Ambitious Company Adds Second Sheeting Line from World’s Foremost Web Finishing Expert
Marlton, N.J. – When Impact (Winsted, Minn.) evolves, it does so decisively and systematically. When the company made its move into the digital inkjet color space in 2015—“We wanted to catch the wave of the future,” said COO Pete Studer—the company replaced most of its legacy fleet of continuous and cut-sheet toner-based devices with a Canon VarioPrint i300 color digital press for short-run digital print jobs, and a Canon ColorStream 3900 Z for longer-run work. Impact runs 100 percent variable data on both machines, which are housed in a second company facility located in Winsted, Minn., west of the company’s original plant and corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.
Established as a mailing house some 33 years ago, Impact moved into pick-and-pack services 20 years ago, then into the transactional market a decade later. Today, the company has successfully negotiated the integration of digital print and high-speed finishing from MBO America to supplement its thriving mail business.
To maximize the investment in its brand-new “white paper factory,” Impact consulted early with MBO, a finishing partner since 2000, to determine its web finishing needs. “You have to have engagement with your finishing people, and MBO rose to the challenge,” Studer said. In 2014, the company followed up the new press installs with an SVC 521 C Sheeter from MBO. Last year, to accommodate increased business volume, the company added a 381 Cutting Table and 850.4 Transfer Table, along with a second SVC 521 C Sheeter with B30 Perfection FWII 4-plate 780 Folder with cold and hotmelt glue, UW 60 Unwinder, Delta 502 Banding Delivery, and Digital Folding Unit FWII 68/8. The company currently serves as a beta site for a new MBO modular stacker designed to roll up behind the digital sheeter. “Our partnership with MBO has been strategic,” Studer said, “and we couldn’t be happier.”
Close Enough for Comfort
MBO’s expertise as a digital postpress supplier was instrumental in Impact’s decision to run the sheeting systems near-line rather than in-line with the Canon 3900. In addition to taking into account the ratio of press speed to finishing speed, said Studer, “When you have only one inkjet press on the continuous side, you have to understand what you are dealing with in terms of machine uptime before deciding on an in-line solution,” he said. “For that reason alone, we are happy we did near-line finishing. However, we also liked the modular feel of MBO finishing equipment because we do a lot of ‘plug-and-play’ and find that MBO solutions provide us with the flexibility we need as job requirements change.”
Flexibility is the single most important consideration when looking for finishing equipment to support inkjet production. Following Impact’s example, it is wise to ask the OEM about the flexibility of its equipment relative to the demands of the market, and determine whether the contemplated finishing equipment can be adapted to meet those demands. This is why MBO takes a modular approach to finishing, where each digital finishing unit is compatible with any other unit and can be rolled in or out of a given system, enabling the user to reconfigure his finishing system at a moment’s notice. In a mix-and-match finishing environment, PSPs can continually add on to existing systems as increased business, new opportunities or job applications come along—as Impact demonstrated with the addition of its second sheeting line.
Prior to installation of the two Canon presses, Impact outsourced a significant portion of its offset-printed shells. Post-installation, the company has taken the lion’s share of that work in-house. “We are 95 percent finished transferring our offset shell customers to our digital inkjet production platform,” Studer said. Impact also operates a traditional bindery that houses four additional MBO folding systems.
Coming to Grips with the Data
Currently, direct mail marketing represents about 60 percent of Impact’s overall business, with transactional printing accounting for the remainder. As the North American transactional printing market has evolved and consolidated, electronic document presentment and other data-related services have taken on increasing importance. “We really had to ramp up that part of the business,” Studer said, explaining that the company facilitated the shift by making a major investment in personnel and technology to offer marketing data analytics, database marketing solutions, direct response strategies, and other opportunities for its customers. The business of selling outcomes and ROI instead of negotiating a price per piece required a significant shift in perspective, Studer said.
“We differentiate ourselves by having our transactional and direct marketing services under one roof,” Studer said. “With our database expertise, we can leverage insights we gain from data analysis to make documents more dynamic and engaging to the end-user by filling in the white space on their transactional documents with account-specific promotional content like high-quality color images and relevant ads,” using its single-pass, high-speed inkjet devices powered by Canon’s PRISMAproduction workflow. Impact also had to step up to changing requirements on the prepress side, and now relies on ICC color profiles and workflow automation to keep color consistent across changing substrates and ink systems.
Come for Coffee, Stay for the Buffet
With the help of its multiple standard and semi-automated MBO folding systems, the company produces commercially folded and direct mail pieces for clients who typically come to Impact for its mailing experience and know-how, but increasingly stay to sample the company’s burgeoning data analytics expertise. “Now that the integration piece is behind us,” Studer continued, we are beginning to serve a variety of agency customers at the level where decisions are being made and campaigns are being developed. We also do a lot of mobile work because many campaigns start with smart phones,” he added. At the present time, the ambitious company is looking to increase its business by continuing to grow on multiple different media channels, including print, mobile, email, and social media.
In the markets where Impact competes—nonprofit, insurance, and transactional—the company faces ongoing challenges from decreasing print volumes and increasing postage costs to stiff competition and the need to ensure the integrity of its data management activities. Accordingly, the company’s facilities, personnel, systems, and procedures regularly undergo rigorous client review and scrutiny to Service Organization Controls (SOC Type 2) standards ensuring security, confidentiality, and processing integrity in the handling of sensitive client data.
Whether one uses the term integrated marketing, omni-channel marketing, or multi-channel marketing to describe Impact’s business, what’s clear is that here is a company that has succeeded by boldly overhauling it business model to secure its future. By investing wisely, adopting the newest tools available, and relying on the advice of trusted suppliers, Impact has managed to strengthen and grow its core direct mail business while reaching out to new customers and markets. In so doing, it has succeeded where the timid may fail.