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Talk from the Top Bindery and Mailing

December 2004
Top 50 in-plants know the importance of having the right bindery and mailing tools.

By Eric Martin

Printing fabulous-looking work quickly and cheaply is all well and good, but having the finished product merely sit in your in-plant won't make customers too happy.

The in-plants that make up this year's IPG Top 50 understand the importance of having the right bindery and mailing tools to get the job done and in the hands of customers as soon as possible.

That's one reason Tim Steenhoek, head of Document Management for ING, in Des Moines, Iowa, integrates mailing and labeling with the basic printing process, a successful combination that landed his shop at number 15 on the IPG Top 50.

"We understand the distribution of a product before we even print it," he says. "One group might go out next-day air, another group to the Internet, and a third group will be added to five other pieces and mailed. We use a lot of software tools to assemble and sort the final product before we go to print."

Over the past two years, Steenhoek's shop has acquired an HP Indigo 3050 six-color press, a twin tower IBM 4100 that handles 1,220 pages per minute, a Böwe Bell & Howell DemandWorks self-seal unit, a GBC coil binding machine that processes 70,000 pages per hour, and much more.

"We have self-seal units on two Xerox devices, so the printer prints, folds and seals in one shot," he says.

Steenhoek's shop uses all digital printing equipment, so pieces are addressed at the same time they're printed.

"All the material is presorted," he says, "so it goes straight from the printer to the mail train. That's one example of how we think of distribution before we print."

One such job was a run of 4.5 million mailers to notify customers of ING's privacy promise.

"We used our self seal and variable data processes, took all our records, did the postal cleansing, presorting and bar coding, all before it went to the printer," describes Steenhoek. "When it got there it was already a perfect piece of mail."

Building on Success

In the Chicago suburbs, Ace Hardware's in-plant found similar benefits after enhancing its bindery and mailing capabilities.

"Four years ago, Ace Hardware began a customer loyalty program, and we were approached to see whether we could create and produce mail pieces welcoming new members or offering 'members only' benefits," says Rick Salinas, production manager of the Ace Reprographics Division in Downers Grove, Ill., which ranks number 20 in the Top 50.


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