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Chicago Based, Universal Press Invests in a Solution for Short Runs

Press release from the issuing company

January 18, 2002 - Universal Press is a print company which thinks and produces in classical fashion in 3B (40") format. With 168 employees, the "Chicago-area commercial printer" in the "commercial sheetfed business", as Jory A. Siegel, President and CEO of Universal Press Inc. describes his operation, earned around 26 mill. US $ last year. Over the past few years, business has developed outstandingly well for Siegel, who bought the company back in the 1970s. He noticed, however, that the market was not always willing to repay the high hourly rates and labor costs for the large printing presses and that the situation was becoming ever more difficult today in this respect.   The pressrooms of the company in the north-east of Chicago accommodate several 2 to 6-color offset presses from Komori, Mitsubishi and Miller for the 40-inch (70 x 100 cm) format. What the company is lacking is press capacity in the half-size format, which would enable it to handle the increasingly shorter jobs more efficiently. Investment in a half-format press was imperative. "We were having to print these jobs on the 40-inch presses," said Siegel. The products which Universal Press prints for its customers include brochures, catalogs, program guides, annual reports, user manuals, calendars, bound books, presentation folders, direct mailings and product inserts. Siegel on the strengths of his company: "Our great strength is our unique equipment mix. This enables us to work together with the most varied industries and customer groups and generally also to meet their demands with regard to print and finishing as a one-stop supplier." Universal Press had already gained positive experience with printing presses "made in Germany" with its Miller TP 104. The decisive factor in favor of the Karat, however, was for Siegel the convincing overall concept of the 74 Karat. The Universal team already mastered the handling of digital data. In the winding maze of corridors and production halls there is not only a "Karat Suite" but also a "Digimaster Suite". The year 2000 saw the start of work to expand the production facilities. Universal Press first bought a production hall a few streets away as a new home for the finishing and dispatch departments. This freed up several thousand square meters of floor space in the print factory itself. Another important point for Jory. A. Siegel is that the whole production process will be based in a single building. The new hall represents an investment volume of 50 mill. US$ for the company. Marketing director Amy Brinkmann: "Our customers appreciate the fact that we are able to offer so many different services. This includes both full prepress services and the finishing of all products, including die-cutting. In this way we are able to guarantee our customers total control over the project. Our customers like to see us at the head of technical developments. This gives them the confidence that we are constantly looking for means to enhance the workflow and generate additional product value."   The short makeready time on the press and the implementation of a color management system in the 74 Karat concept produce precisely these advantages for the workflow. Siegel comments: "With the 74 Karat we are very fast. The operator waits no more than six sheets before he can take a saleable print from the press. It is also new for us to be able to run a printing press with just one operator. The 40" presses always required higher manning levels. Compared to conventional presses we need only a third of the production time. In half a shift we handle an average of five jobs." At Universal, as with many successful printers, customer service is given absolute priority. The front office is open around the clock, and production runs in three shifts over 24 hours on at least five days a week. With the 74 Karat the company is further consolidating its position at the head of the printing branch in Illinois. Universal has been able to collect numerous awards and prizes over the years, including, in 2000 alone, 16 awards in the "Gallery of Superb Printing" of the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen, the PIA Premier Print Award, and various awards from suppliers and customers, for example an award from lamination foil and gluing suppliers Avery Dennison for its binding department and a "Partnership in Growth" award from Universal customer Motorola for outstanding achievement. Universal received the latter not only on account of its constant high print quality, but also for the continuous reductions in the turnaround times for work. In January 2000 Universal Print became one of just 40 printing companies in the State of Illinois to achieve certification to ISO 9002. The company was also one of the first to be accepted into the "Illinois Great Printer Project". This project of the State of Illinois has been running since 1996 and is aimed at improving environmental protection in the industry. The award honors the results achieved within the framework of the project. To date, a mere 3 to 4 per cent of the 1122 print enterprises in Illinois have qualified for the award. Universal produces without alcohol and prints with mineral-oil-free inks, the so-called "soy-based inks", i.e. printing inks on a soja-oil basis. All production wastage can be passed on for recycling without exception.