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ARCHIVED  October 8, 1999

Brent White Design bound to cutting edge

LOVELAND – The printing, type-setting and graphical design industries are consolidating. Large, versatile corporations, such as Houston-based Consolidated Graphics Inc. ( NYSE: CGX), are gobbling up the smaller competition as commercial printing services yield more and more to the ever-increasing availability of home-office software solutions.

“The customer is now controlling the process more,” reported Kevin Keane, CEO of the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen. Many firms are losing business from customers opting to do their own graphics and printing at home on their own computer.

But while many graphical printing and layout businesses “are being assaulted by the person at home with Adobe Photoshop,” Keane explained, “the back-end, finishing-process people are providing the things people can’t use software to make happen and are having a sort of renaissance.”

Foremost among Northern Colorado’s back-end trade shops is Brent White Design LLC. Now in its fifth year, the company, which offers die-cut glue-set packaging products, such as specialized CD-sleeves, and binding services, is well on its way to doubling its sales volume for the second time since its founding.

“I don’t anticipate the growth ever stopping,´ said sales manager Patrick White.

Brent White Design has cut out its pattern for success, proving, White noted, that there is a need for specialization in its corner of the industry.

But a renaissance?

The boxlike facility that houses Brent White Design’s operation hardly evokes images of 16th-century Italy, and its shop floor, infested wall to wall with spidery machinery, certainly suggests no marked revolution of concept or innovation. But the small, Loveland-based company, nonetheless, has found both, and through its own specialization, has helped shed new light on an oft overlooked segment of its industry.

“Basically, the printing industry itself thought it would switch around to do everything in-house,” White said, “and they noticed the finishing industry has specialized. It took a lot more than they expected to finish the job, to do all aspects of the business.”

Company accounting manager Paula White agreed. “With some companies, if you spread everything out too far, it gets difficult to keep everything in control,” she said. “I think we can keep costs lower by specializing.”

Steve Schoepflin, purchasing manager for CommuniGraphics Corp. in Denver, has been a client of Brent White Design for three years. He was quick to offer up evidence of the company’s ability to handle unusual requests.

“That’s what they’re known for, being able to do the strange and unusual stuff,” Schoepflin said. “It takes knowing what the machine can do, not just what the manufacturer says it can do.”

Brent White, chief executive member of Brent White Design, says the company gets its share of creative challenges.

“It’s basically using tape and wire to manipulate the paper to have it lift in certain places,” he said. “We still get on the designing side of things to have input on how projects should be laid out and where glue tabs should be. A lot of creative stuff still comes to the door.”

In the beginning, few projects of any kind were coming to the door, but whatever did come along, the company invariably handled.

“We had to take a lot of work that nobody else would take just to stay busy enough to stay in business,” Brent said, recalling an early project – a complicated Jurassic Park display – that became the business’ “catalyst job” and an effective demonstration of the company’s ingenuity.

After 10 years of working in the printing industry, Brent started the business in 1994 with his wife, Paula, and his brother in-law John Bixler. Bixler, a CPA, offered a lot of valuable advice to White, who started the company without a background in business management or stable funding.

“The whole thing’s a big lesson,” Brent said. “Just learning how business works – we couldn’t get a bank loan, so we put it all on credit cards.”

The company grew 50 percent in its first year and had nearly doubled in size by the end of its third, growing steadily by 20 percent each year thereafter.

Bixler left Brent White Design after only six months to pursue an accounting career in Denver, and a year and a half later, Patrick White, Brent’s younger brother, came aboard, contributing a folding machine to the company’s expanding arsenal of production machinery.

Most of the company’s clients are Colorado printers, including Vision Graphics Inc., CommuniGraphics and Quebecor Printing Inc.

“We use them more than half the time,” reported Monte Kelly, vice president of Vision Graphics. “We use them primarily because they beat the delivery schedules they say they can beat and the quality is dependable.”

“There’s a lot of other, smaller shops, but I feel what sets us apart is that we have the bindery as well as the die-cutting and gluing capabilities,” Brent White said.

LOVELAND – The printing, type-setting and graphical design industries are consolidating. Large, versatile corporations, such as Houston-based Consolidated Graphics Inc. ( NYSE: CGX), are gobbling up the smaller competition as commercial printing services yield more and more to the ever-increasing availability of home-office software solutions.

“The customer is now controlling the process more,” reported Kevin Keane, CEO of the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen. Many firms are losing business from customers opting to do their own graphics and printing at home on their own computer.

But while many graphical printing and layout businesses “are being assaulted by the person at home…

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