Gurnee, IL -- Rich Stevens says his family owned company prides itself on being a service oriented small format shop. Making it work requires a well-run operation with good people and knowing how to find the right solution. When Stevens realized in 2007 that he could save on ink costs and increase uptime on his presses, he purchased an Mx-6 Ink Formulation Dispenser from GFI Innovations. Two years later, Stevens Printing not only has solidified its reputation as the best place for quick turnaround work on Portland’s southeast side, but is flexible to accept more work on short notice.
“The Mx6 is helping us save our necks in a down economy,” Stevens said. “We have two production meetings a day and there are occasions where a press is not scheduled for work the next day. If a job comes in later that afternoon, we scramble and get it on press the next day. That’s where this dispenser helps. We’re not ticking off an ink company with a low pay rush job and our press operator gets to work a full day because we’ll usually get other jobs through the door. How do you put a value on that?
Although the lions’ share of their business is local, Stevens Printing (www.stevensprinting.com) is not just a neighborhood print shop. Rich and his twin brother Dave run the business, a start-up by their father in 1977 and Rich joined his father in 1989 after graduating from Portland State University. He took over the business in 2000 and now manages Operations. Dave joined the business in 2003 and runs the Sales end. The pair run a company that employs 24 people and offers an on-line ordering service to customers while also catering to some national accounts with roots based in Oregon.
The Stevens brothers have adopted an aggressive approach in their search for business. The typical offset run is around 2,500 pieces and nothing is off limits when it comes to impossible deadlines.
“We sell ourselves as the best small format printer in Portland. Anything below the half-size and 40-inch shops but above the small quick printing type firms,” Rich Stevens said. “Our work is across-the-board, from business cards to corporate brochures and everything in between. We do work for a number of public institutions, plus we are a direct provider for designers and some small businesses and do printing for brokers and large printing companies. When people need short run, high quality work, they call us.”
Stevens said servicing the customer is important but it impacts the company directly and indirectly. “Our belief is service is as equal as price. We are a value-added company and sometimes we lose business because of our price,” said Stevens. “But it has allowed us to develop a critical and unique niche in the market that has added to our reputation. People know we jump through hoops to get the work done.”
“Because we are a small format shop, we have a need to create custom colors for jobs. In the past, we had a choice with ink mixing. We could hand mix it and have one of press operators do it, but that would take them away from running a press. We could also buy ink from an ink company but obviously they were not wild about getting small custom orders from us. My brother and I looked at the cost of ink, plus took into account the costs of downtime and figured that time was costing us an average of one job per day. When you look at it over the course of a month or a year, it adds up.”
In late 2006, Stevens visited a competitor shop to see a 40-inch press and wound up seeing an ink dispensing machine. Rich and Dave did some research and found the cost was prohibitive. They then read a trade magazine article about the Mx6 Ink Formulation Dispenser from GFI Innovations that had just won an InterTech Award for innovation. At the time, Stevens Printing was spending $60,000 a year in custom ink matches. After crunching numbers with GFI’s director of marketing, John Borkovec, Rich realized his ROI would provide both fiscal control and the ability to mix inks more accurately.
“The Mx6 is a very efficient and reliable machine. Soon after we bought it, we cut the amount of ink and mixing on a time convenience basis,” Rich said. “It is much more accurate that I ever imagined. In more than two years, we’ve had only one issue with the carousel aligning itself after mixing the ink, but all we did was move it to the guide mark and we haven’t had a problem since.”
Judging by the amount and type of work they do, Rich says it’s the perfect machine for his shop.
“Typically we mix one pound of ink at a time for 95 percent of our jobs. The most we’ve ever done is mix 20 pounds one time for a job. The nice thing about this machine is you don’t have to overestimate and it gives us much more flexibility. It has helped us re-examine how we generate our work and revenue.”
GFI Innovations leads the industry in Ink Formulation Dispensing, including its patented Mx Series technologies. The company offers a range of dispensing systems and accessories for paste inks, along with advanced software for ink formulation and inventory management. For more information, contact Bob Wolff with The Drucker Group at 312.867.4960.
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