Top-Quality Book Printer Doubles Production with Second KBA Rapida Large Format 51' Convertible Perfecting Press
Thursday, December 06, 2007
December 5, 2007 - KBA North America, a global press manufacturer based in Williston, Vermont, reports that Thomson-Shore, a top-quality manufacturer of hardcover and softcover books, is increasing its press production by 15%, doubling its output on one of its five lines by installing a second KBA Rapida 130a 51-inch two-color convertible perfecting press. The 260-employee firm headquartered in Dexter, Michigan, has responded to its customers' requests for faster turnaround in the most efficient manner possible.
"Our main goal is to create value for our customer," says Carl Trisdale, prepress-press manager at Thomson-Shore. "We've accomplished this by installing a second large-format KBA press with a sheet size of 51 inches. Our trade, professional, religious, and scholarly publishers are demanding faster turnaround for timely, topical books in the most cost-efficient manner. Now we're able to double our output by running up 32-page signature jobs two-up and installing a new bindery system."
Key to doubling production is using 50-inch sheets
The firm installed its new KBA Rapida 130a 51-inch two-color convertible perfecting press in June 2007, replacing an older 40-inch two-color perfector from a different manufacturer. Press operators praise the reliability and ease of use of the press, saying how quickly they learned to operate it. The firm utilizes a variety of substrates, including 45 to 70# coated stock.
"We've created a work flow and niche for our company in which we run the smallest batches possible," explains Trisdale. "We're always doubling up the work whenever possible. The high print quality, reduced makeready times, and extremely low waste are the reasons we chose the KBA large-format press."
Customers include leading book manufacturers and university publishers
In its 35 years of business, Thomson-Shore has built itself into a leading printer of both hardcover and softcover books, posting $33 million in annual sales in 2007. Forty percent of the firm's business is relegated to the university publishing market; it counts Duke University and the University of North Carolina as major customers. Other large customers include giant bookseller Borders, Ignatius and Globe Pequot.
"When Pope Benedict XVI, the new leader of the Catholic Church, was selected in April 2005, we had to quickly print all of his texts and writings," recalls Trisdale. "We worked overtime for those jobs. We print a lot of other religious texts as well."
Participatory management plan involves all employees
A key part of Thomson-Shore's success is its employees, who have a stake in the company through their employee ownership plan. In 1999, when the company became employee-owned, the firm adopted the Scanlon Plan, a participatory philosophy of management developed by Joseph Scanlon during the 1940s and '50s as a way to integrate the interests of the workforce and the interests of the firm. Subsequently, Douglas McGregor at MIT elaborated Scanlon's ideas into the concept of employee involvement.
In the Scanlon Plan, an organizational environment is created in which employees have access to a good deal of information regarding a company's situation, good and bad, and have the opportunity to contribute to solutions to problems the company faces. Both workers and management assume responsibility for their own actions and share responsibility for decision making. Together they seek ways to improve operations so that productivity increases.
New $10 million bond will go toward new equipment and training
The firm's management style and production output are keeping pace with growth in the market. To continue to expand and add new equipment, Thomson-Shore received a private activity bond (PAB) from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to finance a $10 million expansion of the company in September 2007, which will be used to acquire and install additional machinery and equipment as well as increase staffing. Over a three-year period, Thomson-Shore will be replacing a web press, sewing machines, and binding lines as well as providing dedicated time for the staff to train.
As for the future, Thomson-Shore is seeking to make the firm more environmentally friendly and to coax high school and college students to join the industry. "We became the first book manufacturer to join the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit program of social and environmental entrepreneurs dedicated to increasing the use of recycled paper within the book industry," says Trisdale, "and we have received FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] certification. We're also making sure that our equipment and products are as environmentally friendly as possible." In 2003, the firm was the first U.S. book manufacturer to stock a 100% post-consumer recycled paper. This was in addition to recycled papers of a lower post-consumer percentage that Thomson-Shore already made available.
Introducing high school students to the graphic arts business
To help ensure that it has a trained workforce in the future, Thomson-Shore has implemented an internship program called Graph X. Four times per year, for one week at a time, high school sophomores and juniors rotate in and out of production shadowing. Some graduates have come to work for the firm. The company will also provide college tuition reimbursement for graphic arts training.
Established in 1972 by Ned Thomson and Harry Shore, Thomson-Shore is a small-town, short- to medium-run length (200 to 50,000 copies) book manufacturer with a national reputation for producing high-quality work. After retiring in 1998, Ned and Harry transferred company ownership to the employees. Through their Employee Stock Ownership Plan, Thomson-Shore employees own nearly 100% of the firm. By playing a major role in the operation of the company, employees are also introduced to waste-reduction procedures. Thomson-Shore has found that by reusing folders, envelopes, boxes, packing material, toner cartridges, and paper; choosing washable mugs and utensils over disposable; and communicating mainly via e-mail, it can significantly reduce the amount of garbage the company produces. Employees also recycle such a large variety of materials that as many as eight recycling containers are picked up twice a week by their recycling hauler. Thomson-Shore uses envelopes made of recycled material, as well as long-lasting fluorescent lightbulbs in the office to decrease office waste. Employees further use the following energy-saving methods: computers are put on sleep timers, light and temperature control measures for the building are implemented, and routine maintenance is performed on office equipment. Thomson-Shore was awarded an honorable mention for Excellence in Pollution Prevention in Washtenaw County in 2005.
KBA North America is a member of the KBA Group, a leading global supplier of sheetfed, webfed, and digital offset presses located in Williston, Vermont. KBA is dedicated to excellence in printing technology. The company's greatest satisfaction comes from helping its customers succeed by building presses that enable their businesses to prosper. From engineering through production, KBA's focus is on people, providing flexible technology, customized printing solutions, and personal service to help its partners differentiate themselves and be successful today and in the future.