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KBA large-format perfector added at Branch-Smith Printing

Press release from the issuing company

July 16, 2007 -- KBA North America, a leading press manufacturer based in Williston, Vt., is announcing that Branch-Smith Printing, an award-winning family-owned printer of publications, catalogs, and books based in Fort Worth, Texas, has added a new KBA Rapida 130 51-inch eight-color four-over-four perfector press, the first of its kind in the US with a roll sheeter. The firm installed the 100-foot long press in mid-February 2007 as part of a $9 million expansion. The fast-growing nationwide printer is posting exceptional sales volume; in 2006 annual sales were $14 million; this year the firm plans to exceed $20 million in annual sales.
“We are thrilled with the press,” says Daniel Hanson, vice president and general manager of Branch-Smith. “Everything about it--its automation, intelligence, and engineering---is designed to run extremely well. The print quality is exceptional. We’ve found that the large format press holds ink and water balance better than any press we’ve ever owned. This had to be proven to me because we’ve only had one other press manufacturer for 24 years. This is our first KBA. But we are producing better quality off of our KBA press than the other press manufacturer.”
Unique press differentiates fast-growing printer
The installation of the new KBA 51-inch four-over-four perfector press differentiates Branch-Smith from its competitors due to the uniqueness of the press. This is the first eight-color press equipped with an inline roll sheeter, which gives Branch-Smith the capability to cut its own stock using less costly rolls of paper stock rather than more expensive cut stock. In addition, the fact that it is a large format perfector makes it the fourth KBA installation in North America, of which there are only 20 in the world.
“The large format press size was important to us,” says Hanson. “It gives us the ability to print a high-end sheetfed product but due to the size we can run twice as many signature pages per sheet. Now we can print 32 pages instead of 16.”
Hanson describes the new press as a robust machine that was quickly and efficiently installed by KBA allowing the firm to start production soon after installation. Today, the firm is giving non-stop customer press tours and gaining new work from existing and new customers. Within a few weeks of installation, Branch-Smith had the press running 70% to 75% of capacity.
Bindery and prepress equipment augment new press
The firm’s $9 million expansion also included new large-format prepress and bindery equipment. Being a publication, catalog, and book printer requires Branch-Smith to have a fast, highly-automated bindery. The expansion allowed the firm to double the size of its bindery, adding three new folders, an additional Muller Martini saddlestitcher and binder, and a 61-inch cutter. Today the bindery is comprised of two perfect binders, two saddlestitchers, seven folders, along with automatic cutting machines and packaging systems. In the prepress area, Branch-Smith installed a new Kodak Magnus VLF platesetter. Branch-Smith also expanded its sales force to handle the influx of new business.
Preparing for the installation became a huge, but satisfying, undertaking. Branch-Smith is housed in a 70,000 sq ft solid-concrete facility built in 1909. In order to install the new press on the first floor of its three-story facility, Branch-Smith spent over one week excavating 400 square yards of dirt and concrete to provide the required 13-foot clearance for the press. Twenty dump trucks were employed to clear the debris. Structural and foundation engineers were hired to ensure that the press and the firm’s building were correctly positioned. While the press console is level with the rest of the plant, the press itself is 16.5 inches lower than the rest of the pressroom. The area for the new press received 18 inches of concrete to support the weight of the heavy press.
“Large format is a big investment and a big risk,” says Hanson. “You can’t be timid. We wanted to ensure that the installation of a 350,000 pound press was done correctly.”
Branch-Smith Printing is a fourth-generation family-owned business, based in Fort Worth since its inception in 1910. The company provides full-service printing for corporate and publication customers and specializes in bound materials such as magazines, directories, catalogs, and books. The company’s staff is 85 to 115, depending on the season.
Award-winning printer
In 2002, Branch-Smith Printing was awarded the 2002 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The coveted Baldrige Award is the nation’s premier award for performance excellence and quality achievement. Branch-Smith Printing was recognized in the small business category.
The award is the business world’s most prestigious honor, named after the former Secretary of Commerce. It was established in 1987 in response to competitive threats by perceived higher levels of quality in the Japanese automotive industry, to recognize American companies that achieved the highest standards in quality. The award is presented annually although not necessarily in every category to companies with exemplary achievements in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and results.