Friesens investing for the future

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was our prime minister. The world’s first rotary telephone was used in Nova Scotia. And in that same year of 1907 in the small town of Altona, Manitoba, D.W. Friesen opened his first business – a small confectionery store.

Today, employee-owned Friesens Corporation has grown into the largest printer of hardcover books in Canada. It’s also one of the top packaging printers, has nearly 600 employees, and recently added to its 350,000 sq. ft. production facilities. But above all, its success has been due to loyal customers, dedicated staff, long-term relationships with suppliers, and strategic equipment investments from some of the top OEMs in the world.

“We have a proud tradition of staying on the leading edge of technology by imagining what future markets will look like, then investing in the best possible solutions to fill the needs of today and tomorrow,” said Byron Loeppky, general manager at Friesens. “And while we use offset and digital presses from the world’s top manufacturers, our primary technology partner for the past 17 years has been Manroland Sheetfed Canada. The challenge has always been to fully understand each option and what it can and can’t do, to give our customers the best quality product and provide the best value proposition – whether it is a few books or thousands of books.”

Though primarily an offset shop, Friesens has also made major investments in digital technology. However, using LED technology on an offset press will enable faster turnarounds while accommodating different papers – especially uncoated covers with heavy ink coverage. “Our ability to accommodate a broad range of print runs, increase output speeds, achieve plate savings, and accurately estimate a press’s life expectancy, are all keys to our success. We also strive to maintain a very clean facility, which is important to many of our staff and clients,” he added.

Strategic investments from Manroland Sheetfed Canada

In June of 2015, Friesens nearly quadrupled its productivity by installing North America’s largest perfecting press from Manroland – an 8-colour Roland R900 HiPrint XXL with several automation modules. At that time, all of Friesen’s productivity requirements were met via the R900’s 73″-wide XXL format that provided imposition of up to 64 pages and printed both sides in one pass. Friesens could also slit-down a 64-page format into a 2-up, 32-page imposition all inline. Going from 4-page, to 8-page, to 16-page signatures on a 40″ platform, then to 16-page perfected signatures in one pass, it was a natural progression for the company to push existing boundaries with the next step up in size. Press operators could better control colour quality for high-end art books and coffee-table books with the press’s InlineColorPilot technology. Friesens expanded to include books in the 20,000-run realm and increased its catalogue work.

The company also added a packaging division that has since thrived. The company’s think4D division, specializing in tactile packaging, produces exceptional thermoformed-to-print products for some of the largest consumer goods companies in the world. Friesens also produces rigid boxes, die-cut folding boxes, slipcases, presentation boxes, and graduation diploma holders. Plus, all of its packaging products can be custom produced.

Another first – the Roland Evolution

Friesens recently invested in Canada’s first Roland Evolution R708P with LED technology from Manroland Sheetfed Canada – a high-speed perfecting press with the industry’s fastest job turnarounds. Equipped with SAPL (autonomous and simultaneous make-ready feature), Friesens can now exchange plates in less than one minute while simultaneously washing up the press. Its InlineColorPilot allows calibration of the system, including print register, without having to draw a sheet from the delivery, thus reducing make-ready waste and time. However, most important for Friesens is the addition of the optional LED UV upgrade. This is Friesens’ first entry into the UV market for a sheetfed offset press.

“The timing is right to add LED printing to our offset portfolio,” said Steve Voth, press and prepress manager of Friesens. “Although most of our work is produced on coated stock, the necessity was for quicker job turnarounds, running more unique papers that dry slowly, and obtaining some of the requested effects you can achieve when running LED UV.”

Bottom line: The Evolution has taken Friesens’ sheetfed offset capabilities, quality and customer service to the next level. And its future indeed looks bright!

For more information please call Friesens at 1-204-324-6401 or visit