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It's a pip

Nov 1, 2007 12:00 AM

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After spending two decades in corporate America, some people would be ready to pack their bags for Florida or Arizona. But Ernie Lederer wasn't ready to retire. The former telecommunications executive had no prior printing experience but was intrigued by the opportunity to acquire a 10-employee PIP Printing & Document Services franchise in Springfield, VA.

Four-color gap

Lederer bought the business two years ago. The $1.2 million, 21-year-old company's client base includes associations, religious organizations and government contractors. The original setup included two two-color presses (one Heidelberg and one Itek) as well as a color and monochrome copier.

The Heidelberg press handled the lion's share of the company's two-color jobs. “I didn't think we had a hole,” says Lederer. “We were brokering out the occasional four-color job for long-standing customers, and our wholesaler did a very good job for us.”

As part of an aggressive growth strategy, Lederer hired a salesperson and the company began pursuing new customers. But the PIP branch found its prices weren't competitive. “We were bidding on some big jobs, but with our outsourcing proceess, we weren't getting them,” Lederer explains. “We were usually off by about the amount we had to mark up the work coming from the wholesaler.”

The franchisor suggested Lederer consider adding a toner-based digital printer to boost his color power while also adding variable data capabilities. Lederer thought an offset press would be a better fit. “If I were a printer that had a lot of direct marketing clients or companies that did a lot of printing that required variable data, it would be more attractive. But that wasn't the case with my business.”

When a Presstek salesperson visited, Lederer asked her to spare the technical details of the 34DI and stress the economic benefits. She made a convincing case and Lederer spoke to other 34DI users who reinforced it. Lederer's production manager attended a demo and offered a positive review. PIP installed the DI press in October 2006.

Exceeding expectations

A significant amount of work has transferred from PIP's digital color copier, dramatically reducing click charges. And, as Lederer hoped, the company is winning more business with the Presstek 34DI: “Within the first four months, or so, we had the DI press running full-time, five days a week, attracting a significant amount of new business with very little marketing effort, simply by virtue of having the technology and being able to competitively produce such high quality printing. The revenue it is generating has exceeded my expectations.”