By January 2012, Excell Color Graphics based in Fort Wayne, IN, had reached a point where management felt that despite the company’s excellent reputation and business success, it was high time for a change.
“We felt that technology had passed us by and that we soon would be struggling to keep up with the rest of the industry,” said Tom Parrot, President and part owner. “Our newest press was a 1997 model, and our customers had begun to push us to shorten our delivery times and keep costs down. We were doing very well, but didn’t feel we’d be able to sustain that momentum. It was time for us to upgrade.”
There were issues to resolve before selecting a new press, however. The company had never received a very high level of support from its former sheetfed vendor, and was looking to rectify that situation, in part, by simplifying its supplier relationships.
“We’d spent years pleading for advice and support, and were tired of unproductive vendor meetings and endless finger-pointing among our suppliers,” Parrot said. “As soon as we became aware of Heidelberg’s (Booth 1214) ability to become our single-source supplier, we were more than eager to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The company has pushed hard over the past seven months to update its operation with all-new Heidelberg technology and to exercise that valuable single-source advantage.
Excell’s journey began with the installation of a 6-color Speedmaster XL 105, along with Prinect Prepress Manager prepress workflow “to drive the XL 105 properly,” Parrot said. “It’s amazing how fast we’ve been able to drive down our labor and material costs.”
Makeready shop makes good
For the self-described “makeready shop” whose sweet spot is short-to-medium-run jobs, makereadies are down from one-and-a-half hours and saleable color is achieved in 200 sheets or fewer. Overtime, which once averaged 20 hours per operator per week, is a thing of the past.
The company uses a Suprasetter CtP device to burn plates for the Peak Performance press. Prinect Prepress Manager workflow helps standardize the input of customer files.
Another area the company has sought to standardize is its consumables usage. With the installation of the new XL 105, it now uses Heidelberg Saphira consumables exclusively, including Saphira plates and pressroom supplies.
“What a relief,” Parrot said. “We can relax and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the combination of Saphira consumables and Heidelberg expertise is helping us to stabilize production.”
All this and profit, too
Already a dominant commercial player in the Fort Wayne area, Excell Color Graphics is feeling confident enough these days to consider expanding into the statewide and regional marketplace.
In the meantime, the company is relishing the first fruits of the upgrade. ”We’ve done well in these crazy times, and we had a great reputation to start with,” Parrot said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that Heidelberg equipment, workflow, and consumables will make it easier for us to stay on top. Now we can satisfy our customers and make money,” he quipped.