By Ed Marino of Presstek May 1, 2006 -- It should surprise no one that a sustainable business model is a key to business success. At Presstek, we have been focused on sustainability since our inception--for both us and for our customers. Let me share with you our perspective on sustainability. In the manufacture of print, we have been faced with what sometimes seems to be an increasing set of challenges and a period of dynamic change. Customers want shorter runs, higher quality, faster turnaround times and a competitive price. Long gone are the days when we had the luxury of weeks or months to complete a print project. Now we are routinely faced with a schedule that is comprised of days, or even hours. And we are routinely competing against nontraditional competitors as our customers explore alternative options to print for their business communications in an increasingly multi-channel world. We must all focus on building sustainable business models that will carry print far into the future From the beginning, Presstek has been focused on making offset printing presses as simple as using a computer peripheral. As the inventor of direct imaging (DI) printing and chemistry-free printing plates, Presstek has been dedicated to taking steps, time and cost out of the offset print manufacturing process and doing so in a chemistry-free environment. With the latest generation of DI presses, the level of efficiency and automation of offset printing has reached an all-time high--as has the unmatched quality that is generated by these presses. For the print service provider using the newest generation of DI presses, processed files are sent from prepress over a high-speed network directly to the press. Chemistry-free plates are imaged on the press, simultaneously and in precise register, in 4.5 minutes. From file to sellable sheet, including plate imaging, it is a mere 8 minutes and 30 seconds to deliver printed sheets at 300 lpi or with stochastic screening. And fast changeover time between jobs means more jobs can be produced in less time. This gets at the heart of business sustainability in print manufacturing. Not only does the chemistry-free printing process contribute toward environmental sustainability, but the efficiency of the entire process means that print service providers can be more competitive than ever before from a time and cost perspective, effectively delivering against increasing customer demands. And this new, improved, print manufacturing process opens the door to brand-new applications that are not possible to produce using any other process. For example, Brent Lawrence of Kwik Kopy Printing in Pickering, Ontario, Canada, is now producing paint chip samples for a paint manufacturer, automatically matching the colors and generating a proof sheet off of the press that can be instantly measured for accuracy and/or press-checked by the customer without the delays and potential for error inherent in other proofing processes. For this customer, who upgraded to the DI from a two-color press, paint chip samples were an application he could not have produced in the past. John Hulse of Printing Express in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been in business for 15 years. Like most in the industry, he has seen run lengths and turnaround times continue to decline. He had a mix of toner-based digital color, two-color presses and a 19x25" four color press. He reports that set-up on the four-color press, including film and stripping, could take three hours or more, and makeready consumed 2,000 sheets of paper. Four-color break-even was 2,500 sheets and he found he was walking away from a significant amount of work in the 1,000 to 2,500 range. The new capabilities of a QuickMaster DI have enabled him to not only add new customers, but to capture a larger share of work for existing customers. For shops supporting multiple presses with CTP, chemistry-free CTP plate production is a one-step process, without the need for a controlled environment and eliminating the variability inherent in chemistry-based platemaking processes. With chemistry-free CTP, you are always working with a first-generation image. The figure below graphically depicts the dramatic reduction in time, cost and error that results from implementing a streamlined workflow, whether it be based on chemistry-free CTP or DI. But sustainability on the part of the print service provider is only part of the story. That sustainability is heavily dependent on partnership with a supplier that has the infrastructure in place to ensure maximum uptime for the shop. As wonderful as a press may be, if it is not running due to technical problems or unavailability of plates or other consumables, it is not generating revenue and not contributing to the sustainability of the business. That is why, over the past two years, Presstek has made significant investments in building a sustainable business model for ourselves. This includes both our distribution model, and our financial, human resource and technology infrastructure. Sustainability is heavily dependent on partnership with a supplier With our ABDick acquisition now fully integrated, our multi-channel distribution model is built on a blend of a strong and talented direct sales and service force in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, and a strong graphic arts dealer network in continental Europe and other parts of the world. More than half of our revenue is generated through our direct channel, and almost 70 percent of our revenue is generated by the recurring purchase of our consumables products. Our financial, human resource and technology infrastructure is solid, and our sustainable business model positions us as a strong, dependable business partner that is ready, willing and able to lead our customers to a more digital and sustainable future for their businesses--A Smarter Way to Print. We have made sustainability our watchword at Presstek--business sustainability for us and for our customers, and products that make the offset printing process more environmentally sustainable. In an industry that is facing new challenges and nontraditional competition every day, all of us--whether suppliers or service providers--must focus on building sustainable business models that will carry print far into the future as a viable business communications alternative in a multi-channel world.