Up to Speed

Published Saturday, 22 May, 2010

(As seen in Print Professional magazine - May 2010)

Up to Speed
by Melissa Busch


The competition has nothing on Boston-headquartered 48hourprint.com.


Well, that's the way the company's president and CEO Ray Pinard  explained it. His company can compete with most quick print firms because almost all of its products are offered in low quantities, digitally. And, orders are filled almost as quick as customers can place them.


"Short-run 'print and cut' products have a 24-hour print turnaround time," Pinard continued. "All other products with the exception of custom quotes have a 48-hour print turnaround time. Turnaround time is defined as 24 or 48 hours after we receive your approved proof."


For example, if a job is received by 5 p.m. Monday, it will be shipped by close of business Tuesday or Wednesday. He elaborated, saying since all of its business is conducted online, customers can upload their files from their home or office.

"Our volumes allow us to be very competitive in pricing," Pinard stated. "Our quality is top notch [with a] less than 1 percent redo rate. The industry is about 5 percent. Our customer service and technical teams are experienced handling customer inquiries, from handling new customers through very sophisticated projects. Since our facilities are owned by us, [which are] located in Cleveland and Phoenix, we control the entire experience with our customers. With the strategically located facilities, finished product normally reaches our customers in three shipping days."


But if he had to get to the nitty, gritty of it, Pinard declared beating out the competition boils down to three things.


"The top three differentiators that keep people coming back to us, and help us acquire new customers are: price, quality and turnaround time. Our production capabilities are state of the art, 2005 and 2007 LS630 presses, one in our Cleveland facility and the other in our Phoenix facility. MGI digital presses are also located one in each facility."


Dean Lerch , vice president of sales and marketing of Riverside, California-based PartnerPrinting.com, explained his company, which sells only to print resellers, is a cut above the rest.


"No other trade and non-trade printers have the sophisticated web-to-print technology that we brand for our trade customers providing them a turnkey, yet technologically advanced point of purchase retail website program, unlike any other in the print industry today," he summed up.


It also comes down to the latest and greatest products PartnerPrinting.com is offering.


Lerch noted the company has a state-of-the-art wholesale to retail online quote generator, calling it the "fastest and best quote system in the print industry." He added, the company offers more than 27 paper stocks and four coating ?options, nine recycled paper stocks (including those printed with eco-friendly vegetable-based inks, 10 premium #1 rated paper stocks, free custom cutting option, custom drilling and perforating options, shrink wrapping option, print, bindery and full mailing services department under one roof.


In addition, it offers same day and next day service options, online design studio and low price and price match guarantees.


"To keep up with market ?demands, we are adding digital presses (short run and VDP, short book runs) and wide format presses (banners, signs, billboards, trade show products) in June," Lerch said.


And if that wasn't enough, to better serve customers, PartnerPrinting.com will be expanding. Lerch reported its Riverside, Calif. facility will be moving in June from a 40,000-sq.-ft. facility to one that is 124,000-sq.-ft. It also has a new 90,000-sq.-ft. production facility opening this summer.

As for 48hourprint.com, Pinard explained it continues to add approximately one to two products per month based on customer demand.


"We purchase new and the latest in machinery and technology insuring quality products," Pinard noted. "We invest a lot in training."


And, fortunately, for both companies the recession hasn't stopped them from making things happen.


"Our business was flat, volume wise for about 12 months during the height of the recent recession," Lerch stated. "However, our market share (average number of buying customers) grew by 40 percent during this period. But since our average order went down, we were selling more orders, to more customers than ever before but ?at a lower average order amount. Basically, we gained more customers but they were buying less, ?as was the case for their budget-conscious end-users."


PartnerPrinting.com also did not have to cut staff or close any plants. Lerch believes the key to getting through the recession unscathed was making tough decisions and focusing on customer service.


"We advertised more than ever during the 12-month nucleus of the recession," he said. "We added more customer service personnel and provided easy access, live customer service. We lowered our pricing wherever possible and we offered more stocks, options and value-added services to our offering that set us apart from the competition."


The economy did not play a major role at 48hourprint.com, Pinard remarked.


"In 2009 we trimmed a little and ended the year better than 2008. Our head count has grown by 15 people thus far this year. We expect 2010 will be better than 2009 in all regards."


So what do they think is on the table for the future?


Well, industry experts say print in general is declining at 1 percent per year, according to Pinard.


"Online printing is forecasted to grow 9 percent per year," Pinard said. "Our growth exceeds 9 percent. We expect the online market to continue growing rapidly as more people are looking for convenience and the Internet continues to grow as a major part in how people do business."

Lerch's predictions for the future are pretty grim.


"Commercial offset printing will face moderate decreases and offset printers will continue to erode (close or merge). The attrition of the number of total trade resellers will continue to affect the industry. There will be a bigger piece of a shrinking pie for those offset printers that have a niche market or business model that is unique. PartnerPrinting.com is transforming from a printing company to a marketing company with a technology engine that will revolutionize the web to print market as we know it today," he said.


On a final note, Pinard said, "To be successful in online printing you need to constantly innovate, streamline, improve processes and be highly automated. We invest in the best people to help us accomplish these goals."