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Herff Jones gets its yearbooks out on time with the help of Esko

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

Miamisburg, OH (USA) – While investing in an advanced, problem-solving solution is always a company's objective, what can be just as important is the support they receive after the system is in place. For Seth McGraw and Herff Jones, a user of Esko software for years, Esko support became an extremely indispensible partner at a most critical time.

Founded in 1920, by Harry Herff and Randall Jones in an old fire engine building in Indianapolis, Herff Jones started out manufacturing class rings, medals, pins and other emblematic jewelry. Over the years, the company added yearbooks, graduation announcements and accessories, diplomas, caps and gowns, diploma frames, and educational learning materials to the list of products it manufactures. With manufacturing facilities across the United States, Herff Jones serves thousands of colleges and high schools across the country, along with countless grade schools, middle schools, churches, commercial firms, sports teams, movie studios and even courtrooms.

A successful business producing school yearbooks

Herff Jones proudly prints millions of yearbooks for thousands of schools across the United States and Canada­—all of which are developed by the students and faculties themselves. Yearbook staff members submit pages to Herff Jones via ftp, which begins the automated workflow process using Esko Automation Engine. The workflow automatically preflights pages and extracts high-resolution image files using OPI, and enhances them to improve the quality of reproduction on press. 

With all its options Automation Engine, with Fast Impose and PackEdge, is a full-featured preproduction editor that offers dedicated tools focused on major pre-press pain points (such as preflighting, trapping, and screening). It gives Herff Jones the ability to act on the fly and efficiently reach their end result.

Helping to resolve workload challenges

Last year Seth McGraw, prepress instructor, also worked on computer setup and tech support for the production department. "We installed two new Automation Engine workflow software systems to split the database and process jobs more freely," remembers McGraw. "Production operators had a new network, were learning new gear, and we were setting up RIPs for offset presses." 

At the time, McGraw was inexperienced in his new role. "Andy Redman, Esko Software and Workflow Escalation Manager, answered many questions for me along the way. Andy understood the scope of our situation and the importance of meeting challenges head-on. Together we solved many issues rather than him leaving me the task of figuring it out on my own," says McGraw. For example, while we were able to split workflow stacks into two, I did not know how to make the two 'talk' to each other. With 'SmartNames' Andy tagged links to reference specific work from each side and pulled information from both."

"I recall one Saturday morning when the system unexpectedly came to a halt. Andy remotely logged in and reset everything so that the workflow could be rebooted. He worked with me to resolve the root-cause of the problem, saving us four hours of down-time," raves McGraw.

"On many occasions while developing workflows, Andy would offer 'out of the box' ideas. I would approach the problem from a direct perspective, but Andy came from a different angle to solve not only that problem, but also preemptively a problem downstream," recalls McGraw.

The way Esko works as a company allows Herff Jones to be more consistent. "Consistency is key in the printing business. Automation Engine has a vast array of functionality and can do most of the things one might imagine. The things it cannot do, Esko is more than willing to find a solution for. Andy understands consistency is our goal and he helps us strive for excellence," adds McGraw.

"While Andy was certainly a lifesaver for me, I got the sense that people like him are not unusual at Esko," concludes McGraw. "With Esko, the software is great, but the people are even better."


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