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Minnesota's Schmidt Printing expands variable with HP Indigo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Press release from the issuing company

Palo Alto, Calif. – Established in 1912 as a small, three-man commercial print shop, Schmidt Printing today is a major supplier of direct marketing and other print services that has expanded its capabilities further by adding digital printing capabilities to its offering.

The Byron, Minn.-based firm specializes in medium-run web printing for direct marketers and a variety of other customers, including magazine, newspaper and card pack publishers, and multi-channel merchants.

"A year ago, one of our largest customers was looking for a way to print a huge quantity of short-run, personalized postcards – about 1,000 cards per run, and millions of them per week," said Jeff Winter, director of sales and marketing at Schmidt. "The only way to provide short-run quantities at the volume they were requesting was with digital printing technology.

"That's when we started looking for a single solution that could offer variable data while cost-effectively handling a high volume of short run jobs."

Schmidt reached out to its parent company, Taylor Corporation in Mankato, Minn., to help identify digital technology options that would meet its customer's request – and at a competitive price point. Taylor is one of the 10 largest graphic arts companies in the world, with more than 90 locations around the globe, and has a long history working with HP to provide end-to-end graphic arts solutions.

Working together with Taylor's management team, Schmidt considered a number of digital printing solutions before selecting an HP Indigo W7200 Digital Press.

"Installation happened very fast," said Winter. "I have to give HP kudos – within two months, we went from the purchase order to having the press on our floor and running live product."

Bountiful benefits

Why HP Indigo? For Schmidt, the press met every one of its needs, including the capability of producing a high volume of short runs while delivering the offset quality its customers demand.

"The HP Indigo W7200 delivers the performance we were looking for," said Winter. "When you're printing up to three million postcards on a weekly basis, the web-to-print capability of this press allows us to handle that volume and with the quality we need. In fact, because it has two print engines, the HP Indigo W7200 Digital Press is literally double the speed of a traditional, sheet-fed digital press."

The press also provided a residual benefit to Schmidt: its roll-feed design saved it the hassle and cost of stocking extra media.

"With the HP Indigo press, we can use the same paper rolls that we stock for our other presses," said Winter. "There was no need to spend extra money on sheets, for example. That's a great advantage for us."

Another advantage for Schmidt was the print quality produced by the HP Indigo digital press.

"The HP Indigo delivers uncompromised image quality that matches the output from our offset presses," said Winter. "For our customers, this enables us to provide the best of both digital and offset technology, and the ability to scale from small print runs to full national and international programs. The HP Indigo is a natural fit for our business that complements our other printing technologies."

A complete, end-to-end solution

For Schmidt, the HP Indigo digital press was only part of the solution. Schmidt worked closely with its HP sales team to design a complete, end-to-end solution that streamlined workflow and maximized efficiency.

"We worked with HP to find the right finishing solution for the back end," said Winter. "This complete solution lets us print, UV coat, trim, address and send each piece directly into the mail stream.

"The HP Indigo also allows us to combine thousands of orders and lets the postal sort drive the press output. The pieces are sorted based on the variable data, and not the creative, so we're able to combine the speed of the press with the best presort possible at the end for a very efficient and complete solution. It's a model that allows us to push a lot of volume very efficiently."

Building a partnership to build business

Engaging with HP to provide a digital printing solution was Schmidt executives' original intent. However, they soon realized that HP had more to offer. From operator training to marketing support, HP has been dedicated to ensuring Schmidt's success.

"Not long after our HP Indigo digital press was installed, HP market segment leaders came in and presented to our sales teams," said Winter. "They shared ideas on how to use the technology to serve our customers. And we have more sessions with HP coming up to help demonstrate the value of variable print to our customers."

Access to a dedicated HP account representative provides Schmidt with another resource to strengthen its digital printing capabilities and grow business.

"HP continues to be very responsive," said Winter. "We have a dedicated HP account representative who is always checking in to see how he can help. I can also reach out to him and talk about marketing and new business ideas. HP doesn't just put the equipment on the floor. They continue to work with us to find ways to help us grow our business."

Beyond the service and support, the technology itself has already paid dividends for Schmidt.

"We've had opportunities for significant amounts of work from large retail companies and in the health care industry," said Winter. "Those opportunities are a direct result of having an HP Indigo press on the floor."

Staying ahead of the curve

Schmidt is confident that with the HP Indigo digital press, it is in a solid position for continued success.

"From a direct-mail perspective, we know customers will continue to request more relevancy, more variable options, and shorter, more targeted campaigns," said Winter. "And, of course, they demand offset quality. The HP Indigo digital press helps Schmidt deliver all of that.

"But, print isn't the whole package anymore. It has to be combined with electronic communications and multichannel campaigns. Digital enables the output to be more relevant, more personal, driving the target to take action by visiting a personalized website or using a QR Code or whatever the case may be. We're able to swap copy and images based on prior transactions or demographics, so the pieces are more effective. And with the short-run capability, even small businesses can take advantage of the technology to reach their customers."

"In this business," Winter added, "the technology changes quickly. By continuing to be actively involved in conversations with HP about new technologies and how to capitalize on them, we're able to stay ahead of the curve."

For the immediate future, Schmidt executives are happy with the high performance and quality produced by their HP Indigo digital press as the company continues to build for future growth.

"The Indigo has met our expectations of pushing the volume through to meet our customer needs," said Winter. "We haven't missed a single deadline for our customers, and the print quality has exceeded our expectations. We're confident that HP digital printing technology gives us a compelling market advantage that not only benefits our current customers, but will also attract new customers to further expand our business."


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