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San Diego Chargers

February 2002
When the City of San Diego's in-plant sees an opportunity, it rushes right in to take advantage of it. The resulting mix of services, both traditional and nontraditional, has kept customers happy.

by CAROLINE MILLER

Not only is variety the spice of life for the City of San Diego's in-plant. It's also the key to its success.

"We've found that we've had to continually reinvent ourselves, and that like all good in-plants we have to always anticipate the needs of our customers before our customers do," says Liam McGuigan, deputy director of the general services department for the City of San Diego.

Situated just five miles from the Pacific Ocean, the 37-employee in-plant has an ideal location; the surfers on staff don't have far to go when they leave at 4:00 to catch the last waves of the day. In the other direction, the San Jacinto mountain range lures the staff's avid hikers. Meanwhile, just 15 miles from the facility, Mexico and the Baja Peninsula await those seeking a more international flavor.

But despite the outdoor attractions, the near-constant sunshine, and warm temperatures that allow employees to come to work in shorts and T-shirts—even in winter—the inside of the in-plant is a busy place. With a $6.5 million budget, the operation offers offset printing and copying, as well as graphic design, prepress and bindery services.

But the in-plant has also stepped into new territory by offering Web design (the in-plant designed the city's Web site), digital asset management and promotional products. The department also recently acquired a networked Océ TDS 600 large-format printer to enable it to electronically transfer and print schematic designs for the water and utilities departments, says McGuigan.

Despite this abundance of capabilities, though, getting the word out to city departments about the services available to them can be a challenge.

"I go to a lot of the management meetings, so I know what they are doing and what they will be doing," McGuigan says. "That puts us in a unique position to help departments solve problems, [and] offer solutions and suggestions that are cheaper, quicker and better."

A recent project with the city auditor's office is just one example of how the in-plant serves as a proactive force within San Diego. The auditor's office needed a more efficient way to look at the city's time cards. Previously, the time cards were stored in boxes throughout the city. The in-plant designed a Web-based imaging system, under the leadership of James Carter, an electronic publishing specialist, where all the time cards were scanned into a system that allows the auditor's office to look at them in an organized and efficient manner via the Web.
 

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