Catching the Scent
Concord Litho, a privately-held $42 million printer in Concord, N.H., has distinguished itself with a variety of specialty finishing techniques to help its core customers increase their direct mail response rates. “Our clients seek cost-effective formats that work in the mail and that test well. We make that an absolute priority for our in-house research and product development efforts, as well as our long-term capital investment plans,” said Ali Westcott, Concord Litho’s director of marketing and communications.
Concord Litho is constantly testing new inks, stocks and formats that often add an engaging, interactive element to the printed piece, from scented varnishes that smell like fresh-cut springtime lawn, to Peel-n-Reveal devices. The firm was the first testing site for Scentisphere microencapsulated scented varnishes more than five years ago. Scentisphere is the exclusive North American distributor of these varnishes, which are made by Flint Ink in conjunction with Scentisphere using a new, patented microencapsulation process named FOLCOScent that has many advantages over other fragrance delivery systems (such as scratch-n-sniff).
“We have a lot of flexibility to experiment, especially with our heat-set webs that are pretty much blinged out with all kinds of in-line finishing capabilities,” said Westcott. “That means a lot of bells and whistles can be added to the piece in one pass through the press. We can create contour shapes and pop-up boxes for unique dimensional direct mail, cool Zip-Strips, perfed coupons, stepped booklets, removable temporary membership cards—you name it. A huge advantage is that a project can come off the press personalized and addressed with our in-line inkjet system, sealed with an easy-to-open glue line so you can avoid those ugly new tabbed wafer requirements that make it so hard to open the piece without damaging it.”
Westcott said Concord Litho started out as a large commercial greeting card company more than 50 years ago, but anticipated marketplace changes and shifted focus in the late 1970s by concentrating on high-volume heat-set web printing with extensive in-line finishing, perfect for direct mail products, FSIs, high-impact magazine inserts and more.
“Concord Litho was breaking new ground and pushing the limits of what could be done in-line on the webs even way-back then... It’s a very strong part of our history,” Westcott said, but she’s also quick to point out the company’s sheetfed printing division still plays an important role in the company’s offerings, especially for large-format retail point-of-purchase signage up to 64 inches, and certain products that non-profit organizations rely on to help raise funds. “We still print a billion greeting cards a year, and we are always trying out new substrates, printing techniques and inks that make signage stand out, last longer in the space and ways to make the cards unique, from pearlescent inks to our near-famous application of scented varnishes.” Over time the company has also added a bindery, a kitting and fulfillment center and variety of additional equipment to better serve its customers, she noted.
Concord Litho has invested $20 million in the facility and its equipment in the past decade, according to Westcott, most recently a $2 million investment in in-line inkjet equipment and additional in-line functions such as contour die-cutting that allows it to create even more complex pieces and sophisticated direct mail formats.
A Lenticular World
A year after installing its KBA Genius 52 UV press, Accurate Plastic Printers, a high-quality custom plastic printer located in Clifton, N.J., is enticing clients with its newly-minted lenticular products. Carlos Agudelo, founder and president of Accurate Plastic Printers, has had the new press running non-stop producing plastic business cards, membership cards, ID cards, benefit cards, library cards, promotional items, shelf talkers and danglers, signs, tags, door hangers, rulers and circular calculators.