Ripon Printers: A Midwestern Delight
In addition to offering saddlestitching and perfect binding, Ripon offers spiral binding, inkjetting, co-mailing and fulfillment services. Much of its work is business-to-business, with some business-to-consumer, according to Jeff Hopp, sales and marketing manager.
Printed Catalogs Still Needed
While competing in the catalog and directory space does pose the risk of lost share to electronic alternatives, Hopp points out that most customers—even those who briefly flirted with online-only marketing—appreciate the value offered by hard-copy catalogs.
"We weathered that storm for about two years, and most of our clients realized that they still needed to mail physical catalogs to drive customers to their Websites," he says. "Print runs are down, as are page counts, but versioning has increased."
Deba Horn-Prochno, Ripon's quality/resource director, notes that one of the keys to avoiding digital erosion is making it easier for clients to stick with Ripon. "Customization is increasing and we're offering our own digital editions," she says. "We're fulfilling a need for them and keeping it in-house at the same time."
Darnick adds that an emphasis on auxiliary services has helped Ripon Printers combat the low-price mentality that is prevalent in the market. The company has made inroads with creating mobile apps for clients, as well.
Customer "delight" and education have become significant forces in the way Ripon Printers has conducted business in the past 10 years. Hopp points out that the "delight" factor filters down from Lyke and is embraced across the 290-employee network.
The fact that employees have embraced the customer-focused approach has made for a point of differentiation. "(Competitors) can certainly buy presses like ours," Hopp states, "but they can't hire employees like ours."
Ripon Printers has also taken an aggressive approach toward educating customers. Its prepress department has dedicated staff members who provide customer guidance on proper job files and the company hosts four Webinars a year on various relevant topics. A twice-monthly e-mail blast keeps clients abreast on topics impacting their work, from market trends to ongoing postal updates.