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Boom & van Ketel Starts Fresh with KBA Rapidas

Monday, August 04, 2008

Press release from the issuing company

(August 02, 2008) Erik Wink had originally intended to be a teacher, but fate decided otherwise. During a period of practical training at a printing plant he realised that this was where his future lay. After completing a course of training Wink worked in various posts at a number of printing houses before taking over the helm in July 2007 at Haarlem-based Boom & van Ketel grafimedia, the product of a merger between Boom Planeta and van Ketel. Erik Wink steered the company through its existential crisis by pushing through the purchase of two Rapida 105 five-colour medium-format presses: one configured with one coater and the other with two.

"When the four allied companies went bankrupt, we spent the first six months just fighting for survival," recalls Wink. "Those were tough times and culminated in two of the companies merging. By the end of the year the new firm had found its feet and we were able to invest in new kit. We now have around 64 employees and can offer a complete range of print-related services."  

High-potential enterprise

Customers come from all over the country, drawn by a wide range of products that includes business reports and a prestigious yet challenging fine art photography magazine, Focus. Boom van Ketel was recently declared the print provider of choice by TNT Post.

Says Erik Wink: "We have high hopes of our "capper" – a small card inserted in bags of bulbs to give customers an idea of the colour and size of the flowers. Printing these cards demands the utmost precision. The substrate we use is stiff 375-gram board, but with our new KBA presses this is no problem at all. And since we can add a solid coating, and even a spot coating, in one pass, our prices are extremely competitive."

But the main thrust of Erik Wink's strategy lies in delivering the highest possible quality in the shortest possible time. "We hadn't previously run any KBA presses, but we were looking for a two-coater press that could print unusual substrates in a reliably high quality. Following the merger of Boom Planeta and van Ketels we needed to boost capacity as quickly as possible. With the active support of Wifac and KBA we succeeded." 

Determining the level of capacity required proved to be one of the trickiest issues confronting Erik Wink and his team. Seasonal fluctuations in plant utilisation are something that virtually every graphic enterprise experiences in the course of the year. In some cases these can be substantial. How much capacity should be taken on board? Just enough for day-to-day work and therefore inadequate for the customary surge in demand in spring and autumn, or enough to accommodate peak periods but with the risk that presses will stand idle at other times?

"We work closely with UnitedGraphicsGroup, so outsourcing would be a possible option," say Wink. "But it's not that simple. Our allied enterprises focus on pre-press services, primarily for the B2 sector, while we are out to shine in the B1 market. What is more, whenever we have to run our presses at weekends, so do all the other print providers in the region. In other words: during peak periods it's hard to find an external printer with spare capacity. We conceptualised our press specifications and production structure after conducting a careful analysis of the jobs our customers submitted. Our press crews work in three shifts of eight hours each, weekends excepted." 

So what solutions have Erik Wink and his team found to the various issues confronting them? "We deliberately chose KBA's high-performance B1 Rapidas because they're the best on the market – and so are their changeover times. Run lengths average around 10,000 prints, and falling. But even when printing short runs we are faster and cheaper than our competitors. We earn money with high-speed plate changes and conversions, and a higher throughput."

Erik Wink believes it is also possible to make money by optimising the job structure – and the customer base. "At present we are going through our customer lists with a fine-tooth comb to see which customers help boost our bottom line and which ones don't. We're not doing this out of arrogance but in order to safeguard the company's future. Turning away low-margin work creates capacity for jobs that are more profitable, but which we would otherwise have been unable to take on. In the present-day market environment, print providers sometimes have to take painful decisions such as these." 




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