JOE FONTANA and Brendan Connors know a thing or two about transforming a print communications company into a completely sustainable platform from the inside out. In 1994, the co-owners of MOSAIC made the decision to stray away from traditional lithography, by adopting waterless printing—a process that eliminates many harmful chemicals used in conventional offset printing.
"We chose waterless printing because we wanted to lessen our environmental impact—the waterless process reduces our paper and water usage, overall waste and VOC emissions," explains Connors. "It also enables us to print richer and more vibrant colors, since many of our customers' designs continually challenge the color spectrum."
What sprung forth since MOSAIC's switch to waterless printing were a series of environmental initiatives. For example, the company switched to VOC-free, soy-based inks, and now uses a solvent recovery system that dramatically reduces the need to dispose of solvents. In addition, MOSAIC recycles more than 1,200 tons of paper, plastic and aluminum annually.
In 2005, the Cheverly, MD-based operation was one of the first printers in the Mid-Atlantic region to become FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and, in 2007, became carbon neutral through 100 percent wind power with the purchase of more than 3,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity from wind farms in Western Pennsylvania.
In early 2009, MOSAIC attained G7 Master Printer certification. "The timing of becoming G7 certified was perfect because we have several national accounts that demand consistency, and being G7 certified allows us to ensure color integrity when matching printed materials from other vendors," reports Joel Zelepsky, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
A Timely Honor
On Earth Day in 2008, MOSAIC became an EPA Climate Leaders Program Partner, illustrating the printer's long-term goal of reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions. "The program is one of the most stringent commitments a company can make," explains Connors. "For the period of 2008 through 2015, MOSAIC has committed to net zero GHG emissions while reducing its GHC emissions by five percent per internally produced sales dollars."
In addition to waterless printing, MOSAIC also offers traditional offset, UV and digital printing to the four vertical markets it serves: creative agencies/designers, corporations, as well as the membership market (associations and trade unions) and government. This entails national direct mail printing and distribution services; training and educational curriculum services; point-of-sale; lenticular; packaging; books and manuals; cross-media campaigns; multimedia program development; Website development and hosting; and custom programming.
For smaller based offset and digital copying jobs, the company relies on its MOSAIC Express small offset print outlet in downtown Washington, DC. Since acquiring the company, the shop has grown to a staff of 13 employees, and offers full collating, direct mail, variable data and DVD duplication services, in addition to small-format offset and DocuTech output capabilities.
MOSAIC also employs a full-time staff of programmers and developers at its 70,000-square-foot headquarters facility to customize Web-based programs for its clients' specific needs. Customers can use MOSAIC's M-Power Web-to-print system to place orders, as well as access their jobs and files 24/7 via Cypress, an online digital asset management interface.
"For years, we have been developing custom programs for our clients," Fontana explains. "Some of our clients not only want their platform to look a certain way, but also need it to integrate into their systems."
To further bolster its sustainable practices, early last year the company installed the first five-color, 29˝ KBA Rapida 75 sheetfed press in North America with aqueous coater, densitronic full scanning densitometer and color control system, as well as special cooling for waterless printing. Like the 28˝ KBA Karat it replaced, this new press has a similar environmental impact by using less water, paper, and printing with zero VOC-based inks. According to Zelepsky, the Rapida 75 was the perfect short-run press to complement MOSAIC's larger 40˝ presses.
In the last several years, the company also invested in a six-color, 41˝ KBA Rapida 105 interdeck UV waterless press; a JDF-based Polar cutting system; and Metrix for automated imposition and layout.
In addition to the two KBA presses, MOSAIC's pressroom comprises two Heidelbergs: a six-color, 40˝ Speedmaster CD waterless press with in-line aqueous coater; and a six-color, 40˝ Speedmaster perfecting waterless press with in-line aqueous coater. On the digital end, the company operates two six-color HP Indigo 5500 digital presses. In addition, MOSAIC maintains an in-house bindery, a mailing department, and has more than 20,000 square feet of fulfillment and warehousing space.
The company was founded in 1948 as Fontana Lithograph. The Fontana brothers operated out of the back of their family owned dry cleaning business, and later moved into another facility to take printing on full-time. Connors' father bought into the firm in the 1970s and the company became Fontana Lithograph/Affiliated Graphics. As the sons of Fontana and Connors transitioned into managing and taking the company into new directions, they also rebranded the company name to MOSAIC.
The company reported $38 million in sales for 2008. Last year, the 158-employee operation was also awarded the Printing Industries of America's "Best Workplace in the Americas" award for seven years in a row, and the "Best of the Best" award for four years running.
One problem that both owners feel the industry faces today is the public misconception that the printing industry is to blame for deforestation. What is often overlooked, points out Fontana, is that trees are a renewable resource. Because of reforestation efforts, the total forest area in the United States has been relatively stable for the last 100 years.
Moving forward, MOSAIC will continue to focus on growing its point-of-purchase, packaging, UV and lenticular printing businesses, and will also explore social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and how those platforms can be integrated into customers' existing marketing programs.
Connors and Fontana are also keeping a keen eye on ink-jet printing developments, as well as potential acquisition opportunities.
"We're always looking at ways we can stay ahead of the curve by exploring new technologies and finding new growth markets," concludes Connors. "We are a company that invests in the future. When guests walk through our facility, they can readily see that." PI