Vendor Creativity Helps In-plant Through Tough TimeSeptember 1, 2011 By Bob Neubauer
Two years ago, things were looking up for M.I.T. Copy Technology Centers, the in-plant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge. After a long search, the 21-employee operation had finally made the decision to acquire a Xerox iGen3 and was preparing to enter the world of high-quality color printing.
Then everything changed. The sour economy compelled M.I.T. to freeze capital expenditures, leaving the in-plant in limbo.
“So we were kind of dead in the water,” reflects Manager Steve Dimond. “We had old, aging, small color devices”—specifically a pair of five-year-old Konica Minolta C850s, which struggled to handle the volume.
“We were losing customers because we couldn’t quite keep up the quality,” Dimond says.
In the years that followed, M.I.T. looked hard at all of its service groups, seeking ways to save money.
“Our services came under...intense review,” Dimond says.
So he put out on S.O.S. to all of the vendors, looking for a creative, temporary color solution that could help them through this difficult period. Most simply offered purchase proposals. But one vendor showed more creativity.
“Konica Minolta came up with a brand new bizhub PRO C6501, which they gave to us on a month-to-month basis.” The in-plant would pay only click charges.
“It was a huge upgrade for us, and it also allowed us to economically continue the color service, and even enhance it,” Dimond says.
This led to M.I.T. Copy Technology Centers being chosen as a Beta test site for Konica Minolta’s new bizhub PRESS C8000. Armed with two color devices, the in-plant was able to significantly grow its color business, developing customers at a higher level than ever before. Its ability to bring high-profile color print work back on campus and save M.I.T. money, brought the in-plant very favorable reviews, helping it through some difficult times.
The in-plant’s reputation was also enhanced by the creative, non-print initiatives it came up with, such as managing an electronic signage service on campus—a system of screens where departments can advertise their events.
When the college eased up its financial restrictions, the in-plant went out to bid once again, but this time with more conservative print expectations. An iGen3 was no longer the best fit. Instead, the shop chose to acquire the C8000 it had been testing, adding a multi punch unit with interchangeable dies and inline folding. It also opted to keep the 6501. Now the in-plant is handling work it previously had to send outside—jobs like alumni mailings and campaign materials for human resources.
The next step, Dimond says, is upgrading the shop’s bindery with a new cutter, as well as a folder/cutter/slitter so it can handle business cards, which are currently outsourced. The in-plant is also about to launch WebCRD from Rochester Software Associates.
“It’s going to significantly upgrade the Web-to-print process for our M.I.T. customers,” Dimond says.
The in-plant is currently changing its reporting structure.
“We previously reported to the Dean for Student Life on the academic side,” notes Dimond. “We are in the transition period to report to the VP for Institute Affairs on the Administrative side. The overall plan is to add our department to a new communications umbrella group that will unify the delivery of information both internally and externally.”
These are all exciting changes for an in-plant that, a short while ago, had its head on the chopping block. Dimond praises Konica Minolta for coming to his aid when he needed it.
“Had they not come up with something, I’m not sure we would have survived that two-year period,” he acknowledges. “They literally, in some ways, saved the department.”