For the Pioneer Group in Big Rapids, MI, the Need for Web is Far From Dead
While many newspaper groups have shut their presses down, reduced publishing days or moved online entirely, the Pioneer Group did the exact opposite—investing in the power of print.
Father and son owners Jack and John Batdorff not only believe that the future of hyper local newspapers is bright, but that there is still an important need for web offset printing, as well.
Headquartered in Big Rapids, MI, the Pioneer Group was established more than 150 years ago as a newspaper company. Throughout the years, products were acquired to grow its newspaper holdings and, later, telephone directories were added to its product mix in the 1980s.
On the printing side, the company was one of the first in the Midwest to shift to offset printing when a Harris Cottrell V-15A was acquired in the 1960s. But, in 2000, with increasing page, color and speed demands, the Batdorffs decided to buy a new press and build a centralized printing and distribution facility to house it. With the increased capacity, a commercial printing operation was born.
John Batdorff, the company's president and CEO, represents the fourth generation of the Batdorff family ownership. His father, Jack, is chairman of the board and still has a guiding presence within the organization. One can often find him sitting in his office in the company's headquarters, getting involved in community affairs or strolling through the newsroom talking with staff.
Automation Drives Productivity
When looking for a new press, the Batdorffs decided it was time to position themselves as a leader within the web printing industry. They began plans to build a new, 17,000-square-foot printing facility that, a year later, would be the home to the company's new 14-unit Heidelberg Mercury press. The press features automatic roll splicers and two folders, so it can run two jobs simultaneously.