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Spending Dollars

May 2000
Money may not grow on trees, but that didn't stop Dollar Tree from spending a few bucks to upgrade its in-plant.

The whole idea of going to a Dollar Tree store is to save money. But sometimes you have to spend a few dollars now to save money down the road.

With that in mind, Dollar Tree recently spent more than $500,000 to completely upgrade its 11-employee in-house graphics department, based in Chesapeake, Va.

The 4,500-square-foot shop produces everything from signs to coupons for Dollar Tree's home office, four distribution centers and 1,400 stores nationwide. The company is expanding, and graphic arts manager Jeff Edney saw that his in-plant needed to expand its capabilities to keep up.

"The company planned to grow at a rate of 20 percent a year, so in five years we would have to more than double our production capabilities within the same space," he explains.

To discover where the in-plant was saving the most money, Edney compared his expenses to the cost of outsourcing.

"Even though we were saving money in all areas of production, the biggest savings were in the vinyl sign and offset production," he notes. "Silk screen printing was saving money also, but it took up a lot of floor space in our facility."

Edney and his staff decided to expand their offset capabilities and stop silkscreen production, which the shop had been doing for nine years. Consequently, they had to find the right equipment to replace it.

"We researched equipment and decided that we should go with a direct-to-plate prepress and a true two-color 20x29˝ format press," Edney says.

Lots Of New Gear

Dollar Tree sold most of its existing equipment and eliminated its silkscreen printing area and darkroom to make space for the prepress equipment it planned to buy. Then it added a bevy of state-of-the-art machinery and upgrades, including:

• Upgrades for current Mac computers (processors, RAM, hard drives, 100 BaseT Ethernet cards)

• Heidelberg Delta RIP/server package (Delta trapping, forms proofer software)

• Creo Trendsetter 3230 platesetter

• Kodak plate processor

• Heidelberg plate punch and plate bender

• Tobias color densitometer

• Heidelberg Sapphire hi-res scanner

• Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 HP (20x29˝) offset press with high pile delivery and dryer attached

• HP DesignJet 1055CM (36˝) wide-format ink-jet color printer

• Heidelberg Polar 92ED (36˝) cutter

• Bracket PadMaster 2000

• Performance Design spiral binder

• A second 10-bin tower for the Duplo collator/bookmaker

• Silicon Graphics Signa Station 5.0 NT

• Sharp Shooter press-connected paper counter and a Max 1 paper counter

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