Kodak in mid-October celebrated the opening of its first-ever “live” Digital Production Demo Center located at ImageMark, an 110,000 square-foot full-service printing facility in Gastonia, NC. The on-site facility will give potential Kodak customers the opportunity to see various types of Kodak digital production equipment in action in a “real world” daily production environment.
Dozens of printing company executives, along with industry and local media, were invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 17 at the ImageMark plant. Among the Kodak equipment installed and running were the NexPress SX3900, the NexPress S3000, the Digimaster EX 125, and the Magnus 400 CTP platesetter. Also featured were Kodak’s Prinergy workflow solution and its thermal direct process-free plate technology.
“We are enthusiastic about what Kodak brings to the market and our unique partnership,” said ImageMark president Walter Payne.
Unlike most technology demo centers where conditions are carefully calibrated and controlled, this new working demo center will enable visitors to directly observe actual live production jobs running on the various Kodak output devices. They will be able to ask production operators specific questions that might not arise in more controlled circumstances. Does any part of the process need special attention? How do you troubleshoot software or hardware glitches if they arise? Are there any tricks or techniques to running particular types of jobs? What, if any, are some shortcuts that have worked for you? In other words, how does it perform when the bottom line is on the line?
Wide Ranging Capabilities
Among ImageMark’s capabilities are: digital workflow infrastructure, Web-to-print, digital printing, wide-format printing, offset printing, fulfillment, kitting, distribution, and mailing services. According to ImageMark’s executive vice president Karen Kaufman, the 65-employeee company realizes about 65 percent of its sales from digital printing. That provides a wide range of job types that can be featured in the new demo center.
About half of digital jobs arrive via the company’s Web-to-print system. According to Kaufman, ImageMark serves corporations nationwide with sophisticated strategies that involve Internet, email, design, customized storefronts, on demand Web-to-print ordering, and printing.
ImageMark counts several Fortune 500 companies among its customers. Kaufman emphasizes that the company is working to convince customers to bring business back to the United States from overseas. She recently told the local business journal that one contract in the works could possibly result in bringing more than $1 million in printing back to the US from China.
Growing with Opportunities
The company was founded as a small printer in 1924 and for 50 years provided traditional printing to North Carolina businesses. In 1996, Walter Payne purchased this business and renamed it ImageMark. While Payne had no printing background, his business experience enabled him to see where the printing industry was headed. He immediately added direct mail and, as on-demand opportunities arose, he re-tooled the company to meet that challenge. ImageMark was among the first to implement color digital technology, purchasing its first NexPress in 2003.
Last year, the company bought Imperial Printing Products in Charlotte, NC, and merged its operations into ImageMark. The company moved into its current 110,000 square-foot facility in May.
Payton believes ImageMark will add as many as 25 employees to its 65-member workforce over the next five years. The growth of three customer sectors—healthcare, after-market automotive, and universities—will create more demand for the company, he says.
Watch a video of the grand opening of the Kodak Digital Production Demo Center at ImageMark.