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Sandy Alexander repurposes an existing building as a wide format facility

Published on June 25, 2012

Richard Romano:  Hi, this is Richard Romano from WhatTheyThink.com.  And we are here in Atlanta, Georgia for the Fourth Annual WhatTheyThink Environmental Innovation Awards.  And we’re talking with the winner of this year’s Environmental Sustainability in your Plant, Sandy Alexander.  And we’re talking with Doug Hazlett, who is Sandy Alexander’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Thank you very much for being here, and congratulations.  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s great to be here.  

Richard Romano:  Now, one of the things that you won for this year was you repurposed an existing facility into a wide format facility.  Tell us a little bit about that process.  

Doug Hazlett:  Well we had a building by our major plant which was a warehouse for paper and we bought a wide and grand format retail visual merchandising division and we actually took three-quarters of that warehouse and refurbished it into a wide and grand format facility.  

Richard Romano:  Now, what were some of the environmental considerations you had to look at when you were refurbishing the facility?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well we did a number of things.  One is, we tried to do it as energy efficient as possible, so we did things for example, we put in a false roof to help keep the energy costs down.  We put the offices on the second floor so there would be more – heated more efficiently.  We used low flow bathroom equipment to help reduce the amount of water we use and we actually put in a silver recovery unit for the wide and grand format also, the photography area.  

Richard Romano:  Now I see more and more wide format facilities sort of pursue environmental sustainability initiatives.  What are some of the more unique challenges that wide format presents compared to, say, traditional offset?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, one of the biggest actually is dealing with vinyl.  Obviously vinyl is a major part of the wide and grand format business and not part of the traditional printing business.  And because of that, we’re actually looking for areas to recycle vinyl.  That’s the major one by far.  We have introduced a number of environmentally-friendly substrates that we’re working with also.  The other area, which is the photographic area, does require recovering silver.  So…  

Richard Romano:  Does it still have a film being used, or silver-based film used in the prepres process?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, it’s all – it’s really only the C-print in the area of use of in making C-prints is the main area for that, the rest of it is – the presses are digital similar to digital printing, but they’re gigantic and huge print presses.  

Richard Romano:  What are some of the other unique challenges you found in pursuing environmental sustainability initiatives?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, we’ve really tried to broaden our efforts beyond the traditional areas which are paper and going beyond efficacy, I mean, to sustainable paper certification into broader areas of both saving energy, reducing our energy usage and going into social responsibility also.  

Richard Romano:  Now speaking of paper, you’re also pursuing what you call a process for reliable material sourcing.  Tell us a little bit about that.  

Doug Hazlett:  You mean by sustainability?  

Richard Romano:  Right.  

Doug Hazlett:  Well we’ve – we do, do a number of sustainable paper programs.  We’re with the FSC, SFI and PFC, which is very important.  And we also – some of our clients ask for it now.  And also we are educating our clients on the availability and there’s almost no reason not to use a staple paper now when printing a product.  

Richard Romano:  Are you finding increased demand from customers and other print buyers for sustainable processes and materials?  

Doug Hazlett:  Oh, definitely.  The majority, I’d say, probably 75 to 80 percent of our clients now ask for sustainable paper and even in the wide and grand format area sustainable substrates are becoming very important.  

Richard Romano:  Are they willing to pay extra for it or is it just something that they just accept?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, it’s gotten to the point where you don’t really have to – in the majority of cases you don’t really have to pay a lot extra for it and where you do they, in some cases, they will definitely step up and pay extra.  The area that the biggest difference probably from a cost standpoint is in the wide and grand format area.  

Richard Romano:  So what advice would you give other printers, be they large, be they small, be they traditional or wide format who wanted to pursue environmental sustainability?  

Doug Hazlett:  Well, I think a couple of things.  One is it’s the right thing to do.  We actually have been doing it for many years now and we think it’s the right thing to do for the environment anyways.  But beyond that, it’s also good for the business.  It’s also a good thing to do for the business and our clients are asking for it now and it’s something we want to partner with our clients on.  

Richard Romano:  Great.  Well, thank you very much and congratulations.  

Doug Hazlett:  Thank you.  

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Wide Format Editor

Richard Romano

Richard Romano, Section Editor/Senior Analyst
Richard has written about communication, graphics hardware and software trends for the past 15 years.

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