As a full-service bindery, Eckhart & Company offers a wide variety of production options, products, and capabilities to create unique, compelling books and presentation materials. Just recently, I oversaw the installation of a BF 513 Bookline at their facility. I sat down with Chris Eckhart, President of Eckhart & Company, to discuss how the installation went and what motivated him to make this latest investment in his company.
To what do you owe your longevity in the business?
Eckhart & Company is a very customer-driven organization. Over the past one hundred and three years, we’ve grown our company by identifying and meeting the needs of our customers. Our longevity can be attributed to our ability to identify changes and trends in the industry and make the capital investments to address these needs so we can better serve our customers.
Although we were already very strong in the bookbinding services, some of our customers also required hardcover binding. There are also quite a few book manufacturers and regional Midwest book manufacturers that we did not have relationships with.
For various reasons, the book market has been strong, but it had not been a core service we provided. Given the opportunities we saw in that space, we wanted to play ball there. And if we were going to play ball, we needed to make some upgrades to the equipment. That was when we decided to invest in a new BF513 hardcover line. With the BF 513, we can now provide additional products and services to our existing and new customers.
How was your experience working with the Müller Martini support team?
You can’t just flip a switch and watch it go after the installation of a large, sophisticated piece of equipment like the BF 513. It requires weeks of installation, with a lot of tweaking. So much support goes into making sure it runs correctly. The Müller Martini team was with us all the way. They made the necessary tweaks getting the machine installed correctly. More importantly, they were with us for quite a bit of time after the installation process, making sure that we were comfortable with using the machine as it was intended to be used. They ensured that we were able to get the efficiency out of the machine that we, in fact, bought the machine to realize.
When the team left and we were on our own, we were well prepared from the training and support that they had given us, which by the way is one of the reasons why I prefer to buy new pieces of equipment. It’s not just about the automation and the technology that comes from it. Often overlooked is the support, training, and expertise that you get from buying a new piece of equipment.
What does the BF 513 Bookline offer that you did not have before?
In an industry that is as capital intensive and labor intensive as ours, the path forward in terms of profitability and surviving is to invest in automation. The older equipment used to take hours to makeready. With the BF 513, makeready is much quicker, the finished book quality is better, and production speeds are faster. We get more throughput, and what’s most impressive is that we accomplish all this with less labor.
With our increased productivity and the ability to handle the demand of shorter run books, we can better serve our customers, and at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about. Our customers recognize that our investment in the BF513 Bookline is an investment in their success.