By Barbara Pellow March 22, 2006 -- Last week, my column focused on the challenges surrounding innovation in the graphic communications market. The article highlighted some concepts from Clay Christensen's book, "The Innovator's Dilemma." He discusses how some companies have an uncanny ability to meet the needs of their customers. Key to their success are innovative approaches to production, marketing, and investment, supported by managerial principles that encourage continuous business improvements. Christensen points out that disruptive technologies result in growth and satisfy market demand at lower cost. When this happens, companies that do not invest in disruptive technologies are left behind. "To effectively deliver the right portfolio, you need to be the technology leader." In the world of graphic communications, winners will invent new business models to achieve breakthrough growth. Graphic communications service providers must look at the market as more than just printing and have a clear understanding of the total business communications infrastructure. Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Frank Defino, Jr, Vice President and Partner in Franklin Park, Illinois-based Tukaiz. As I listened to Frank's perspective, I knew I was talking to a marketing communications service provider that views the market as more than printing and has a clear understanding of the business communications infrastructure. Tukaiz knows that value-added services are a critical component of its business model. According to Defino, "To effectively deliver the right portfolio, you need to be the technology leader." "With technology moving so quickly we need to continually educate and show our customers the magnitude of what can be done to meet their needs." Defino's words are evidenced by the tag line on the company web site: "Driven by Technology. Guided by Integrity. Key to Your Success." This tag line is how Tukaiz runs its business. Defino said, "With technology moving so quickly in our industry, we need to continually educate and show our customers the magnitude of what can be done to meet their needs. We lead them to new ways of communicating information and they have come to expect that from Tukaiz. We use the technology we sell to our customers in our own marketing initiatives." Tukaiz: The History Tukaiz (pronounced two-kays) is a family-owned and operated supplier of quality marketing communication products and services. It began as a platemaking house, founded by a father and son whose last name was Kirchner --hence the "two K's" for Kirchner and Kirchner-- only spelled out as Tukaiz. Out of respect for the family as well as the uniqueness and recognition in the marketplace the name Tukaiz lived on when Frank Defino Sr. purchased the firm in 1963. Innovative Leadership Tukaiz has always been a leader in establishing an innovative approach to media development. It was an early adopter of digital color printing, had a digital photography studio before the market realized the potential of the technology, and was one of the first to recognize the implications of the Internet. Today, spread over three acres, six buildings and over 100,000 square feet of production capacity Tukaiz employs leading artists and craftsmen and has invested in the highest levels of hardware and software tools for graphic communications. Its services provide complete media flexibility, from design and capture to print and Internet. Tukaiz is organized around three key strategic high technology services; imaging, print and interactive. Imaging services include digital photography, image editing and retouching, scanning, color correction and prepress file preparation. Customers such as ad agencies and marketing executives have come to rely on Tukaiz for high powered retouching, imaging, color matching, and consistent quality from initial image capture through high-end printing. Tukaiz was an early adopter of digital color technology, beginning with two HP Indigo digital presses in 1994. Since then the printing business has flourished. Today, its expertise lies in both traditional offset and digital on demand. Tukaiz has two state of the art, fully equipped 40" Heidelberg presses. The presses offer in-line UV and aqueous coating ability. The company produces high caliber products on exotic substrates and plastics, including foils, static clings, styrene and lenticular. Innovation occurs because the company leader has a broad vision of what the organization can accomplish and leads the enterprise toward it. The digital printing facility has experienced tremendous growth. It houses five HP-Indigo presses, two of which are the new 3050 series. Soon to come are an additional S2000 and a 5000. They also have four Hewlett-Packard large-format devices and two Mutoh Banner Presses for creation of banners and ad prints. Tukaiz can mount and prepare the output with grommets, easel backs or other forms of presentation. As the print business expanded, so did bindery and fulfillment services. The Tukaiz campus has a 15,000 square foot warehouse and finishing center equipped with the latest in automated digital finishing, lamination, mailing and stamp canceling equipment and services. Thinking Beyond Print Tukaiz recognized that multi-channel communications would be critical to marketers and would augment the firm's print production capabilities. Thinking beyond print, Tukaiz established a complete infrastructure for interactive multi-media, including video and audio recording, editing and production capabilities, 2D and 3D modeling and animation suites, database development and programming, and support for e-learning and e-commerce. Tukaiz leverages this multi-media capability to serve customers like McDonalds. For example, McDonald's faces the challenge of educating employees at 30,000 locations around the globe. The Tukaiz Interactive team was hired to create a kiosk based computer training application. By developing engaging, detailed interactive media from McDonald's resources, Tukaiz produced full courses, complete with video demonstrations, animated guides and virtual simulators. The courses are available in defined lessons and offer self-paced learning through interactive navigation control. Lessons I Learned The most important lesson I learned talking with Defino was that innovation occurs because the company leader has a broad vision of what the organization can accomplish and leads the enterprise toward it. As Tukaiz invested in new technology, decisions were made based on the ability to help its customer base. Defino explains: "We focus on helping our customers excel through the most effective use of technology. If a new technology could help a drive their businesses, we would make the investment." Tukaiz was never afraid to invest in technology. The company looked it from an opportunistic perspective and felt that continuous innovation was essential. Frank Jr. said, "My father set the tone for being a technology leader. He appreciates the role that technology has in creating new value and achieving business growth. He has consciously managed the value system and atmosphere at Tukaiz to support it. That attitude is being propagated as the next generation plays a more predominant role in the business." "We focus on helping our customers excel through the most effective use of technology. If a new technology could help a drive their businesses, we would make the investment." When looking at the next wave in technology, the focus at Tukaiz is development and delivery of integrated marketing campaigns that leverage data, personalization, printing and interactive media. Defino said, "Personalized and customized campaigns are finally seeing the light of day. We are investing in data and web infrastructure to help our customers in the successful execution and it is working." He went on to say, "This industry has tremendous potential. Staying in front of the technology needs to be a daily occurrence for everyone here at Tukaiz." The Bottom Line For innovation to drive growth in the world of graphic communications, managers need to think in terms of new strategies, new technologies and advanced services. The result will be new value chains that satisfy emerging customer needs, as well as generate sustainable revenue streams for the owners. Tukaiz has proven that leveraging disruptive technology equates to harnessing new business growth.