Package Printing — Packing It In
One of the ways the market has come toward Salem, its general manager says, is because companies are segmenting their packaging runs more. "They may still do 1 million pieces, but they'll print different designs," he explains. "They're producing lots of 100,000 each with different designs."
Packaging is by far the fast growing segment of Salem's business. It primarily produces what he calls "light packaging," which involves printing up to 24-pt. board stock, then diecutting and in-line folding/gluing the sheets. The shop's commercial work runs the gamut, from booklets and brochures to posters and POP/POS materials.
"Over the past year we have been able to go out and sell as a packaging printer only," Kelley says. "We have no intention of going from being a commercial shop to all packaging. We don't want to have to depend just on packaging work, and definitely don't want to end up competing with the full-size printers."
Kelley agrees with the assertion that a commercial printer will have a lot to learn to compete in the packaging market. He says Salem opted to train is existing staff—sales and production—to handle both applications, rather than hiring or developing specialists.
Production is laid out in two wings, the general manager notes. Packaging work flows from press down one aisle, while commercial jobs go down another aisle, he explains. Starting with the MAN Rolands, the shop's plan has been to have presses well suited to produce both applications.
"As we gain ability to run thicker and thicker board stock, we don't want to lose any ability to print thinner, standard sheets," Kelley says. "We're already looking to our next press purchase, which will probably happen by the end of this year. We want to go beyond handling 24-pt. board, probably up to 40-pt., but still not give up the ability to do commercial printing."