Editor’s Notebook: Pieces That Solve Perplexing Puzzles
Several feature articles in the June issue illustrate ongoing hurdles—and discuss subsequent solutions—facing many printing companies today. Take our cover story on Kirkwood Printing, which has grown into a $72 million performer since being acquired a decade ago by three veteran salespeople who had worked at Acme Printing, a New England establishment once revered throughout the industry for its high-end reproduction capabilities.
The partners at Kirkwood have patterned a successful blueprint to grow their business during the past 10 years. They’ve supplemented their existing offset capabilities and client bases by acquiring companies to help expand into new, value-added services and markets, as well as by investing aggressively to buy new digital and wide-format digital printing gear.
As printers continue to supplement their lithographic footprints with digital printing alternatives, another article talks about the crossover points some printers use when deciding which output devices are best suited for which run lengths. Offset/digital printing tipping points vary from shop to shop, and may even require hybrid solutions for reprint work and complex jobs that have multiple components.
The ability to color match digital and offset printed output, which may incorporate various paper stocks and client brand colors, also requires sound color management. Check out “Staying Fit with Color.” Based on survey results in an ongoing partnership between Printing Impressions and InfoTrends, it identifies the top challenges printers face in implementing color management best practices.
Not surprisingly, the problem typically comes down to people within a printer’s organization who have not been properly trained, or who lack the skill sets and formal procedures to ensure consistent color output and color matching. And, despite ongoing efforts by offset and digital press manufacturers to integrate spectrophotometers and cameras into their newest offerings to help automate color calibration, consistency and correction, it will be several years before all of the legacy equipment that lacks these helpful tools is removed from active service.
Unfortunately, time is not on our side. According to “Our Changing Workforce,” finding skilled operators and technicians will become even harder as veteran production workers retire. With a shortage of young people entering the industry and a lack of formal training programs, that may prove to be the most perplexing problem of all.