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KBA North America Installs Rapida 162A 64-Inch Press at The PLM Group

Press release from the issuing company

KBA North America, a leading sheetfed offset press manufacturer based in Williston, Vt., is announcing that The PLM Group, one of Canada’s largest commercial printers located in Markham, Ontario, has installed and is running one of its large-format KBA Rapida 162A 64-inch six-color sheetfed press with coater and extended delivery. The press was installed this past fall at PLM’s Duffield Drive location. “We had been toying with the idea of acquiring a long perfector,” says Dave Stuart, President and COO of the PLM Group. “We were a 40-inch sheetfed shop as well as a half- and full-heatset web facility. We were seeing an erosion of work from our half-web offset presses to long perfectors but we weren’t sure if that type of press was the right move for us. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and increase our share of the market.” As PLM started to research the large format press market, the company honed in on KBA North America’s line of presses and the quality of its equipment. A visit to the company’s plant in Germany was an “eye-opener”, according to Stuart, showing PLM’s management the automation, design, and productivity that a large format press from KBA can bring. PLM was impressed with how well the presses are made by KBA and the quality of the equipment. The trip sealed the deal and the new Rapida 162A six-color sheetfed press with coater and extended delivery began to be built for PLM. The press represented a $6 million investment for PLM. Additional capacity, entry into new markets “The KBA Rapida 162A sheetfed press fills a gap in the PLM product offering and is entirely complimentary to the large format digital printing provided by Optium which we acquired in the summer of 2003,” says Stuart. “While this press provides an entry for PLM into the large format litho market it also provides additional capacity for the work already done on our 40-inch presses and allows us to compete very effectively against the 40-inch 10- and 12-color perfecting presses that have entered the market during the past several years. We have found that our Rapida 162A is equal in productivity to two 40-inch non-perfecting sheetfed presses. The 40-inch machine wasn’t as cost competitive and it was difficult to be as profitable.” The PLM Group has also found that it has been able to differentiate itself from its competitors with the Rapida 162A. “There are not many large format machines in our market,” says Stuart. “For us, it is a more profitable market than the 40-inch sheetfed market. We have one press that has the productivity of two 40-inch non-perfecting machines. I’m sure more printers will see the benefit of installing a large format press.” Stuart also stipulated that the new press be equipped with UV interdeck dryers in order to print on different substrates, such as vinyl and polystyrene. “By having the ability to print of different substrates, we’re no longer a “me-too” printer,” says Stuart. “When clients ask for UV or hybrid specifications on their jobs, there is a premium to be paid for it. It’s a high-gloss, high-quality technique that sets them and their print job apart from the competition.” Naysayers try to point out that large format presses do not have the same rigid quality output as a 40-inch press. To that, The PLM Group emphatically says, “wrong!” Says Stuart, “The quality on our Rapida 162A press is very high; every bit as good as our 40-inch presses. Plus, the sheet size is no problem to handle; some people say you have to factor in the cost of auxiliary equipment, such as skid turners and large format bindery equipment. We haven’t found that to be an obstacle.” Exact press replica greets guests Before the press was even installed, PLM was doing some very unique marketing that involved its new acquisition, Optium. In the fall, PLM invited its customers and potential clients to an open house to introduce its new Rapida 162A 64-inch six-color sheetfed press with coater and extended delivery. But since the press had not arrived yet, PLM asked Optium to build a virtual press for the open house. Using its wide format digital printing capabilities, Optium produced an exact replica of the Rapida 162A with four sides mounted on a wooden frame. Not only did the replica give customers an idea of how big the press would be but PLM acquired actual press sheets from a Rapida 162A and placed them as if they were coming out of the press. Since the press was installed in the fall of 2004, The PLM Group has kept the press very busy. The vast majority of its clients are in southern Ontario with 12% of sales to customers in the U.S. Growth continues by offering its clients a complete roster of high-end services under its roof. For example, pharmaceutical clients release a new drug and hire PLM to produce doctor kits profiling the new drug, advertising, and their annual reports. Direct mail work is produced for such customers as phone companies and financial institutions. Complete and robust product mix “We are committed to providing our customers with a full range of print based solutions utilizing the latest technology,” says Marc Fortier, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at The PLM Group. “This commitment was demonstrated in our acquisition of Mailer Magic and Optium in the first half of 2003 as well as the purchase of our six-color 40-inch press in the fall of 2003. Our recently completed new Digital Services facility in Markham and the addition of our new KBA sheetfed press provides our customers with the most complete and robust product mix available in our served market. In an ever consolidating market, this investment offers PLM a unique opportunity to increase its market share at a time when overall print sales are depressed.”