Bar Association Beefs Up Pressroom
WHEN GORDON Ryan joined the 77,000-member New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) about 12 months ago as print production manager, the organization had already decided to upgrade its in-house printing capabilities. To date, that upgrade has included a relocation to a 20,000-square-foot off-site facility custom-fitted to suit NYSBA's printing and warehousing workflow requirements, as well as a significant upgrade in equipment.
To ensure that the expanding in-plant stays busy, Ryan has worked hard over the past year to persuade employees of NYSBA—the nation's oldest and largest voluntary state bar organization—to look first to the 11-employee in-plant for their printing needs before turning to outside commercial shops.
"We support the organization with printing—everything from brochures and direct mail pieces for new members, to invoices," Ryan says. "We print a lot of seminar brochures and course books for the Continuing Legal Education department, where this season they have seminars on 33 topics at 115 sites from January through June."
The association also publishes books and is involved in warehousing and shipping them. Additionally, it prints a variety of two-color newsletters for the NYSBA's various "sections." Each section and newsletter focuses on one aspect of the law, such as entertainment law, trusts and estates or elder law.
To keep costs down for its members, the NYSBA started analyzing what type of work was being done in-house, which projects were being sent out and how to adjust the balance to maximize capacity.
The in-plant offers a full range of services, from prepress—utilizing an Agfa Palladio CTP system with Apogee workflow—to offset and digital printing. The shop prints variable data on two black-and-white Kodak EX150 digital printers and a full-color Konica Minolta C6500. A bindery equipped primarily with Standard Horizon machines offers everything from cutting and folding to saddle stitching and perfect binding.
As the newest member of the department Ryan feels that the success of the NYSBA in-plant is a direct result of the commitment and dedication of its employees, some of whom have been with the association more than 30 years.
When Ryan came on board, the plant's offset capabilities included two old Omni Adast two-color presses (a 725P and a 526P) and a four-color (two-over-two) Heidelberg perfector.
"The Omni presses are not commonplace, so they're a little harder to get parts for," Ryan says, "and it was difficult to get service on them at certain times."
To fulfill the in-plant's goal of saving money by keeping more work in-house, Ryan knew he had to consider the addition of four-color capabilities.
"We saw our market being pushed more and more to four-color so we needed to find a way to increase our four-color capabilities if we wanted to handle internally the printing we were doing on the outside," he says.
Ryan, along with Roger Buchanan, senior director of facilities, and Leonard Durham, equipment maintenance manager, talked to several leading press manufacturers. They narrowed their focus down to the four-color Komori Lithrone S29 (LS429) in large part because of its promised image quality, automation and the service and support available for it. A visit to Komori's headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Ill., sealed the deal. The LS429 was installed last November.
Achieving Customer Satisfaction
Among the efficiencies NYSBA has achieved with its upgrade is a more productive use of its staff. The in-plant's three press operators now alternate between the Heidelberg and the Komori, and are available to help in the pressroom or in the finishing area.
"We have a fair amount of two-over-two work, which traditionally had to run through the presses two times," Ryan says. "Now we take our two-over-two work and focus it on the Heidelberg press, and we pick up production efficiency there. We can print both four-color and two-color jobs on it, but all of our higher quality work goes to the Komori."
The positive results gained from the successful upgrade in equipment and subsequent workflow is generating a greater confidence at the NYSBA in the in-plant's ability to deliver commercial-level quality products in the most efficient and affordable way. As confirmation of the greater trust employees have in the in-plant's abilities, Ryan's team was recently asked to produce a complex membership kit that included saddle-stitched pages bound inside a coated cover—a job that previously had been produced outside.
In another instance, the facility printed a 20-page saddle-stitched booklet for a seminar on dispute resolution. The publication not only attracted positive comments from seminar attendees, but several association members have asked about the possibility of reprinting the booklet with their firm's logo on it.
"Our in-house print facility started many years ago as a small shop located within the association's main offices in downtown Albany with black-and-white equipment. It then grew to produce two-color work and some four-color work," says Ryan. "Now we have an equipment list that would rival any other commercial shop in the area. We're also automated with direct-to-plate and high-speed copiers. We have Printshop Mail [software] that allows us to do variable data work and BCC Mail Manager for pre-sorting our own lists so we can save money on mailing. And with the addition of the new Komori press, we can ultimately save the association more money with the ability to keep work in-house that we used to send out.
"I guess the best way to put it is that we are simply enjoying the capabilities we now have to do more complicated applications, based on the quality of work we can produce," he concludes. "I'm a firm believer that the digital world doesn't replace the offset world, but each technology complements each other. In the end it's really a matter of what is the appropriate technology for the product you're producing, and sometimes it's the combination of offset and digital that makes it happen."
Related story: NY Bar Association In-plant Upgrades Bindery