Church of Scientology Opens New In-plant

This five-color Heidelberg XL 105 is one of two large presses installed in the Church of Scientology’s new 185,000-square-foot International Dissemination and Distribution Center. With it here are Toby Updegrove, plant manager; Owen Varrall, project manager; Jud Posner, pressroom manager; and Nicky Byrne, production manager.

The in-plant’s heavy-duty Muller Martini Primera E140 saddle stitcher is continually busy stitching the millions of publications produced by the in-plant.

An operator collects a plate produced by the Agfa Apogee computer-to-plate system.

The in-plant's five-color Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 with a coater.

Goss web press.

The Church of Scientology's new 185,000-square-foot International Dissemination and Distribution Center, in Commerce, Calif.

By purchasing its own presses and starting a brand new in-plant, the Church of Scientology is now free of the restrictions (and extra costs) imposed on it by commercial printers.

WITH CELEBRITY practitioners like Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its members, Scientology has gotten its share of media attention over the years. The growing church, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954, boasts more than 9,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups worldwide.

To keep its millions of members informed and fulfill its social improvement goals, the church generates a tremendous amount of printed materials—millions of magazines, brochures, direct mail pieces and educational materials each month.

For many years those publications were printed by commercial printers. That all stopped in August, though, when the church opened a massive, 185,000-square-foot in-plant in Commerce, Calif., 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. Called the Church of Scientology International Dissemination and Distribution Center, the new 60-employee in-plant features large web and sheetfed presses, bindery and mail capabilities and even a garment manufacturing operation. It is staffed entirely by church members working two 10-hour shifts.

“It was really a must to set up such a facility that could cater to the scope of the church’s activities,” remarks Jamie McClintock, senior project manager. “No commercial printer had the scope or the range to do all these different products efficiently and cost effectively.”

A Shipshape Shop

Inside the impressively clean and orderly in-plant, employees clad in gray uniforms maneuver skillfully around the large equipment. Around them, the walls are decorated with banners depicting the magazine titles they print, along with artwork showing the different churches around the world.

McClintock says wearing uniforms fosters a team environment, while presenting a more professional look. And the extreme cleanliness of the plant is a direct reflection of church teachings, he says—as well as a productivity enhancer.

“The better organized one is, the more one is capable of producing,” McClintock notes. “The cleaner the shop, the easier it is to produce more and move product through the workflow.”

Related story: Scientology Church to Launch Second Massive In-plant

Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.

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  • http://Tad Tad

    The attention to detail on this plant is just staggering. Although the scope of this plant boggles the mind, one can tell that each piece of it was done with quite a bit of forethought in terms of predicting needs for the future, and working to be able to produce the Church’s materials in all of the various languages and requirements needed and at substantial cost savings. I’d love to get a tour of the place, just to watch it go.

  • http://DavidDiaz David Diaz

    Wow, what a fantastically modern and efficient operation they have going!

  • http://NoelWard Noel Ward

    I’ve been in the Bridge Publications operation a couple of times and the attention to detail of every single element is astonishing. This new operation is clearly the offset version of the digital shop at Bridge. They are quite an example of what can be done with a clean sheet approach.