Crossing the Line
By offering such services, Fayetteville is unconventional in its approach to commercial printing. As a traditional newspaper publisher, it has crossed that invisible line in the dirt. In the past, printers produced either commercial products or newspapers, but usually didn't capitalize on their capabilities to provide both. However, newspaper publishers like the Fayetteville Observer-Times and the Columbus Dispatch have become profitable by straddling the line.
As more companies take on this dual role, serving as newspaper publishers/commercial printers, presses keep busy. For example, Chavonne says his web presses were running about five hours a day printing the daily edition of the Observer-Times. He claims commercial work has increased run times to about 12 hours per day.
While Newsprint Manager Bruce Merriman won't disclose exact capacity information, he does say the Columbus Dispatch has seen significant growth in its commercial line.
"Commercial printing is something we felt we needed to do," he notes. "We got into it to continue being a force in the community."
The 127-year-old, privately owned newspaper started printing commercial products in 1996 when it relocated to a new facility and had the room to grow. Grow is exactly what it did.
The company currently produces This Week, a community newspaper and shopping guide (circulation 280,000); a biweekly 40-page, four-color real estate section (circulation 400,000); Sunday comics (circulation 400,000); advertisements; ad inserts; and other miscellaneous jobs, such as in-store circulars, whenever available.
"Babystepping," as Merriman calls it, the company started taking one commercial job at a time. It slowly increased the volume of its commercial work as the production staff gained more experience and confidence.
"There are always problems when you try something new," contends Merriman. "Preparing for the run, getting the presses ready to roll, learning how to lay the work out, how to package it.