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Jun 1, 1997 12:00 AM

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"Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time," wrote Voltaire. The six companies winning Gold Awards in the 1996 NAPL Management Plus Awards competition do not claim they have reached perfection, but their records of achievement have brought them closer than many of their peers. Many firms competed for the Gold, Silver and Merit Awards awarded in this annual program, co-sponsored by the National Assn. of Printers and Lithographers, Didde Web Press and american printer. The William K. Marrinan Hall of Fame winner is detailed on page 56-57.

In six years since its founding, Lazer Inc. (Rochester, NY) has reached more than $5 million in sales of prepress products and services, and garnered five Management Plus awards, including two Golds. The firm's marketing is highly selective and the services offered closely tailored to each client's needs. "We've chosen to serve only one company in any given industry," reports Karl Scheible, president. "That way we truly operate as an important, integrated part of the client's business with no conflicts of interest."

Three of the firm's clients have taken advantage of Lazer's offer to set up, train and operate prepress design and prep departments in their offices. One such installation in Ohio employs 14 Lazer Inc. people.

"Our employees are our greatest asset," says Scheible. "They are highly creative, with all the talents necessary to understand and apply the ever-changing technologies that help our business grow." The company invests heavily in employee training, reimbursing those who choose educational advancement through outside job-related courses.

A new state-of-the-art building houses the company's digital photography operations and expanded creative department, which handles a large volume of catalog work. Telecommunications, on-line digital archiving and database creation and maintenance play a major role in the rapid growth. "We run customers' networks and database their images for distribution," reports Scheible, "and currently manage more than a terabyte of information."

In digital archiving, the company takes a consultant position. "We've put together quite a few systems, including Internet solutions and point-to-point applications. Constant attention to new technology is an important ingredient in today's management and essential to being a player."

First time Gold Award winner First Impressions Lithographic Co., Inc. (Plainview, NY) credits judicious use of the newest technologies for its successful growth. "We've been able to expand our market areas geographically because the new technologies have made their economies and conveniences available to small $8 million companies such as ourselves," states company president Victor A. Triolo.

Using ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) interface equipment, which provides fast transmission of analog or voice data together with digital data, First Impressions finds it comparatively easy and profitable to offer its wide range of services to distant customers. The technology, combined with 49 skilled employees, permits customers to send sophisticated files, including color, for handling from production to assembling, addressing and mailing.

Besides the thorough pre-production check of customer-provided material performed at First Impressions, the company offers customers software and training to permit them to perform their own preflighting prior to transmission of the jobs.

Founded in 1966 as a sheet-fed offset commercial shop, First Impressions now offers total services, from creative through fulfillment and mailing. Affiliates also provide fulfillment and lettershop services, recycling education through a printed product line, and complete electronic prepress services. The significant increase in sales and profits in 1996 has permitted acquisition of an additional 10,000 sq. ft. of space and another offset press to handle the projected increase in business.

"We're very bullish about the industry and the prospects of providing new services with digital imaging," says Triolo.

The mission statement of this Rochester, NY firm sums up the management philosophy that has led to its Gold Award: "Flower City Printing, Inc. is in the communication business. We produce the highest possible quality color printing and packaging materials to support our clients' needs. We recognize the client as the driving force. Our vision of Flower City Printing includes: hard work; innovative ideas; partnering with clients and suppliers; exceeding expectations; proactive and responsive communications; a safe, fun and profitable workplace to ensure that we will continue to make a difference in our clients' and employees' lives."

Maintaining leadership in advanced technologies--in prepress, press and customer communications--has helped spur company growth despite fluctuations in the economy. In 1994 Flower City Printing was one of the first privately owned printing companies to be certified ISO 9002. It also is among the first to invest in six-color presses, in-line aqueous coating and vegetable-based inks to totally eliminate alcohol.

Prepress projects are handled with the fastest Macintosh, Scitex and Unix technologies available, fitted with hundreds of megabytes of RAM, graphics, cards and special software capable of handling the largest files. "Not only do we have the tools," states company president Wayne Scheible, "we have the creative vision and technical skills it takes to get the job done."

Flower City Printing customers and prospects can learn much about the company and its services via its extensive Web pages on the Internet.

Combine all this with an enlightened employee benefits and support program, a commitment to environmental controls and extensive participation in programs benefiting the community and industry, and you understand the reasons for this company's Gold Award.

When a customer reports "Whenever we have a job that screams 'impossible' we call EU Services because they always make our deadlines 'possible'" you know one reason why this firm has won the Gold. The compliment is even more meaningful when you understand the extent and complexity of EU's services. Specializing in every phase of production and distribution of direct mail packages, the company's modern facilities in Rockville, MD are more than a hundred times larger than in 1968 when it was started as an envelope printer.

