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Feb 1, 2007 12:00 AM
Ramsey Press, Inc., a $7.5 million commercial printer based in Mahwah, NJ, doesn’t cut corners when it comes to printing—a philosophy that extends into all of its business practices.
“Our company specializes in producing the best quality, delivering true value for our customers and gaining integrity for the craft of print,” says president Nicole Colon, who oversees Ramsey Press’ business administration and marketing efforts.
Perhaps the best example the company’s dedication to quality is that it refuses to print special samples for its portfolio, proclaiming that every piece should be printed with the attention and care given to showcase samples.
“Quality should not be reserved for a sample,” says vice president Patrick Pagani, who manages production. “It doesn’t make sense to put extra effort into one sample piece in order to prove that my service is the best for my customer; every piece I print should be a testament to how well I do my job.”
As such, Pagani and Colon have made it a priority to invest in technology that supports top-quality print. The company switched to CTP with Agfa’s (Ridgefield Park, NJ) :Galileo eight-up platesetter soon after it was introduced, and recently upgraded its digital workflow system from :Apogee Series 3 to :ApogeeX. These process improvements reduced production steps, which was particularly important to Pagani, who knew circulating a project through extra steps could lead to a less-than-perfect finished product.
But the most significant quality-enhancement to the workflow—and the most noticeable to the Ramsey Press customer base—was the implementation of a cross-modulated (hybrid) screening technology that allowed Ramsey’s existing presses to achieve 340 lpi without extra effort.
When the team at Ramsey Press first began using Agfa’s :Sublima screening, it wasn’t clear whether the quality hike would have an impact on prospects and clients. Sales manager Ed Parker, with15 years’ industry experience, had never seen anything like it. He assumed that, to the untrained eye, the quality difference never would be noticeable. He is proud to say that he was wrong.
“It doesn’t matter whether you show a piece printed with :Sublima to a novice or a print specialist; everyone appreciates the textures and richness,” says Parker. “When I explain to my clients what’s behind the results, I help them better understand the value that we can provide.”
Through conversations with customers and contacts, the Ramsey Press team created marketing momentum for its services, which soon led to involvement in several high-profile projects.
Excellent skin hue reproduction
White Magic is an exclusive art exhibit currently traveling the globe to prestigious venues in Hong Kong, London, Milan, Nagoya, Beijing, Dubai, Sydney, Shanghai, Moscow and New York. The exhibit, which was coordinated by the South Sea Pearl Consortium, features one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces designed by 17 international artists.
Programs and portfolios for the exhibition feature photographs of the artwork by Douglas Dubler, one of New York’s leading fashion and beauty photographers. His pictures captured the intricate pearl jewelry decorating the beautiful models in stunning detail, accentuating the variety of designs without distracting from their poignant simplicity.
Ramsey Press was selected to print the portfolios, which included a print of each photograph bound together by a wrap. Dubler was invited to Ramsey Press to approve the first few pieces as they were coming off the press. When he saw the prints, he was impressed. “The print quality was phenomenal,” he says.
His surprise stemmed from the fact that, like so many artists and designers, he had grown used to sub-par reproductions of his work because high resolution photos taken in RGB often lose subtleties when they are converted to CMYK. He was expecting to make similar quality compromises with the White Magic prints as well.
“Skin tones are always the most difficult to reproduce because of the blue and yellow undertones, and often I am disappointed in the way that they turn out,” Dubler explains. “This has been a notable exception. The prints were able to capture life-like skin tones and details in the jewelry, which held up the integrity of the original work.”
Building marketing momentum
Soon after the White Magic project, Ramsey Press was chosen to print a pull-out poster for Graphic Design USA’s annual design competition. In exchange, Ramsey Press received a write-up in the magazine.
Days after the magazine was published, the Ramsey Press staff received a phone call from an executive with a large corporation, who had seen the article. The company was interested in raising the quality of its own materials and invited Ramsey Press to make a presentation.
“We’ve been extremely successful using our quality capabilities as a sales tool,” says Colon. “When we show the print buyers what we can achieve, we gain a competitive advantage instantly.”
During the presentation, the Ramsey Press representative pulled out a print from the White Magic project. The print buyer was amazed. She pulled out a loupe for closer examination and called her colleagues in to look at it.
Ramsey Press walked out of the appointment with a commitment to print all of the company’s materials, a contract worth $200,000 a year. The client even threw out previously printed brochures and folders in favor of the new :Sublima-quality pieces.
Recognition in new markets: The Master Drawings
Ramsey Press’ screening technology and advanced quality capabilities soon led to its recognition in the art reproduction industry, one of the most prestigious printing niches.
Master Drawings is a quarterly journal distributed to world-famous museums such as the Smithsonian, art connoisseurs and collectors, universities, and other intellectual institutions. The only scholarly periodical in the world devoted to the study of draftsmen, draftsmanship and drawings since the Renaissance, each issue of the publication is lavishly illustrated with black-and-white and color reproductions. The quality of these reproductions has been central to Master Drawings’ appeal since its first issue appeared in 1963.
The staff at Master Drawings compared Ramsey Press’ capabilities with its own images and was so impressed that an experiment was run. During an overhaul of its editorial and production departments, last year, Master Drawings tested its readers’ recognition of quality by printing artwork in its publications using different screening techniques. The first issue used regular screening and the second used :Sublima. The third “comparison” issue contained printed image close-ups from the first two issues side-by-side. It explored the effect higher quality has on the overall look and feel of the original art.
The response generated when the comparison issue was released was tremendous. Every comment Master Drawings received from its readers complimented the higher quality of the journal and asked that they print all future journals using :Sublima.
Planning a strategy for the future
Marketing its quality achievements has attracted numerous accounts to Ramsey Press. Not surprisingly, many of the new clients include large corporations whose print buyers have high expectations for print quality. Ramsey Press plans to take that into consideration when it rolls out a more aggressive marketing strategy this year, but also plans to continue to offer next-level quality to customers of all sizes and experience levels.
“We’re considering calling our new campaign ‘Print for People Who Know Print,’ because of the buzz that we’ve created within market niches that understand what creates good printing,” says Pagani. “But, we want every client to know that they can come to us, and they will get the same quality and the same attention we give to our largest accounts.”
On the production side, Ramsey Press has implemented an automated production workflow by connecting its :ApogeeX prepress system to its Hiflex MIS system using JDF. This allows them to automatically send all job data into :ApogeeX, including imposition data. :ApogeeX automatically converts JDF stripping parameters created in Hiflex MIS into imposition templates, on the fly. “We are confident our JDF implementation will lower our administrative costs, reduce errors and speed our turnaround times, which will all benefit our customers,” says Pagani. The implementation of state-of-the-art technologies like :Sublima and JDF are positioning Ramsey Press for a successful future.