LEWISBURG, Tenn. - It can be said that ink truly runs in the Hawkins family bloodline. The Hawkins clan's ownership of Lewisburg Printing Co. in Lewisburg, Tenn., extends back four generations, and generational pride is evident in the focus on service over the entire life of a document.
Lewisburg Printing has strengthened its large-format capabilities with the installation of a 56-inch Mitsubishi Diamond 6000LX sheetfed press.
"The new Mitsubishi press further validates Lewisburg Printing's commitment to long-term growth through the investment in printing technology," said Hale Hawkins, CEO.
The six-color press prints 14,000 sheets per hour and handles a maximum paper thickness of 0.040 inches. Featuring an Air Motion Systems P3 ultraviolet (UV) curing system, the press can deliver printed sheets with aqueous and UV coatings.
"We've had really good success with Mitsubishi presses," said Hawkins, whose full name is Thomas Hale Hawkins IV. "We also operate two older 40-inch Mitsubishi presses -& ;a six-color and a seven-color -& ;with aqueous coaters. We run production work on them every day. They're incredible workhorses. Mitsubishi presses just keep running. That's why we bought the new Mitsubishi. We knew exactly the kind of quality and reliability we could expect."
From the newspaper business to the commercial printing business, Lewisburg Printing is a local success story. Hawkins' great-grandfather, Thomas Hale Hawkins Sr., founded a newspaper company in 1898 to publish the Marshall Gazette and, later, the Marshall County Shopper and Lewisburg Tribune. Lewisburg Printing Co. was created when the newspaper operation branched out into commercial printing in 1950. Lewisburg Printing sold its newspaper interests in 2005.
"The commercial side really took off in the 1960s, printing manuals and tags for manufacturers," Hawkins said.
Lewisburg Printing has steadily amassed production capacity to service clients in the retail, manufacturing, food processing and educational markets. After buying Brandeau Printing in 2004, Lewisburg Printing moved that firm's large-format equipment from Nashville to Lewisburg the following year. Then squarely in the large-format printing niche, Lewisburg Printing made packaging-related work the driving force in its business trajectory.
"We'd been in the can label and spot box label business," Hawkins said. "The larger format increased our sales in that area."
With 95 employees and a 70,000-square-foot facility, Lewisburg Printing provides cut and stack labels, top sheets for corrugated packaging, short-run and digital printing, point-of-purchase displays and a growing portfolio of large-format projects. The company's revenues have increased 40 percent since 2005.
The Diamond 6000LX's 56-inch format proved a good fit between the printer's 40-inch and 73-inch presses.
"We usually run paper up to 24-point board on Diamond 6000LX," Hawkins said. "The press offers quick makereadies and low waste. Makereadies on new jobs and reprints are very fast thanks to the built-in automation and the X-Rite IntelliTrax auto scanning system. The press comes up to full color in as few as 200 sheets."
Quick turnarounds on large-format jobs are the company's strong suit. The average turnaround is three days. Many times, orders are received in the morning and shipped to customers the same day.
"If a customer asks us to print the job in a certain amount of time or investigate a new process, we work hard to print it and get it out the door," Hawkins said. "A lot of customers were interested in seeing us adopt UV printing, which we implemented with the Diamond 6000LX."
Hawkins estimated that UV projects could add 20 percent to sales in the next year.
"We are very excited to be able to provide in-house UV," he said. "In the past, we either outsourced UV work or declined the jobs due to the time and cost involved with sending them out to be UV coated. UV opens up numerous possibilities for different applications and substrates. A large number of customers have UV jobs they would be happy to give us."