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Spring 2014: Focus Forward - Go to the Head of the Class

A ONCE FAILING IN-PLANT IS NOW ON THE DEAN’S LIST, THANKS TO SOME VETERAN LEADERSHIP

BY THE AMERICAN PRINTER STAFF

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since 2012, Xerox has been conducting a series of Focus Forward events across the county, featuring interviews with regional digital printers, marketers and industry analysts. At PRINT 13, Jim Hamilton, Group Director of Production Hardware Consulting at InfoTrends, and Bob Tapella, President of GreensheetBIZ, hosted a special roundtable for in-plant print leaders and others interested in new ways to enhance their print centers. We recently had a chance to catch up with one participant from the Chicago gathering, Garry Boytos, Director of Printing Services at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

If you spend a few minutes talking to Garry Boytos, you’ll quickly learn he is passionate about printing and customer service and that he loves a challenge. All of these qualities were invaluable when he took charge of the in-plant operation at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UT) six years ago. In 2008, the in-plant lacked a cohesive workflow—people and production resources weren’t utilized efficiently. Simple orders often required a disproportionate amount of paperwork, and most employees did little to help customers overcome this and other bureaucratic roadblocks. Indeed, many potential university customers found it easier to take their business to Kinkos.

A SAVVY VETERAN

Faced with these considerable challenges, someone else might have immediately implemented sweeping reforms. But, drawing on his industry experience with CGX, Cenveo and other commercial printers, Boytos took a more measured approach. “I’m 53 years old,” he says. “I’ve sold print, managed production and run equipment. Instead of making massive changes, I stood back and watched.”

After observing the operation for six months, he launched his plan. “I matched weak employees with strong ones,” Boytos recalls. “I didn’t want a mutiny—I made gradual changes to ensure I had their buy-in.”

One of his first priorities was to design and implement a job-tracking system—previously, there had been no way to determine a job’s status. “There was no schedule or plan,” he says. “The customer who yelled loudest got their work first. Overtime was rampant.”

ALL BUSINESS

In 2008, UT’s in-plant operation had 26 employees and was unprofitable. Today, it has 14 employees and a much wider range of services. And, perhaps most significantly, it now commands a 35% profit margin on most jobs. “I stress to all of our people that we are not a necessity but a luxury,” Boytos says. “We’re spending taxpayers’ dollars, so we have to do our work better, faster and cheaper than anyone else.”

Boytos’ approach to running UT’s printing operation is heavily influenced by the 30 years he spent in sales, customer service, estimating, production and management roles with commercial printers. “An in-plant is a business, and it must be run like one,” he says. “You’ve got to watch your expenses, your overhead and waste and understand how to maximize operational efficiencies. A lot of in-plant managers don’t understand how to run a profitable operation. They’ll say, ‘Well, as long as we break even, that’s the main thing.’ They overcharge and don’t have good service, and ultimately management determines outsourcing is cheaper and shuts the in-plant down.”

To streamline job production, Boytos brought together the UT’s copy center and print division. Digital equipment highlights include a Xerox Nuvera 144 EA as well as a Xerox Nuvera 4112 enterprise printing system. The offset lineup includes a four-color Heidelberg MO perfector press, an AB Dick 9985 and a Ryobi 3685, both of which are two-color machines. Wide-format capabilities include one HP DesignJet 5500 and two DesignJet 6500s.

WIDE-FORMAT GOLDMINE

Originally, a different UT department handled wide-format work, but Boytos was asked to take it over. The original setup—the 5500 and two full-time employees to run it—made a scant $2,000 per month, resulting in huge annual losses. Boytos evaluated the equipment and personnel. He determined that one employee could handle the workload and also found new wide-format opportunities by switching to UV inks and using an expanded range of substrates, including canvas and window-perf materials. The UT Print department now does a brisk business in research posters—which won’t fade, thanks to the UV inks—retractable banners and art prints. Wide-format revenues are now about $12,000 every month—a dramatic bottom line improvement.

Boytos discovered one of UT Print’s latest additions, an AnaJet digital apparel printer, at PRINT 13. Installed a few months ago, the direct-to-garment printer has already cranked out 5,500 two-sided “Future Doctor” t-shirts for the university’s annual community outreach program. Volleyball tournaments and the hockey team’s fundraiser have also featured shirts that are hot off the in-plant’s press.

Thanks to an embroidery machine, Boytos’ team can also produce polo shirts and jackets sporting the UT logo. Need a coffee mug for your campus event? Garry and his staff are happy to oblige. “We want to be a one-stop provider,” Boytos says. “Some of these things are not huge revenue generators, but they get people in the door.”  

MAY WE HELP YOU?

One of Boytos’ proudest accomplishments is changing UT Print’s culture from a passive, insular department to a proactive, problem-solving partner for its customers. “How can we help you?” is the in-plant’s unofficial motto. In the old days, if someone called the in-plant, nothing happened until the caller provided the appropriate billing code and submitted the necessary paperwork. Now, Boytos urges his staff to let common sense—and excellent customer service—prevail, as illustrated by his response after getting an urgent phone call from the dean’s office. A van carrying the easels for a high-level meeting had broken down miles away from campus. Could Boytos help? The meeting was taking place that day—with no time to lose, Boytos phoned another department in search of easels. “Well, I need to bill you” was the response. Improvising, Boytos located another on-campus easel source and personally delivered them. The next day, long after the meeting’s successful conclusion, Boytos called the dean’s office to settle the billing issue. His contact was so pleased she sent an email to the university’s chief of staff. “This should be the model for every department on campus,” she wrote.

Boytos notes that good customer service not only builds a loyal customer base, it promotes self-preservation. “If you win over the vice president and president, it’s a defense against outsourcing. They’ll say, ‘No, we’ve got the best people in place. We can’t justify a change.’”

GARRY’S GOLDEN RULES

  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Be a one-stop provider.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Be the first one a customer calls, not the last resort.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Be a problem solver.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Be the branding police—upholding the university’s identity/style guide can lead to more opportunities.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Make it easy to do business with you.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Don’t let the customer go to Kinkos.

Garry Boytos joined other top in-plant print centers from around the US in sharing their best advice at PRINT 13 in this panel hosted by Rochester Software Associates. Take a look! Key B2Me.me/D26

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