Print Manager Marc Laucks Collaborates with African Chocolate Producer
Press release from the issuing company
YORK, PA, December 8, 2008?The owners of Madécasse, a new chocolate company based in Madagascar off the eastern coast of Africa, are thrilled they happened to meet York, PA-based print manager Marc Laucks at the recent Fancy Food Show in New York City. With his educational approach to client collaboration, Laucks carefully walked Madécasse's owners, who are new to the printing world, successfully through the major project of producing chocolate bar wrappers - a sophisticated and expensive enterprise fraught with many potential problems - just in time to introduce their gourmet chocolate bars to the world for this year's holiday season.
Taking the extra time to explain each part of the process in great detail, including the ramifications for printing and cost, Laucks patiently brought his client up to speed. McCollum explains: "Part of it had to do with our learning curve. We had never gone through this before, and there was obviously a dictionary's worth of words we weren't familiar with. We don't get this type of consultative approach from printers. Marc is a good educator; he takes the time to explain things and makes recommendations based on his expertise. In my experience that's very rare, and I don't think anyone else really works the way he does in that regard."
Laucks feels that educating the client serves several parties in the long run?the client, the print shop and, ultimately, himself. By clarifying processes and laying out each step, Laucks is developing educated consumers of printing.
"An educated buyer of anything is a better buyer," he says, "so I feel it's important, given the complexity of the printing world, to take time to teach my clients. There are a lot of people who buy print who don't understand all that it entails."
According to Laucks, working with clients who aren't experienced in buying print is like working with someone who doesn't speak your language. The client may say he understands, but because you're communicating in different languages, it's possible he doesn't. "In my experience," states Laucks, "most mistakes happen on the part of the buyer, but the buyer doesn't realize that so the printer gets blamed."
An early challenge for Madécasse was the choice of paper for the wrappers. Because of numerous choices, alternatives regarding the weight of the paper, paper finish, printing method, and other possibilities, there were 70 options for which printers had to develop quotes. Understandably, some printers refused to develop a quote for the complex request for bid. To save the client additional money, Laucks moved the printing function from New York City to Pennsylvania, reducing the cost per wrapper by nearly 30%. By leveraging his own printing discounts as a print manager and by helping the clients choose a paper based on his knowledge of printing and chocolate packaging, Laucks helped bring the print job in on target. At the same time, he was able to have the paper and printing choices convey the value Madécasse needed for a premium chocolate bar that retails for as much as $7.00.
Then, Laucks caught an oversight - a missing white box around the UPC barcode on the final press-ready files. Without this white space, retailers would try, in vain, to scan Madécasse's gourmet chocolate bars. In all likelihood the whole printing job would have had to be redone. Madécasse principal Tim McCollum says, "Marc prevented an enormous headache. It's almost unfathomable; basically he saved our project."
Perhaps the most intimidating challenge was the project's deadline - within days of finalizing the printing choices the wrappers had to be shipped 8,000 miles away. "So much of their entrance into the marketplace was riding on the timely completion of this print job," says Laucks. Knowing the client's perception of color was very unique, Laucks cleared his schedule. He went to the print shop to personally supervise each step. With the completed wrappers in his car, he drove halfway to New York City to meet the client who then delivered the wrappers to the loading dock at New York harbor. Eight thousand miles away, the production factory received the wrappers in time to make the holiday introduction deadline.
When asked if all of the extra effort was worth it, Laucks say yes: "I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of being involved in a meaningful project, such as one that makes a significant social contribution." In this case, the Madécasse project fits in with Laucks' convictions about sustainability. The company, rather than purchasing cacao beans cheaply from farmers, made a conscious decision to improve the lives of the people of Madagascar. Madécasse set up the entire production ? from bean to chocolate bar ? on the island, thereby generating four times more economic activity and imparting valuable skills to the country's people.
Laucks, a sought-after speaker on green issues and the environmental impact of printing and paper, knew this client would be a perfect fit. He concludes, "Along with everything else, my love for chocolate lets me really appreciate the final product, it's an exceptional bar."
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