Westamerica Communications executives gather outside the Lake Forest, California headquarters.
Southern California has long enjoyed the outstanding service provided individually by both Westamerica Graphics and PSB Integrated Marketing. With a merger agreement signed earlier this year, the new company—Westamerica Communications—brings the best of both businesses into one powerful, full-service marketing communications provider. The merged entity, which now occupies the existing 45,000-square-foot PSB headquarters in Lake Forest, California, employs more than 100 service professionals and posts annual sales of more than $20 million.
The company offers a full portfolio of creative and branding services, online production capabilities, video services, package printing, offset and digital printing, fulfillment, data modeling, and much more. “The timing of this merger was perfect for both companies, and by bringing the two together, we have a unique opportunity to bring new services to both client bases,” explained VP of Marketing, Mark DeBellis. “We had very little account overlap, yet we had great synergies in expertise and equipment. We’ll surely realize economies of scale in the process.”
One of the highlights for the new company is the KODAK NEXPRESS SX3300 Digital Production Color Press with the Long Sheet Option. The NEXPRESS SX Platform achieves speeds up to 131 ppm and features Print Genius, a suite of productivity and quality control tools developed specifically to automate tasks and help printers maintain peak quality throughout the production run. It also supports more than 800 standard offset substrates, and the KODAK NEXPRESS Fifth Imaging Unit Solution enables spot colors, Gold effects, unique in-line dimensional printing, high-quality gloss, inline watermarking and coating in a single pass.
“This press is not just a four-color device—it’s ideal for us because we try to push the limits and we are selling solutions outside the box,” said Doug Grant, President. “We have trained our sales force on our capabilities, and we offer incentives and unique treatments to get clients on board with some of these new features. It’s easy to get them hooked once they see the increased response rates and value.” Westamerica now produces short-run six-panel work that was previously run on an offset press. They also have produced several Dimensional and Gold projects with results that are really impressing clients.
Ken Dunn, Digital Operations Manager, said that management gives the sales force suggestions on various digital opportunities and then proactively creates samples and prototypes for the most unique features. The sales team shares these at each client meeting…always looking for ways to introduce the new items. Dunn believes that clients must actually see and touch these products to really understand their benefits. In fact, the company is planning an event soon to just to show off the many capabilities with the NEXPRESS Press.
“Especially in the early stages, management must be ever vigilant in identifying and responding to sales opportunities in the digital space,” Dunn exclaimed. “Actively sharing samples and embracing a consistent focus on educating clients with mock ups and sample work helps them to understand and appreciate the digital differences.” See Dunn explaining the impact of Gold ink in a video here (http://youtu.be/F0rbOVxQDtg).
Citing the changing nature of client expectations, Grant explained that the NEXPRESS Press allows the company to differentiate itself. “There is a lot more pressure from all clients, which is true everywhere. The days of working with professional print buyers are mostly over. Today’s clients typically don’t care how the job gets done, they just want the results. Their expectations are higher because we spoil them.” The new company is aligned under three key principles: a spirit of ingenuity that keeps it on the forefront of innovation, a spirit of velocity that allows it to efficiently meet client needs and deliver results, and a spirit of confidence that makes it a trusted partner.
The Westamerica Communications name was chosen because it represents the future. The company embraces a full spectrum of communications technologies and channels, offering online and offline products. The team there believes strongly in selling on value rather than price, and efficiency is a big part of the process. The NEXPRESS SX3300 enables them to offer unique, high-impact services that drive results. Grant noted that “free” media is rarely the best solution and the statistics show that effectiveness is declining. Customers are beginning to realize this and are seeing the value in high-quality print.
The client base between the two companies was diverse, with one business serving verticals such as financial services, professional groups and other groups and the other one focusing more on consumer clients needing general commercial printing and packaging. Following the merger, Westamerica Communications jumped from #12 to #6 on the list of top Orange County printers. The company currently runs two shifts, five days a week, but its goal is to run 24/7 in the future.
When asked about other KODAK Solutions that play a role in Westamerica Communications’ business, Dunn noted: “We are pretty much all Kodak across the board. We are migrating everything to the KODAK PRINERGY Workflow, which we find to be very powerful at spreading work out and helping us to maximize our equipment. We also use KODAK Plates for our offset production, and are currently in the process of switching over to the new KODAK SONORA XP Process Free Plates. We are very excited about the performance and efficiency we are seeing there.”
“Westamerica Communications, and the two companies it came from, represent a true graphic communications success story. They embrace technology and use it to overcome the challenges faced by clients,” said Gregory Gresock, Kodak’s Regional Business Manager and Vice President, Electrophotographic Printing Solutions, U.S. and Canada. “The NEXPRESS Press is a great example of how innovative solutions are keeping providers highly competitive and are opening doors to new opportunities every day.”