Major Facelift Brings In-plant Back to Life
Fayetteville State University’s in-plant had seen better days. With just a couple of digital printers and some odd bindery equipment, the shop wasn’t even fully staffed any more, and most print work was being outsourced.
So the North Carolina university did an analysis, examining the costs of closing it entirely and outsourcing everything versus investing in it, adding staff and bringing a significant amount of print work in-house. The numbers clearly supported restarting the in-plant.
To make this happen, the university hired Gary Warren, formerly supervisor of Print and Document Services at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, who had brought growth and profitability to that in-plant over the past couple years. He was impressed with Fayetteville State University’s commitment to its in-plant.
“I knew if they were putting that much money into the equipment that they were serious about starting it up,” he says. “They’ve been very supportive through the whole process. I’ve been really excited about that.”
Armed with the school’s strong support, Warren hired employees, gave the 4,636-sq.-ft. shop a facelift — with new paint and wall murals — and ordered an arsenal of new equipment that would make any in-plant jealous:
- A Mimaki JFX200-2513 flatbed wide-format printer
- A Mimaki UCJV300-160 roll-to-roll wide-format printer
- A Xanté Impressia digital envelope printer
- A Standard Horizon CRF creaser/folder
- A Prism 27i paper cutter
- A Royal Sovereign cold laminator with heat assist
- A Sailrite Fabricator sewing machine
- PagePath MyOrderDesk Web-to-print software
The in-plant’s existing Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS C1100 and bizhub PRESS C6000 were kept to handle the booklets, post cards and classroom materials the shop is called on to print (and a new Konica Minolta AccurioPress C3070 is on order). The Xanté Impressia brings envelope printing in-house.
The new wide-format capabilities, though, bring the biggest change to the in-plant. They were driven by the university’s desire to give the campus a facelift.
“The signage on campus is really old,” remarks Warren, “so we’re going to be updating all that.”
He’s already got a list of more than 50 signs the in-plant was asked to print for campus buildings, parking lots and more. The shop even hopes to print ADA-compliant signage. The Mimaki JFX200-2513 flatbed can print on substrates up to 2˝ thick, saving the in-plant from having to mount prints onto rigid materials.
“They want to update the look of a lot of the buildings,” Warren says, with wall murals, acrylic (e.g., plexiglass) prints, elevator wraps and window graphics all on the suggestion list.
With the Mimaki UCJV300-160, the in-plant will be able to print vehicle wraps, something Warren had been doing at UNC-Pembroke.
“We have two buses in the works, a van and golf carts,” says Warren.
The two wide-format printers were used to decorate the walls of the in-plant with murals, acrylic signs and vinyl cutouts to demonstrate the shop’s capabilities. This was all shown off in April when Bronco Printing Solutions held its grand opening, an event that drew 100 visitors, including the chancellor.
“It really helped, showing them what our capabilities were,” says Warren. “Before, they basically thought of us as a copy center, so this has helped to bump our image up quite a bit.”
Since the grand opening, the in-plant has gotten orders for coasters printed on tiles with the flatbed printer and photos printed on plexiglass so the image is viewed through the glass.
Warren continues to market the in-plant with signage on campus, emails and personal visits to departments.
“We’re starting to get more jobs in,” he says. “Everybody’s very impressed with what we can do now.”
Warren plans to make it easier for customers to send work to the in-plant by implementing PagePath’s MyOrderDesk Web-to-print system and moving away from the university system currently in use.
“MyOrderDesk is a lot more user friendly than what we have,” he says.
As work increases, Warren hopes to expand his staff.
“I’d like to hire at least one or two students this coming fall,” he says. He also wants to start an internship program in the in-plant to support the educational mission of the university. This goal will also be accomplished in another way: “They’re planning on using the profits, after the print shop gets up and going, to put toward scholarships,” Warren notes.
Related story: Brand New In-plant Opens in Fayetteville
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.