Managed print services (MPS) have evolved as a major force in our part of the printing and document management space. They’re also a major threat. MPS vendors have become increasingly aggressive in their attempts to convince our bosses that companies, public agencies, health care facilities, non-profits, or colleges and universities should not operate in-plant printing services. “It’s not your core business,” they argue.
If you ever set type by hand, if you’ve ever operated a Linotype or a Ludlow, if the terms “slug” or “chase” or “foundry” or “Hell Box” bring back thoughts of “back in the day,” you may relate to this story. No, this isn’t a story of nostalgia, and I won’t try to convince you how great things used to be. In fact, if you are familiar enough with a letterpress shop to remember the heat and the noise, I don’t have to tell you how much things have improved as we evolved into today’s digital print technologies.
Joe Goss, long-time printing director at Indiana University until he retired a year ago, introduced me to the Association of College and University Printers (ACUP) when I moved from the Texas Department of Human Resources to the University of Iowa in 1986 (I know, I’m showing my age), and I’ve been a member ever since. During that time ACUP has been a valuable resource, primarily by opening the door to its members’ knowledge and expertise. I also get to hang out with some really cool people.
A recent post on one of the print sites got my attention. The author, apparently an executive at a commercial shop—you know, the ones that say that we in-plants don’t get it—asked the question (and I’m paraphrasing here): how much business does a customer have to do with your firm to in order for you to take her/him on as a client.
It’s been several weeks since representatives of the in-plant community descended on Printing Industries of America (PIA) headquarters near Pittsburgh for an “In-plant/PIA Summit.” The summit was the brainchild of recently elected PIA board chairman Tim Burton and followed on the heels of unsuccessful merger talks between PIA and NAPL.
You all know the drill: a customer shows up at the in-plant with a job that must be completed in an impossible time frame. The in-plant gets the job out on time, usually involving some heroic effort, and the customer fails to pick it up. Should you complain? Or see a rush job as an opportunity to add value, to show how an in-plant can contribute to the core purpose of the organization?