade books; children’s books, including many printed on board stocks, and some with pop-ups and even with a toy attached; game and activity sets; stationery, address books and calendars; gift items such as greeting cards, keepsakes and giftwraps; as well as display and packaging boxes. All products are exported, including to the United States, where Leo Paper maintains sales offices in New York City and Seattle.
But, before readers chastise me for highlighting a foreign printing operation that competes for a lot of work from American companies, let me explain how I visited China’s fifth largest printer (annual sales: $300 million) in the first place. I was part of an international trade press contingent that was invited last month to tour Komori Corporation’s brand-new Tsukuba Lithrone press manufacturing operations in Japan. As an added bonus, the group made a side trip to China so we could spend a day visiting Leo Paper. With 55 Lithrone sheetfed presses (out of 65 presses total) running during two, 10-hour shifts, Komori wanted to publicize the loyal Chinese customer’s facility. Relying on its large press capacity to turn work quickly—as well as the output from 7,000 pieces of additional support equipment—Leo’s record is nine million impressions printed in just one day. This year’s goal: 12 million.