West Caldwell, NJ – When a majority of the work you do is for retail customers with products that are sold at department and big box stores, ‘tis the season to be busy. Graphic Arts Studio in northwest suburban Chicago realized they needed to upgrade their finishing department in advance of this year’s holiday season. That’s why they chose to install a rebuilt 45-inch Polar paper cutter with a jogger system from Colter & Peterson six months ago.
The Polar machine replaced an older and slightly larger Wohlenberg paper cutter that GAS used for digital large format jobs. Although they have two other same-size Polar cutters, the purchase represented the first time GAS did business with Colter & Peterson, North America’s largest independent distributor of paper cutters and paper handling equipment.
“We had our digital large format work covered and needed a machine that could support the other categories,” remarked Curt Haug, Vice President of Sales who has worked for the company 24 years. “I was in New Jersey seeing a customer and stopped by Colter & Peterson’s facility. I had a conversation with Regional Sales Manager Sean Solomon, and that led to doing this deal.”
After 32 years, Graphic Arts Studio has established itself with national customers and drop ships products around the globe. One of their largest accounts is Ulta Beauty, the cosmetics chain with 1200 stores that is headquartered in nearby Bolingbrook. GAS handles a wide variety of work for them, ranging from store displays and 200 different signs to weekly kits.
They also produce Point-of-Sale for Crate & Barrel, with many of the jobs falling within the 40-inch category. Haug says that’s where the rebuilt Polar cutter and jogger is making a difference.
“The machine has performed very well and productivity is up significantly with the jogger,” said Haug. “The operator just needs to slide the paper from the left side and once it is done, the paper on the right is ready to slide into place. Having the six-inch stack lift means it can cut a lot of paper all at one time.”
It could not have come at a better time. Haug said they began ramping up production in mid-August to prepare for the holiday season and things won’t slow down until 2018 arrives.
“We’ve experienced double-digit growth in nine of the last 10 years. The only year we missed was in 2008 due to the recession, but we still did more business than the previous year,” recalled Haug.
Graphic Arts Studio is a split operation with 75 employees. Headquarters are in Barrington, where the front office shares space with the offset operation and both 2-color and 6-color Heidelberg presses. The larger, 50,000 square-foot facility is only a few minutes away in Cary.
The Cary location houses large and small format digital equipment, including two HP Indigo 7600 and a pair of Xante presses. It’s also home for the bindery and the rebuilt Polar, which Haug says is getting a workout with the other cutters. GAS runs two shifts, six days a week for most of the year. Two operators handle the cutters on the day shift and two others man it on the late shift.
Graphic Arts Studio is a Benny award-winning printer. They also have been recognized for their work with folders, service catalogues, soft cover books and others. No matter the type of job, Haug says the rebuilt Polar cutter is getting fed often.
“We did a large project recently and it cut 275,000 sheets of paper in about a day-and-a-half,” said Haug. “The sheets were 19-inches by 38-inches and the book cover was on 130-pound stock, so it was rather thick. Adding this cutter is a huge benefit for us.”