It all began as a material movement project. We were handling the printed coupons in our facility eight to 10 times going from staging area to warehouse to collation--and we were printing in large runs, but had products sitting around on pallets. The great thing about the new process is that we will not touch the printed coupon in-house--the first time it's ever touched is by the consumer at their mailbox. So we've gained great efficiencies in moving product around our facility and now it is produced in one continuous throughput.
Q. How has the transition to new equipment and new processes impacted your total employment count?
Our new facility essentially doubles the capacity we had at the two old plants and can be produced with a manufacturing workforce of about 500.
Q. With GRAPH EXPO in Chicago later this month, and PRINT on tap for next September, it's timely to ask what role these shows played in the past in the development of the VMC--and what role they will play in its future?
We absolutely utilized the show for a lot of our early 'intelligence' work. This project began during the summer of 2002 when three of us at Valpak were pulled from our 'day jobs' to consider how we could manufacture our products differently. One of the first things we did was travel the tradeshow and conference circuit. We attended GRAPH EXPO later that year as well as other events (we went to Chicago a lot, mostly in the winter!), as we tried to get a feeling for what technologies were out there. After meeting many of the equipment manufacturers, we visited those who were using the equipment to find out what worked well and what didn't. We knew early on that we needed to identify good partners with whom we could develop solid relationships and ended up selecting our partners from among the companies and contacts we made during our fact-finding phase.