Packaged Just Right to Enter New Markets and Applications
Despite thousands of doors closing at many retailer locations in the past year — Toys “R” Us, Payless ShoeSource, Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Gymboree and JCPenney, among others — retail is far from dead. People need and want goods, and packaging matters when customers make decisions on what to purchase, even when perusing an online retail store.
In response to the steady market demand for printed packaging, commercial printer McCarty Printing decided to invest in expanding its packaging capabilities and marketing new applications by purchasing a new Heidelberg five-color Speedmaster CX 75-5+L sheetfed offset press equipped with UV to complement the Easymatrix 106 CS diecutter it installed in April 2018.
“There is a ton of opportunity in the packaging space,” Brandon Sieber, president of McCarty Printing, says. “I mean, walk into a grocery store or a Lowe’s and look around — everything’s printed and most of it’s printed with some sort of packaging application. It’s clearly not going away. Some other [print-based] revenue streams may decrease, go away or move to digital, but packaging is something that you can’t be without.”
Serving regional and national clients out of Erie, Pa., since 1916, the commercial printer produces high-quality catalogs, brochures, flyers, stationery and advertising promotions. On the label side, McCarty produces stickers and pressure-sensitive tapes and labels for bottles, boxes and cans, as well as identification and ingredient labels.
“First and foremost, we are a commercial printer,” Sieber notes. “We’re not leaving the backbone of being a commercial printing operation, but we’re just looking to do more and find new revenue streams.”
McCarty Printing, which employs about 70 employees, certainly isn’t new to the packaging business, but Sieber and his management team made the decision to broaden McCarty’s range of printing and diecutting capabilities with hopes to do more business and product applications in this area.
Equipment Geared for Chosen Expansion
Printing at speeds up to 15,000 sph, the half-size Speedmaster CX 75 can process substrates ranging from lightweight paper to rigid cardboard because of the double-diameter impression cylinders on the press. Similarly, with the ability to process boards as thick as 78 pt. in up to a 29.4x41.7˝ format at speeds up to 7,700 sph, the Easymatrix 106 CS increased the company’s diecutting production output significantly.
McCarty Printing has typically always been a Heidelberg shop. According to Sieber, the company spent a lot of time weighing various options but chose the Speedmaster CX 75 for a variety of reasons, including their existing relationship with Heidelberg. “They’re dependable, we know what we’re getting, we know the salesman, we know what works and the quality.”
Driving the Speedmaster CX 75 is Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow, which integrates the pre-settings from the prepress stage to the feeder and delivery. The company previously used Prinect for its workflow, but plans to utilize even more features with the installation of the Speedmaster CX 75.
The UV capabilities on the press will allow the company to deliver special effects on a variety of substrates, including paper, plastic or foils. “UV printing is completely new to us, but we are really excited to get started with it,” Sieber adds. “Looking at the trends in the industry, we know that UV is the future and we’re excited to be able to offer that to our customers.”
Prepping the Press Crew for the Install
The new Speedmaster model is scheduled to be installed early this month, but the excitement around the shop has been building for a while. “I didn’t realize how much went into it,” he admits. “I’ve never been through the process of buying a printing press and it’s an eye-opener. I’ve already been losing a lot of sleep.”
Once installed, Sieber says the company will be doing quite a bit of training and cross-training on the new machine. Fortunately for McCarty, its pressmen are already pretty familiar with operating Heidelberg presses.
“We know it’s going to be a steep learning curve, but we don’t think it’s going to be earth-shattering,” he explains.
For the past few months, management has been handing out materials for the press crew to look over, including literature about the press, how the control console works, and UV inks and curing. Heidelberg will also provide a couple of weeks of training.
“We’re definitely going to be utilizing the training and are looking forward to that,” Sieber points out. “And, if needed, we’ll have them come back to provide us with additional training.”
In terms of training the McCarty Printing sales staff, Sieber says they will be re-educating sales reps about UV inks versus traditional inks and not only what it can do, but why the costs are different for some applications and the justification as to why.
McCarty is going to take the slow and steady sales approach. “Don’t over-promise right away,” Sieber says. “Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you say you can do it, or make sure you know what you’re doing before you sell it. Just because, if you say you can do something and then fail, most customers will not use you again.”
Down the road, Sieber says the company plans to host a series of open houses for local customers to show off the Speedmaster CX 75 and the company’s new application capabilities. “But not too soon,” he notes. “Much later, when everyone’s comfortable on the production and sales side of our business.”