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ARCHIVED  February 1, 1997

Huge contracts a boon to local printing firms

Landing a large printing account from one of Northern Colorado’s bigger companies could be likened to winning the lottery.Companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Symbios Logic Inc. and Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., to name just a few, regularly solicit the service of printers in Greeley and Fort Collins, contracting out jobs sometimes worth upwards of a million dollars.
“We like to patronize the local businesses when it’s possible to do so from a cost-effective standpoint,´ said Lea Schwartz, spokeswoman for Symbios.
While Symbios Logic, like many large companies, uses a combination of local and national printers, she said that of the printing she contracts out, more that half goes to local printers.
“We’ve been going through The Jensen Group a lot because they manage the projects,” she explained. “But if we go out to a printer directly to get something printed that we’ve produced, then we’ll go to somebody local like Pioneer [Impressions].”
So what do these companies look for when contracting with a local printer?
“You have do be able to do it all inhouse,´ said Dave Shafer, president of Citizen Printing Co. Inc. of Fort Collins. “We do the artwork inhouse, and we do the color separation here, too. You have to make their job very easy. You have to think for them, you have to know what it is they want, because print buyers come and go.”
Scwartz concurs. “Quality and cost effectiveness are the main things for us,” she said. “Depending on what the piece is that we’re actually thinking about getting printed, we can go for an office that has design layout or electronic capabilities to send us files back and forth electronically.
“For things that are more cut and dried,” she added, “that just need to be printed, we could go to any number of local printers. And it depends on whether we need creativity and design or whether it’s something we’ve done in house with our own desktop capability.”
The ability of a printer to offer a wide variety of services is an attractive feature as well. Citizen Printing staffs its own art department and illustrators to work with clients such as Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. to design and print manuals and newsletters.
Vision Graphics’ ability to do things inhouse gives it a quicker turnaround time, which has led to accounts with such clients as Hewlett-Packard, Hach Co. in Loveland, and Samsonite in Denver.
“How we market ourselves is we try to produce a high-quality product with a reasonable price that we can get done very quickly,´ said Vision Graphics president Mark Steputis. “Our delivery turnaround policy is to ask the client when they need it. Most printers have a standard turnaround of 10 days or two weeks. So I think that probably gets us more work because clients are not concerned as to whether or not we’re going to deliver on time. Printers notoriously have a reputation for being late, but we’ve worked really hard to overcome that.”
Landing a large contract can help local printers in a number of ways.
“We have one national account that runs a million dollars,´ said Citizen Printing’s Shafer. “That actually takes the ebbs and flows and the ups and downs of the local economy away.”
Having a large anchor account in turn allows Citizen a degree of flexibility when bidding on other projects.
“We can afford to be a little more competitive on local accounts,” he said. “So indirectly, these large accounts let you do a better job on local accounts.” Citizen tries to keep its larger national accounts to about 40 percent of its business.
Most of the large accounts in Northern Colorado aren’t given to a certain printer or even to a select group of printers.
“I think a lot of that work gets moved around,´ said Vision Graphics’ Steputis. Kendall Printing in Greeley, Citizen Printing, Vision Graphics in Cheyenne, Pioneer Press of Greeley, and Choice Printing are only some of the local printers with large accounts.
But often, landing these accounts isn’t the hardest part of the process.
“The real important thing is to get on the bid list,” Steputis explained. “These companies don’t give you a contract and say ‘here’s the work.’ Each job, typically, is bid on. So when you approach these companies, getting on the list is what you’re really hoping to land.”
That can be particularly difficult with large firms, which are often called on by dozens of local and national printers vying to serve their often sizable printing needs. Many don’t have the time or interest to meet with new printers.
“There’s got to be a need,” Steputis pointed out. “Just because I’m a great printer doesn’t mean a client needs a new one.”
Innovations in desktop publishing are also making it more difficult for printers to land contracts with large firms, who increasingly prefer to do their own publishing when possible.
“With the advent of desktop publishing, our outside (printing) needs are greatly diminished,´ said Anheuser-Busch spokesman Pete Webb. “It is more cost-effective and it’s more timely when produced inhouse, run off on laser printers, and then duplicated as needed in the office-services center of the brewery.”
And although Anheuser-Busch still prints their monthly newsletter through Citizen Printing, that’s practically all that remains of their local printing needs.
“We’re contracting out much less work to printers now simply because of our desktop publishing capabilities,” Webb said.
If that trend continues, printers will have to compete harder to get the large accounts that still remain. But regardless of innovations in desktop publishing, the bottom line for local printers remains the same. Said Steputis, “It’s still reputation and perceived image as to who you are, what you do, and are you good.”
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Landing a large printing account from one of Northern Colorado’s bigger companies could be likened to winning the lottery.Companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Symbios Logic Inc. and Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., to name just a few, regularly solicit the service of printers in Greeley and Fort Collins, contracting out jobs sometimes worth upwards of a million dollars.
“We like to patronize the local businesses when it’s possible to do so from a cost-effective standpoint,´ said Lea Schwartz, spokeswoman for Symbios.
While Symbios Logic, like many large companies, uses a combination of local and national printers, she said that of the printing…

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