Buying New Equipment to Maximize Capabilities and Return On Investment
Purchasing new equipment can be daunting. Where do you even start? How much do you want to spend? What are you trying to accomplish? How do you know you’re getting a good deal, or that you’ll get your return on investment? These are all things that responsible business owners think about before making the decision to invest in new technology for their print businesses. Thankfully, we at Print+Promo had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Rouse, president and CEO of Team Concept Printing, Carol Stream, Ill.; and Wes Maughan, president of Pointil Systems, Portland, Ore., about products they’ve invested in that have made profound impacts on their companies’ capabilities and profitability, and what companies can do to make smart purchasing decisions of their own.
What They’re Buying
Team Concept Printing recently invested about $1.7 million into new equipment, including a Komori UV press and a Canon Arizona flatbed UV printer, which Rouse said has helped the company dig deeper into large-format printing and signage. According to Rouse, evolving customer demands steered the path to purchase.
“Much of the print work we do [involves] digital offset and small offset. ... We would get a lot of requests of ‘Hey, we need all of this stuff done, but we also need to get some banners, we also need to get some signage that hangs in the store or window graphics or things like that,’” he said. “After years and years of getting those requests, we thought, ‘Look, we have to get into this.’ So we decided to get into it big time. We bought the best equipment out there, and that’s the Canon machine. We also bought a couple HP wide-format printers. That helps with banners and things of that nature.”
The final piece of the company’s investment in large-format printing was a Zund cutter. “That thing can cut glass, metal and plastic,” he said. “It’s not really a router, but you can imagine what a router looks like when it goes around the wood and stuff, so it’s like that, but it does paper. And it can cut glass and metal, and things like that.”
This has allowed the supplier to create items like cardboard stand-ups for grocery stores and point-of-purchase displays. Rouse said that after using it for a bit, he sees it as an absolute “must-have” for his company.
He added that having a variety of equipment opens Team Concept Printing up to more opportunities with customers who might want products printed by specific machines.
“It gives us a lot of versatility,” he said. “Sometimes, designers will call in and say they want specifically an Indigo, or they want a [Kodak] NexPress, or they want a Ricoh. They want a specific machine. They’re used to buying it, they like the color. So we thought, instead of getting the same machine, let’s get something different so we can go broader spectrum of what we can take on.”
That’s exactly what Maughan wanted to do with his company, too. But rather than use new equipment to provide a broader spectrum of technical capabilities, he wanted to give customers a broader spectrum of colors.
“[We got] an eight-color UV servo press, on which we do seven-color process, which is pretty unusual today,” Maughan said.
Pointil Systems invested in that product about a year ago. Since the business has primarily dealt with industrial labeling and tagging, particularly bar coding, for more than two decades, this was a new foray into printing.
“About a year ago, a customer came to us wanting to move $1 million of work to us in color process,” he said. “And knowing they’ve already got a hundred solutions [available to them], why would I enter the fray? It wasn’t until I saw this press that I saw that it’s fairly transformational in terms of being able to leapfrog conventional color process into something more dynamic, bright and vibrant.”
The impact is noticeable, and we don’t mean in a metaphorical sense. Maughan said he can really tell a difference just by looking at the prints.
“The impact has really been the precision of the artwork, for conventional flexo has a relative[ly] lower threshold, rather than art requirements,” he noted. “You may dumb down artwork to run on conventional flexo. Well, that mindset, all the way back upstream to a graphic artist, when they start generating artwork, they’re thinking, ‘OK, build this art with conventional flexographic print capability in mind.’ Well, we’ve had to go all the way back upstream to the graphic artist and say, ‘Hey, drop that mindset. This has a completely different format and result.’”
This has given the company the opportunity to achieve about 90 percent of the Pantone book with accuracy, meaning it’s close enough that the naked eye can’t distinguish between the PMS color and the color created through the CMYK printer. Before, with its four-color process, Pointil was able to achieve only about 50 percent.
“So, when you have registration of two thousandths of an inch, it creates a lot more vibrant colors,” Maughan said. “You can visually see the difference, and we’ve done side-by-side printing on the same plate, where one half of the plate is conventional four-color process, and the exact same image is stepped right next to it through the seven-color process. You can look at the picture, and you don’t have to understand the technology, you can just look at it and see the difference.”
Best of all, it’s been less expensive for Pointil Systems to operate than its four-color press. “Not only is it creating vibrant, clean colors, it’s less expensive,” Maughan laughed. “So, that’s a win-win for us, the reseller and the end-user.”
What To Look For
You have heard what others are getting out of their new equipment, but maybe you still have questions about where to invest.
“I can tell you what we look for,” Rouse said. “Just like everyone, you have to have a good, quick ROI. It has to make a difference for you that will make you efficient and open new doors into new areas—not just do the things you’re capable of doing. In this case, by doing the signage like I said, we are going to get a request on that because we’re in print, but people are going to come to us and say, ‘Well, I also need 50,000 brochures,’ so it feeds the other part of our company as well. So, what we look for are opportunities to grow the company organically with new business coming in, but also to have stuff sprout out to other things we do, as well.”