By Ed Marino, CEO of Presstek September 2, 2003 -- This month, I want to go across the Pond to share a wonderful customer story with you from the U.K. Words and Graphics, the subject of this month’s Presstek Perspective, is based in Anstey, Leicestershire (U.K.), in an area rich with history. In fact, the home of Lady Jane Grey is nearby—you may recall that she had the dubious pleasure of being the Queen of England for nine days, prior to having a fatal run-in with Henry VIII. As an interesting side note, when Lady Jane Grey was beheaded, her family protested by lopping the tops off of all the trees on their estate in Leicestershire, a tradition which remains to this day. The company was founded in May 1989 by Robert Thirlby, its current Chairman, when he tired of life at sea as an Electrical Supervisor on a drill ship engaged in exploratory deep water oil drilling. Long interested in all things computing, Thirlby chose to capitalize on the emerging digitization of the prepress and printing industries by establishing a book typesetting company using open systems and Postscript output. Thirlby says, “I have always loved books and the book manufacturing process fascinated me. I felt the printing industry was on the verge of massive technological change and wanted to be involved.” Not content to simply produce ordinary books, Thirlby settled on the production of large-type books for the visually impaired, although he also typesets normal-type academic books as well. From the outset, Words & Graphics was aggressive in adopting new technology. When the business was first founded, typeset pages were delivered as laser output printed on paper. By the mid-1990s, Words & Graphics had the ability to deliver those pages on imposed film, and in 1999, toner-based digital printing capability was added. It’s most recent addition was a DI press. Thus, the company has migrated over the last 14 years from a specialty typesetting house to a full-service color printer with an all-digital workflow, and has done an outstanding job of blending multiple technologies to meet an expanding range of customer requirements, while at the same time providing a much-needed service to the visually impaired community. Today, Words and Graphics is run on a day-to-day basis by CEO Sue Perkins and a team of eight enthusiastic and talented associates, with Thirlby acting as Chairman. The company produces about 600 large-type titles per year for Ulverscroft Large Print Books Limited and Isis Publishing Limited, both British large print publishers. The company prints the book jackets, primarily produced as Printed Paper Cases (PPCs), which are laminated, and then glued to the boards that form the case of the book. W&G also designs and prints inlays that go into library cases for unabridged audio books as well as covers for paperback books, and produces brochures for the publishers. Prior to acquiring its DI press, the company was either outsourcing color printing for runs over 250, or using its in-house digital color press to produce shorter runs. According to Thirlby, “The idea was to extend what we could do on the digital color press, which is restricted by the cost involved for run lengths in excess of 250. It was the increasing need to produce runs of more than 250 that caused us to add the DI press.” Words and Graphics believes, as does Presstek, that the most important part of its operation is its customers, and that quality of product and on-time delivery at a fair price are expected by customers and are non-negotiable. With that in mind, Words and Graphics differentiates itself by providing outstanding customer service. At the heart of this philosophy is a genuine effort on the part of the entire staff both to understand the needs of its customers and potential customers, and to create a customer-supplier partnership. As Thirlby is fond of saying, “The philosophy at Words & Graphics is to place the customer at the heart of the operation and our efforts are aimed at not just satisfying but delighting the customer.” The DI press is adding to W&G’s ability to delight customers by meeting a broader range of requirements – and positioning the company to acquire even more delighted customers in the future.