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Peoria Journal Star goes from Goss to GEOMAN with an expanded plant and a slimmer format

Press release from the issuing company

Peoria, Illinois — The Peoria Journal Star has moved up from a 50-year-old Goss letterpress to a digitally controlled GEOMAN from MAN Roland, which is empowering the paper to significantly increase its color content, while slimming down its format to a more accessible size. The changeover, which occurred on October 25th, inaugurated a new 66,000 sq ft expansion of the Journal Star’s production facility. It also launched a slimmer broadsheet format for the paper that’s more manageable for readers and more efficient in terms of paper costs. “The installation went much better than I thought it would go, given the sophistication and the capabilities of the GEOMAN,” says Paul Bullock, the newspaper’s Production Director. “The entire changeover was completed as planned in one day.” The GEOMAN was ready to roll five weeks earlier so Bullock could schedule some quality time with their new system for his press crews. On September 15th, they began printing the paper’s Friday real estate section on the GEOMAN, utilizing the press’ ability to handle the tabloid format. Then they added broadsheet inserts to their repertoire, all leading up to the October 25th start-up. Bullock credits MAN Roland’s technical and training experts for the smooth transition: “More than two years ago, when I recommended that we purchase a MAN Roland press, my decision was based on the quality of the press and the quality of the people that I had met from MAN Roland. Their performance throughout the project has reaffirmed my decision and exceeded my expectations.” The Journal Star’s new GEOMAN is configured in six towers, three on each side of a double-couple 80-page jaw folder system. Four of them are 4/4 and two are 4/1. The folder superstructure is equipped with five former boards, two up and three down, and a double-out delivery. Two of the GEOMAN’s towers can be split to increase paging to 64 pages, when running straight. The former system and double-folder also are equipped with a splitting feature that allows the production of two different products running at different speeds. This feature permits the paper to produce special tab sections independently, though simultaneously, with the main section. That eliminates the need to preprint tabloid components and insert them separately. GEOMAN also facilitates more cost effective production of preprinted sections for insertion in the paper’s weekend editions. The Journal Star, which is a Copley property, boasts a Sunday circulation of 100,000 with 230,000 readers and a daily circulation of 72,000 with 165,500 readers. The paper actively promoted its upgrade to more color content and a more accessible format. An integrated marketing campaign included radio and television spots and the production of two special inserts. Those extra sections detailed the expansion of the Journal Star’s production facility and the installation of its more color-friendly press. “Most of our advertisers are real happy with the increased color opportunities GEOMAN offers,” Bullock notes. “We recently conducted an Open House to introduce them to our new capabilities, and I didn’t hear a single negative comment. They are all extremely excited about it.” Particularly pleased are the Journal Star’s smaller advertisers who before the arrival of the GEOMAN were shut out from the persuasive power of color ads. “We’re created a ‘color by the inch’ logo and our sales reps are handing out promotional tape measures to get word out about this new capability,” Bullock remarks. “Before only large display advertisers could specify color. The GEOMAN lets everyone take advantage of the benefits.” In conjunction with the arrival of the GEOMAN, the paper also updated its prepress and its mailroom operations. Western Lithotech was tapped to engineer a changeover to a computer-to-plate workflow. And GMA installed its new SLS3000 high-speed inserters and a Muller Martini buffering system in a complete revamp of the Journal Star’s mailroom. But it was the installation of the GEOMAN that impressed Bullock the most: “It takes a special group of people to build a press, move it half-way around the world, and bring it to life. It is a monumental task, one that they have performed with expertise and ease. The really surprising part for me is the fun we have all enjoyed while we were doing it. Their ability to communicate with and understand the needs of the customer has allowed us to achieve our common goal with uncommon cooperation.” MAN Roland offers a similar perspective on the start-up. “The Peoria Star Journal has a 149-year heritage of excellence,” says Vincent H. Lapinski, COO of Web Operations at MAN Roland Inc. “We are thrilled to be its production partner for another century and a half of world-class journalism.”