Don Kallil, a former stockbroker at Merrill Lynch in Chicago, found that his childhood dream of being an entrepreneur was stronger than his passion for stocks and bonds. His first company, Design Design, Inc., was founded in 1987. Most recently, Kallil has started up an independent printing company, Verdant Graphics, whose first customer is Design Design.
Design Design designs, produces, manufactures and distributes items such as greeting cards, invitations, laser paper, notepads and other stationery and gift items, wholesaling these items to more than 12,000 retail doors ranging from Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy’s to independent stationers and gift shops.
“We went to Print 09,” says Kallil, “looking for the right set of solutions for our new printing business. After three intensive days at the show, we had gathered a great deal of information. One of the biggest challenges for us was the fact that, even though we have been outsourcing Design Design’s printing requirements, none of us had a printing background. There was a lot to learn.”
Kallil sees the lack of a printing background as an advantage. “We come to the table with no baggage and no preconceived notions,” he explains. “That allowed us to keep a very open mind with respect to building a configuration and workflow for our business today that will also serve our future expansion needs.”
Kallil decided to acquire a Presstek 52DI digital offset press as the centerpiece for his new operation, which now has nine employees. Kali explains, “I personally feel it is the wave of the future in printing. It allows us to do shorter runs, which was very appealing to me. The quality is excellent, and it is environmentally appealing as well. It hardly uses any chemicals, very little water, washups are fast and clean, and there is very little paper waste.”
Verdant Graphics also purchased two 2-color Ryobi 3302 conventional offset presses and a 2-color Heidleberg Quickmaster, supported by a Presstek DPM400 Pro for platemaking. In addition to high quality four-color printing, Verdant Graphics offers thermography, foil stamping, die cutting, glittering, folding, cutting, collating and stitching.
Kali adds, “that since we have no background in print we opted to purchase Presstek Latitude. This Esko-based workflow solution allows us to automatically prepare our files for the DI press, including sheet imposition. It makes the process very simple and streamlined.”
Kallil plans to add a second shift, and to begin offering commercial printing services in his community as well as specialty printing to the trade. "We believe we can find a good customer base because of the quality we offer with the DI press, the speed of turnaround and the ability to deliver cost-effective short runs," says Kalil. "Our unique finishing capabilities will also be a plus as we move to expand our customer base."