Industry consolidation, economic uncertainties, soaring costs for raw materials and energy and many other forces are changing our industry at the speed of thought. At NPES' 75th Annual Conference, November 15-17 in St. Pete Beach, FL, participants will have an opportunity to learn firsthand how one progressive print organization managed to overcome these challenges. Read on for this preview of how, by developing strategic partnerships with industry manufacturers and service providers, the Valpak Manufacturing Center in St. Petersburg, FL has become a showcase of automated print production--and has managed to hold the line on costs for its customers, increased its productivity and morphed its employees into a skilled workforce for tomorrow. Valpak is one of North America's leading direct marketers with $260 million in annual revenue and about 1,200 employees in Pinellas County. Valpak reaches more than 45 million unique addresses each month in the United States and Canada and is owned by Largo-based Cox Target Media. Q. What factors were involved in choosing St. Petersburg, FL as the location for your facility?
We studied a number of locations, but in the end, our biggest driver was that we wanted to stay near our existing production facility in Largo, FL to preserve as much of that workforce as possible. We also wanted to be near our corporate headquarters in Largo so we could be close to hundreds of employees who work in support positions such as graphics, customer service, marketing and franchise operations. After all, we were founded here (in Clearwater in 1968) and have a long history here in this community. We are celebrating our 40th year in business this year. Plus, our employment base in this area is pretty strong and a good place to find the type of workforce we needed.
Q. What's been the biggest obstacle in putting into service new equipment and processes?