Colorado's Vision Graphics evolves into a total marketing communications provider with a range of MAN Roland presses
Press release from the issuing company
September 5th 2007 -- The goal of any progressive commercial printer today is to serve its customers more effectively by becoming a total marketing communications provider. But where to begin? The evolution of Vision Graphics could be used as a blueprint for success.
It Begins in the Pressroom
The company started as a half size printer, but as soon as it built a 24,000 sq ft facility in Loveland, Colorado in 1998, it began broadening its horizons. A six-color ROLAND 700, a 41-inch press complete with inline coating, was installed as the centerpiece of the operation.
"Our business grew quickly, thanks to the productivity of the ROLAND 700. So much so, that we soon discovered we needed a second one," says Mark Steputis, Vision Graphics' President.
But instead of acquiring another 700 from MAN Roland, Vision Graphics stepped up to a 56-inch ROLAND 900 — a six-color with coater — in 1999. That was the year when larger format sheetfed presses were just coming back into vogue. "Moving to large format presses back then was somewhat risky in terms of not being sure of what the payback would be. But the results show that was very smart move," says Steputis, noting that by 2001 he had to double the size of his Loveland facility to accommodate the growing business.
Vision retained one of its original half-size presses — a 28-inch machine — but the system was lacking speed and short on automation. So in 2004, the company replaced it with the ROLAND 500 and also installed a new two-color ROLAND 700. Then earlier this year, Vision added variable data printing (VDP) to its capabilities, installing a new Xerox iGen3 and XMPie uProduce software.
But it is the four MAN Roland presses — the 500, the two 700s and the 900 — that continue to be the foundation of Vision's success. "With the ROLAND 900, we have some capabilities that are unique," Steputis says of his largest system. "It gives the design community greater latitude for their creativity. They can opt for more foldouts or produce larger pieces, like posters and other oversize formats to attract attention."
The productivity of the ROLAND 900, which features computer-driven makereadies and a 13,000 sheet per hour production speed, is another major business builder. "We can move up the ladder into the web press range, because the larger format let's us put more on sheet. So in the same timeframe we get more done, twice as much as a 40-inch facility."
Vision Graphics also bids and wins against facilities that run long perfectors with its straight-printing 900. "It can print just as fast as they can. But the advantage we have with the large format press is that we can print both sides without encountering the quality problems associated with perfecting."
At the other end of the spectrum is Vision Graphics' ROLAND 500. "Having the 29-inch press keeps us competitive on the smaller runs," Stepitus remarks. "And because it's a UV machine, the ROLAND 500 adds another capability to our repertoire. That minimizes the overhead costs of applying UV because we're doing it on a smaller machine."
Speed is another factor, according to Steputis: "The fact that the ROLAND 500 prints at the rate of 18,000 sheets per hour means that it's nearly as productive as a 40-inch machine. Plus, the consumables used are less expensive when you go to a smaller format. So plates, blankets, and even maintenance cost less."
When Vision's two 41-inch ROLAND 700s and its digital printing capabilities are factored in, the company can compete with virtually any other commercial printer in the nation. "Our customers shouldn't care what machine we run their job on or where we are located," Steputis observes. "It's the price, the quality and the turnaround that matters to them."
One-stop shopping is also becoming a customer satisfaction requirement. In 2004, Vision Graphics acquired a mailing house, which has since been fully integrated into the company's operations. That investment is paying dividends in terms of enhancing Vision's role as a full marketing communications provider.
Steputis explains that with corporations trimming their staffs, they no longer have the manpower to manage multiple vendors on a single project. They want a total communications provider like Vision to be responsible for the entire job.
"We have mailing services, large format printing on our ROLAND 900, UV capabilities on our ROLAND 500, fugitive gluing, list brokers, and even creative services," he says. "There is only one printer who has that array of capabilities in this region. And that facility is Vision Graphics."
Creative services is the latest addition to Vision's offerings. The key here, according to Steputis, is to make sure you are not competing against your clients who may happen to be designers or ad agencies. Vision solves the dilemma by restricting its creative work to the Internet and to the direct mail campaigns it prints and distributes.
"We're not trying to design any annual reports or marketing literature," notes Steputis. "We're just trying to create more effective mailings, whether that involves developing a postcard that pulls more because of its design, or designing a unique piece that will increase response rates."
The reward comes in the form of new customers, who without the one-stop shopping convenience of Vision Graphics might not be willing to tackle a direct mail campaign. "They need to get a photographer, then a copywriter, then a designer, then a printer, then a mail house," Steputis says. "It suddenly becomes a very expensive and time-consuming 300-piece mailing. So by being able to bundle it together, we can make it a lot more cost effective and easier, especially for first time mailers."
Vision's new design services are not perceived as a threat to Colorado creatives. In fact, the designers and other agency types are flocking to Vision Graphics for production advice. Example: a well-attended "Printing for Creatives" seminar was conducted recently at the Loveland facility in conjunction with MAN Roland.
"Our customers are facing the same challenges we are being driven by," Steputis states. "They need to produce more work with the same amount of people, at the same or a lower price. Meanwhile, we keep changing the rules on them. We want all the details of job up front, so we can be more accurate with our quote, and we can begin the job as soon as it is awarded. Customers must know the process to understand why we need that information and how it benefits them. That's what MAN Roland's creative seminars do and why they are so important."
One of a few areas to which the integrated approach does not yet apply is packaging. In fact, Vision is proof that a printer doesn't have to invest in packaging production equipment to be a packaging printer. All it takes is the right partners and the right press.
"Thanks to the large format of our ROLAND 900, we are printing for national packaging companies," Steputis says. "We do not die cut, fold or glue packaging. Our partners take care of those steps. That may be something to consider later, but at this stage of the game, due to space issues, we are not doing that now. On the other hand, it wouldn't take much to get us fully into the packaging business."
A more immediate priority for Vision Graphics is to expand its geographic reach. The company's workflow is fully networked from the printnet operating system of its MAN Roland presses to its Kodak InSite customer connection, which equips print buyers to order, track and even proof their jobs over the Internet.
"Even though we are in Colorado and you are in Missouri, we can still work together," Steputis declares. "The customer interface we've built works just as well if you're across the street or across the country. And because of it and systems like our four MAN Roland presses, we're going to do a better job than you can get around the corner."
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.