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Southern Success Story

New digital gear and a streamlined production process are propelling this Alabama in-plant to the forefront.

September 2002 by Bob Neubauer
When Alabama's finance director mandated that all state printing be routed through the Division of Printing and Publications a few years ago, he ticked off a lot of state agencies.

One of them, the Alabama Forestry Commission, grumbled for weeks, upset it couldn't keep using its long-time commercial vendor.

"But they worked with us a time or two and found out that we could do the job—and we actually did it cheaper," notes Jerry Wilson, division director of Alabama's Division of Printing and Publications, Department of Finance.

Now that reluctant department is a fan. In fact, Wilson says, the Forestry Commission recently sent him a nice letter complimenting the in-plant for its pleasant, hard-working staff and high-quality printing.

"They just really wanted to tell us they appreciated it," says Wilson. "We're in a business where not too many compliments are passed around. Those kind of things are pleasing."

On Course For Success

That's the kind of success story Jerry Wilson wants to keep telling. And he's on course to do just that.

His in-plant recently installed an arsenal of new equipment in its two Montgomery facilities to help it meet customer demands even faster, while saving the state lots of money—one of Wilson's primary goals. On the list of new gear:

• A four-color Heidelberg Quickmaster 46-4 DI—a direct imaging press handling 13-3/8x18-1/8? sheets.

• Two two-color Heidelberg Printmaster 46-2 duplicators, which also handle 13-3/8x18-1/8? sheets.

• Three Heidelberg Digimaster 9110 digital printers, two of them with booklet making/saddle stitching capabilities.

• Two 65-page-per-minute (ppm), 600-dpi Heidelberg imageDirect 665 scanners to digitize hard copy submissions and send them quickly between the in-plant's two locations.

Justifying the cost of all this new gear was not easy, Wilson says, but it helped that his in-plant is self-supporting.

"We don't get any kind of subsidies from anybody," he explains. "We print and sell printing, and that's how we pay salaries and buy equipment."

Even so, he still had to convince his boss that the return on investment and equipment life expectancy were good enough to merit the purchase.

"It's just a matter of being able to communicate and 'sell' what you need," he says. Wilson also credits the trust he has built up with his supervisors through the years.

Experienced Leader

An easy-going, friendly man with a keen business eye, Wilson began working for the state in 1966, two years out of high school. He worked his way up through the ranks, mastering most of the printing equipment along the way. In 1976, when the state legislature consolidated 20 state in-plants into the current Printing and Publications division, Wilson was promoted to advisory supervisor. He eventually made his way to facility supervisor and then division director. Helping Wilson oversee production is Assistant Division Director Lynn Poe.
 

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