Imageworks: Adapt, evolve and invest – over $1 million in new technology and renovations

As a small trade printer in a competitive market, Imageworks Print & Prepress faced a critical challenge – evolve quickly or die a slow, painful death of obsolescence. Here’s how it carefully navigated a path less taken to realize exceptional growth and success.

Imageworks (Richmond Hill, Ontario) faced a difficult challenge a few years ago with the emergence of gang-run printers. While it could easily outperform them on quality and service, cutthroat commodity pricing became a serious threat. Its postcard and flyer business was eroding quickly. It tried to compete head-on, but the market was being flooded with new suppliers. “It just wasn’t a battle we wanted to fight,” said Imageworks’ president and partner Anthony Orsi. “Instead of competing with the gang runners, we decided to tackle jobs that wouldn’t fit their niche. And so we built a website to handle the jobs that you won’t find on their websites. Our website allows brokers to quote custom jobs instantly, with custom quantities and custom finishes on a wide variety of papers. It’s built to handle jobs that are intrinsically a bad fit for gang-run printers. So by following a path less taken, we found the path to growth and eventual success.”

$1 million in new equipment, improved automation and major renovations

This need for major change also led to purchasing new print and finishing equipment, upgrades in automation and bold new on-site renovations. The final combined price tag exceeded $1 million. First was the purchase of a Ricoh Pro C9110 Cutsheet Digital Colour Printer to take on more high-volume work. The new Ricoh with a maximum sheet size of 13″ x 27.5″ enabled Imageworks to produce personalized print on thicker substrates – including direct mail, perfect-bound books, posters, and oversize prints.

And because Orsi has always considered finishing just as important as print quality, he made additional investments from Toronto supplier PDS. In fact, it was the largest installation in PDS’ history and consisted of a Duplo 600i Bookletmaker, a DBM600T Face Trimmer, a DKT200 2 Knife Trimmer and a DBM LSW Long Stacker. The 600i produces professional saddle, side, or corner-stitched booklets as well as letter landscape applications. It can output up to 5,200 booklets per hour or collate up to 10,000 sets per hour into a stacker. Imageworks also customized the 600i with a variety of options to fit client needs – such as the DKT-200 Two-Knife Trimmer and Gutter Cutter for 3-side trimming capabilities and 2-up processing. The company also bought a Touchline Multigraf CP375 Duo creasing and perforating solution that can perform up to 20 creases and 20 perforations simultaneously in a single run, as well as a Komfi Amiga 52 Laminator and GBC AP-2 Ultra Wire-O and coil binding punch. While all this was taking place, Orsi was completing $300,000 in ongoing renovations to accommodate the new technology – including a state-of-the art climate control system.

“Old-fashioned” service

During all these massive changes, Orsi and his staff never lost sight of the company’s core values that were established when it opened its doors 24 years ago. For starters, when you phone them, someone actually answers your call in person! “Our customers tell us that they love dealing with us because we’re small, not despite it,” said Orsi. “By embracing custom work, our brokers don’t need to compete directly with gang-runners, and as a result, our brokers enjoy higher markups in a less competitive market.   We’re a helpful partner for copy shops and in-plant print shops – as well as smaller printers whose equipment is too small to produce certain jobs cost-efficiently, and larger printers whose equipment is too large to produce smaller jobs cost-efficiently. I believe those are some of the benefits that set us apart, in addition to our new technology. And because we rely primarily on our print brokers to bring us work, we’re clearly focused on ensuring that they’re profitable. That includes fast turnarounds and longer hours – from 6 am to 1 am Monday to Thursday, and 6 am to 5 pm Friday,” Orsi added.

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