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Best Foot Forward

July 2000
Meldisco's in-plant prints for three retail shoe chains—and insources to boot.

MIKE KAPLAN loves challenging his in-plant. As if Meldisco Printing Services wasn't busy enough tackling nearly 5,000 jobs a year for three major shoe chains, Kaplan also finds the time to insource more than $100,000 of business each year.

"It's been working out great for years," he says.

Kaplan started insourcing eight years ago when Meldisco—the Mahwah, N.J., company that owns and operates all of K-Mart's shoe departments—was a division of the Melville Corp. He printed for Melville divisions that did not have in-plants.

"I saw the opportunity to generate income and lower my fixed operating expenses," Kaplan reveals. He knew insourcing was a great way to save money, so even after Melville disbanded in the fall of 1996, Kaplan continued to insource work. He reports that simple word-of-mouth keeps business coming.

"Meldisco gives quality work at low cost," he proudly states.

Meldisco Printing Services provides work for at least six regular customers including Ramapo College and Sheraton Hotels.

In late 1996, Meldisco spun off with fellow Melville survivor Footaction to form Footstar. The company purchased Just For Feet this past February.

Meldisco Print Services handles roughly 75 percent of the printing for all three divisions under Footstar's umbrella. To compensate for the extra printing work sparked by the growth of the company, the in-plant added a two-color Ryobi 3200 press in May. Within the next year, it plans to add a four-color press and direct-to-film/plate technology.

One Busy In-plant

The 19-employee in-plant provides graphic design and printing of 1.5 million four-color K-Mart signs per week, multi-color stationery, posters, memos and brochures. It also handles all of Footstar's data center printing and company reports totaling nearly a million sheets per month. Almost all jobs require less than a three-day turnaround.

Kaplan—Meldisco's printing operations manager for 10 years, and an in-plant manager for 23—feels that specialized jobs like wide-format printing and diecutting are better and more economically done out-of-shop.

"I'm geared to do what we're good at and what the retail business needs," he explains. "Once you get out of that realm, you get into trouble."

How does Kaplan find time for his busy in-plant to insource?

"The key of insourcing work is managing it," he says. He won't insource anything that his in-plant can't handle. He charges the customer for any overtime accrued by his staff, so it doesn't come out of Footstar's pocket.
 

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