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Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses Celebrates 25 Years

Monday, May 04, 2009

Press release from the issuing company

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — Twenty-five years ago, Apple Inc. introduced the original Macintosh computer, Terms of Endearment took home the Oscar for Best Picture and the Colts departed Baltimore in the dead of night.

It also was 25 years ago that Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses’ present identity was forged. Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (MLP U.S.A., Inc.), the North American sales unit for printing presses manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., is celebrating a quarter of a century of innovations in 2009.

“Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses has changed and grown tremendously since 1984,” said Marke Baker, president. “There have been new faces, new facilities, new products, new opportunities and, of course, new challenges. We owe our success and longevity to our customers, our employees and other industry partners. Without them, we would not be
celebrating this landmark year. This milestone offers an excellent occasion to assess our progress and reinforce our strengths.”

Humble beginnings

Today, MLP U.S.A. markets Mitsubishi sheetfed, commercial heatset web and newspaper presses to printing companies from Canada to Central America. Some of the leading commercial, carton, label, book, publication, catalog and newspaper printers depend on MLP U.S.A. for equipment solutions.

Although MLP U.S.A. lays claim to one of the graphic arts industry’s richest traditions of innovation, its start in the U.S. market was fairly modest. The forerunner of the current company began as a small sales office in Chicago in 1977. Over the next several years, the fledgling organization grew to seven employees and $9 million in revenues.
The operation ultimately outgrew its Chicago location, and, in 1984, Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses North America, as it was then called, expanded to the suburb of Arlington Heights with W.F. “Ric” Buchanan as its president. MLP U.S.A., Inc. formally became a U.S. corporation in April 1991.

Promoting from within

Buchanan headed up MLP U.S.A. until his retirement in 2002. He was succeeded by K.G. Katayama, then a 25-year veteran of the printing equipment industry who had held a number of management posts with parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. After his appointment concluded in 2006, he assumed another strategic assignment with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.

When the board of directors tapped Baker to lead the company, he already had worked for MLP U.S.A. for 18 years. A member of the executive staff since 2002, Baker had served as vice president of customer service, web products specialist, web installation manager and national service manager for web and newspaper presses. He began his printing industry career in 1980 in the Engineering and Maintenance Department at book publisher Foote & Davies, Inc. in Atlanta He spent eight years with Foote & Davies, eventually becoming department manager.

Continually expanding

By 1992, another expansion, this time to nearby Lincolnshire, proved necessary to accommodate the growing sales and service functions.

The 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Lincolnshire is home to the national sales and marketing staff. It also houses the Litho Center and an adjoining customer lounge, parts depot and customer service apparatus. Parts, engineering, field service, technology demonstrations and in-house training come under the umbrella of customer service
Along with the Lincolnshire headquarters, MLP U.S.A. maintains a 12,000-square-foot facility in Ontario, Calif., 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, to assist Western printers with sales, service and parts. The two facilities stock more than $20 million in parts. From these locations, factory-trained mechanical, electrical and lithographic supervisors are dispatched to customer sites for installation, service and on-site instruction.

Demonstrations and training

The Litho Center is the nerve center for technology and education. Fully operational sheetfed presses are used to demonstrate printing capabilities and provide training for customers’ operating personnel. Presently, the Litho Center showcases the Diamond V3000LX (29 1/2 x 41 11/32 inches) and Diamond 3000LX (28 3/8 x 40 1/8 inches) wide stock range presses. A robust digital workflow system creates a seamless link between prepress and manufacturing operations.

The in-house training program, established in 1989 and conducted monthly, emphasizes makeready procedures, automated running systems, press wash-up and operational features that are unique to Mitsubishi presses, among other critical topics. On-site training at the time of installation allows press operators to practice skills they will need to operate the press on a daily basis.

Advancing technology

The Litho Center functions as a research and development site as well. Notably, the print quality measurement systems Diamond Litho Analysis (DLA) and Digital Register Analysis (DRA) originated here. DRA 2000 earned the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s prestigious InterTech Technology Award for 2000. The latest generation of DiamondLink III, the CIP4-compatible automated press control system, was developed here, as was a modem-enabled system to remotely diagnose press problems. Partner manufacturers utilize the Litho Center to field-test new products and peripheral devices.

Broad regional focus

MLP U.S.A. has successfully combined a highly motivated and well-qualified management team with a sophisticated sales and marketing culture. Direct mail, the Internet, public relations, editorial exposure in trade publications and customer communication materials round out a long list of vehicles for communicating its message to customers.

In recent years, strategic alliances with sales agents that conduct business outside the United States, such as Mexico City-based Suntek S.A. de C.V. and Miami-based Perez Trading Co., have gained a solid presence for Mitsubishi presses in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

“Entering our 26th year, MLP U.S.A. continues to keep in step with developments within the industry so we can provide much stronger products that support customers in printing,” Baker said. “Dedication to excellence throughout the entire organization has helped fuel the momentum behind a solid product line. Leveraging the support and expertise of our sales team enables MLP to draw on a deep foundation of industry knowledge.”




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