Today EU Services offers complete prepress planning and production, full commercial and envelope printing, sophisticated personalization and computer services, and technologically advanced mail processing. Although customers can, and do, utilize any of these services individually, EU's most impressive growth comes from marketing full service--the design, production and distribution of complete direct mail packages, done under one roof. "We stress ease of doing business," reports John R. Loudon, executive vice president, "by going out of our way, if necessary, to meet every possible need of the customer."

EU Services' management philosophy is based on the belief that its 400-plus employees ultimately determine the company's success. Employee committees help make decisions in such areas as insurance; the special activities for employees and their families, funded by the company; monitoring of safety procedures; and development of human resources policies. A committee of customer service representatives reviews procedures and recommends changes to enhance customer service. The company and its employees direct the EU Caring Campaign, an organization formed to provide service to the community, ranging from support of needy families to college scholarships for worthy students.

Allstate Insurance Company's Print Communication Center takes its second Gold Award in as many years. This recognition was earned with management techniques designed to demonstrate the company's famous slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate" and make it a reality for its corporate customers.

The Center, with 300 full time and 30 part-time temporary employees working three shifts, provides complete communication skills and services, ranging from creative to production to fulfillment and inventory control. Sheet-fed and non-heatset offset equipment is supplemented by a wide range of electronic facilities, including DocuTech, EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), Oracle DADS and MPS (Mechanized Mailing Package Systems), PC LAN System, Dynamic Scheduling System to segment all print processes, and a wireless communication/phone system. It is an important Beta test site for many new technological developments.

Despite the advantage of a shared services system that gives the unit the right of first refusal on many of the corporation's communication needs, the in-plant's management must meet--and preferably exceed--all the capabilities available from its outside competition, in range of services as well as their quality and cost. To monitor and maintain the overall profitability of the operation to the company, a sophisticated measurement system ensures that both capacity and efficiency of all equipment exceeds 92 percent.

"Quality has become ingrained in our culture," reports Robert J. Tierney, C.G.C.M., print communications operations director, "with prevention the focus, and all associates involved in checking their work."

With firm plans to move into the next century as "being more than just putting ink on paper," as president Stephen J. Brody explains, Intelligencer Printing Co. (Lancaster, PA) earns its third Gold Award. Crediting retired president William L. Beckwith for the policies and performance responsible for the awards, Brody emphasizes the way the company--with roots in the commercial printing operations of the 1794 Lancaster Journal--has embraced the most advanced technologies, not just in printing, but in electronic and digital communications.

A visit to the company's Internet Web site is almost like a visit to the plant with its experts. It describes the facilities and the firm's capabilities in detail, answers frequently asked technical questions in many areas and lets the viewer see samples of jobs produced.

With more than 250 dedicated employees, the company serves nearly 500 customers in an eight-state area with general printing services and sizeable specialties in catalogs, directories and advertising materials. Web equipment can print up to 10 colors and fold, diecut, perforate, pattern and remoistenable-glue and trim to final size, ready for the carton, at web speed.

A newer specialty from Intelligencer is the creation of Web pages for others. "If you like ours," reports president Brody, "we promise to have ideas suitable to your needs. Our experienced staff will guide you through cyberspace and onto the World Wide Web."

For complete details on the Management Plus Program, contact the NAPL Center for Continuing Education, 780 Palisade Ave., Teaneck, NJ 07666; phone 800-642-NAPL.

* Wordsprint, Inc., Wytheville, VA * Modern Press, Inc., Wilmington, DE * Syscan Corporation, Charleston, WV * Bloomington Offset Process, Inc., Bloomington, IL * Carpenter Reserve Printing, Cleveland, OH * Ross Printing Company, Spokane, WA * Wicklander Printing Corporation, Chicago, IL * Craftsman Printing Company, Charlotte, NC * Keys Printing, Greenville, SC * The Argus Press, Inc., Niles, IL * Quebecor Printing Loveland Inc., Loveland, CO * The John Henry Company, Lansing, MI * The Nielsen Company, Florence, KY * Friesens Corporation, Altona, Manitoba, Canada * Baum Printing Company, Philadelphia, PA * Multi Ad Services, Peoria, IL * French Bray, Inc., Glen Burnie, MD

* Western Graphics, Inc., St. Paul, MN * Heartland Press, Inc., Spencer, IA * Webtrend, Vista, CA * Solar Communications, Naperville, IL * McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., Saline, MI * ZBR Publications, Inc., Haverhill, MA * Anderson Lithograph Company, Los Angeles, CA * George Lithograph, Brisbane, CA * State of California, Office of State Printing, Sacramento, CA