Dreamworks Graphic Communications is a printing industry success story. The company was founded by Dan Luka and Norm Friedman in 2010 in the middle of a recession and within three years was generating $19 million in annual revenues. The company focuses on high-end collateral, packaging and point-of-purchase materials and also offers special effects coatings on unique substrates.
“Norm had owned two other printing companies in the past,” explains John Perkins, EVP at the company, “and came out of retirement to do it again a third time in partnership with Dan. We put together what we feel is the best company in printing with the experience and quality of our 60 people and our advanced production portfolio.”
Dreamworks recently purchased a new 45,000-square-foot building that was designed specifically for its purposes. “Our motto is ‘we are the future of print,’ Perkins says. “With that in mind, when the HP Indigo 10000 was announced, we didn’t want to be a laggard. We already had digital presses, but the larger sheet size would enable us to expand the range of jobs we could produce digitally.”
Dreamworks installed its new HP Indigo 10000 in its new facility in April of 2015. “Before making this investment, we reassessed our entire production portfolio to ensure we had the right pieces in place for a profitable future,” Perkins adds. “We had an opportunity to sell one of our three offset presses, one conventional and two UV. An analysis of our job mix showed that we really didn’t need that conventional offset press once we had the HP Indigo 10000 installed. Digital is the future of print, although there will still be a need for offset for the foreseeable future.”
Perkins cites small poster jobs as an example of work that transitioned from offset to digital. “We found that we could produce four-color aqueous-coated posters on the Indigo 10000 in runs of 3,000 for about 40% of what it would cost to produce them on offset,” he says. “We were not competitive at the offset price. If you have a major customer that loves doing business with you, unless you can be competitive in price, quality and service, you will lose them because they are under pressure to keep costs in line. And when you lose them on that one job, it gives the competitor one foot in the door they didn’t have before. We certainly didn’t want that to happen, and the HP Indigo 10000 gave us a great option for affordable shorter runs with very fast turn times. It is our belief that if we hadn’t made this move, it could cost us our business within five years.”
The company also utilizes the HP SmartStream Suite on almost every job for exporting PDF’s or JLT’s from InDesign. According to Bill Stow, the company’s prepress manager, “The imposition function is very user friendly and the variable interface is very easy to use and extremely functional. The ability to import PDF’s into InDesign and add text or variable has come in handy many times. SmartStream is a great addition to our software arsenal."
Dreamworks customers are comprised of agencies and design firms (50%), corporate work (20%), with the balance being trade work.
An advantage of the large sheet size and added capabilities of the HP Indigo 10000 is that it has given Dreamworks a buzz in the industry. “It gives us an edge over others,” Perkins says. “Its white ink is better than what we can do on our UV offset presses. Even with two or three hits, the UV white ink is still not as opaque as the Indigo white ink, and the cost is less. People are blown away when they see samples on holographic and silver foil stocks, and red and black substrates. We can put 5x5” and 5x7” pieces multiple up on the Indigo 10000 for a 10,000-piece run for half of what it would cost us to produce it on offset and get amazingly better quality.”
Perkins has found that there is still a need for customer education about the benefits of digital. “A lot of folks still have an idea that digital is low quality and that you can see the difference. When we show them the quality and tell them they can produce just 500 instead of thousands, they are impressed. When we quote, we give them both prices, offset and digital, and let them make the decision. In 99 out of 100 cases for the cost savings and equivalent quality, the choice is easy.”
Dreamworks also leverages both offset and digital for hybrid work. One example is a 30,000 run of a 38-page catalog that was run on offset with soft-touch substrate and spot UV. “We were able to mimic the same look and feel for a follow-up postcard on a silk stock with two or three hits of HP Indigo clear ink,” Perkins says. “The postcards and catalogs look almost identical and it was a huge cost savings for them on the postcards. We are at our best with the versatility of both technologies where they complement each other.”
Perkins concludes, “The HP Indigo 10000 has been a game-changer for us with respect to turnaround time, pricing and the flexibility of what we can produce.”