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A Texas In-plant Roundup

In-plant managers from all over the South got together in Austin, Texas, last month to discuss outsourcing, benchmarking and "Game Theory."

October 2013 By Bob Neubauer
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Judging by the content of the sessions at last month's Southeastern University Printing and Digital Managers Conference (SUPDMC), the threat of outsourcing still weighs heavy on the minds of higher-ed in-plant managers. Throughout the three-day conference, held on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, speakers repeated the worrisome message that outsourcing companies are relentless and every in-plant should expect—and prepare—to be called into question.

According to Ed Danielczyk, president of Business eXcellence Consulting, in-plant managers who face this inquisition often try to defend themselves using the wrong arguments. Instead of talking about how much money they're saving, he said, managers need to show the in-plant is a core service by stressing the essential part it plays in helping the university fulfill its goals of attracting and retaining students and encouraging alumni contributions.

"You've got to have the right conversation," advised Danielczyk.

He was just one of the many excellent speakers at the 38th annual SUPDMC, which drew about 30 managers from all over the southeastern United States, as well as from Ohio and Arizona. It was hosted and organized by Richard Beto and his staff at UT Austin Document Services.

Attendees got a chance to tour this impressive in-plant during the conference. With two- and four-color offset presses and full bindery and mail capabilities, the 52-employee print and mail operation produces high-quality, award-winning pieces for the university. A separate, on-campus digital print facility includes a Xerox 1000, plus Canon color and monochrome printers and wide-format inkjet printers. Plans are in place to move the digital operation into the main plant by the end of the year.

Artistic Talent Showcase

The conference got off to an unconventional, interactive start when Gary Williford, retired manager of the University of Tennessee's in-plant in Knoxville, asked attendees to each draw a poster depicting what they do as managers. Though their artistic talents were a bit strained by the exercise, they scratched out images ranging from firemen putting out fires to the Energizer Bunny. Williford told managers they are the "Why Guys" on campus, whom people come to for answers.

To demonstrate new technologies for making printed pieces interactive, so they continue to be a viable component in the marketing mix, Kristel Foster and Jeff May, of Quad­Williamson, showed examples of image recognition (IR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. By using AR, a QR code is no longer needed to bring readers from a printed page to an online resource; once an app, such as Actable from Quad, is downloaded, a user's smart phone scans the whole page and redirects the phone's browser.


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