University of West Georgia Wins Print Center Award

The UWG Pub & Print team (from left): Sally Roberts, director; Kacy McBurnett, graphic artist; Eddie Rogers, production supervisor; Donna Martin, office manager; Brooke Keener, receptionist/budget manager; Jeff Marlow, senior coordinator, digital production; Debby Holcombe, prepress supervisor; Carlos Olvera, senior press operator; Ian Haynes, digital printing assistant; and Keith Harris, senior press operator.

Sally Roberts, of the University of West Georgia, reveals how her in-plant doubled its revenue over a three-year period.

The Publications and Printing team from the University of West Georgia (UWG) has been honored with the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association’s 2013 Print Center Award. This award recognizes an in-house publishing operation that excels in efficient management practices in furthering the objectives of its parent organization.

The Carrollton, Ga.-based in-plant’s 10-member team, led by Director Sally Roberts, has worked to reinvent the print facility, adding new products and services, developing a new market segment and re-engineering business processes to transform a “subsidized” service into a profit center.

“Most of our staff came here with a love of printing. It’s much more than a job for all of us,” notes Roberts. “We have almost no turnover. All of us have been here for many years, and most stay until they retire. We’re really excited to receive the Print Center Award this year.”

The UWG shop had a strong motivation to make some changes. Since the 1960s the shop had been a cost center of the university’s academic division, which supported the in-plant with a salary “subsidy.” But in 2009 when the budget crisis hit Georgia, the shop was, if not on the chopping block, at least very close. It needed a new plan—one that would allow it to pay its own way, and do it with existing equipment, staff and resources.

Pub & Print, as it is known on the UWG campus, was moved under Mark Reeves, vice president for Auxiliary Services, where such pay-your-own-way practices were the norm.

The shop had historically served primarily faculty and staff with academic and presentation materials, but never many students. The Pub & Print team decided to target this untapped market segment. They researched students’ needs and developed a portfolio of new products and services. These, along with marketing efforts, have enabled the operation to gain new business and a 54 percent awareness among students.

New products and services were added to meet targeted student needs. These included CDs/DVDs; student business cards; commencement invitations; printing, mounting and laminating of posters and presentation material; bus signage and banners; magnets; and self-stick wall art.

To market its services, Pub & Print sent samples of products to campus administrative leadership with a letter introducing the shop and its new direction. Staff spoke at fall kick-off meetings of numerous student and faculty organizations. The school newspaper and on-campus signage were used to promote successful fall open houses, attended by faculty, staff, students and even the university president.

“The open houses were a great opportunity to make sure clients saw the shop’s wall of fame, displaying all the awards we have won over the years from the Printing & Imaging Association of Georgia (PIAG), IPMA and others,” says Roberts.

The in-plant is also beginning to expand its market outside campus by printing for other University System of Georgia schools, focusing on course catalogs, alumni and annual literary magazines and student planners.

To improve efficiency, the in-plant worked with Dan Lewis, director of the university’s Center for Business Excellence (and a Lean Six Sigma black belt). He mapped selected business processes and helped analyze each process for efficiency improvements. In mapping the quick copy production workflow, it achieved a 28 percent reduction in job processing time, and a 23.5 percent increase in revenue for the quick copy area. Software upgrades automated some processes, saving five to 30 minutes per job.

As a result of these and other efforts, the in-plant achieved a 34 percent ($160,000) annual revenue increase, growing its targeted student market segment to 54 percent over two years. The shop also gained approval for a 25 percent expansion in floor space for 2013.

“We continue to stay focused on repeating our performance in the coming fiscal year,” declares Roberts. “It will be challenging, but with the dedication this team has, and using the combination of strategies that have worked well for two years running, we will reach self-sufficiency and will be ready for the next challenge.”

Related story: University of West Georgia In-plant Commended for Improvements

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