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Jun 1, 1997 12:00 AM

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In-plant print shops are a breed apart from other printing organizations. Considering it's hard enough to make a profit when you can solicit the entire area, imagine having your potential customer pool limited to those only in your company. Further, in-plants often must compete with commercial printers during the bidding process.

Two in-plant shops are, however, successfully growing under those conditions: Ohio University Printing Resources (Athens, OH) and MASCO Support Services (Indianapolis, IN). Because the Top 50 Fastest Growing Printers recognizes commercial printing shops, neither shop won a spot on the list, but both deserve recognition for their management and growth.

Ohio University Printing Resources has director David Kasler at the helm. The biggest challenge he has faced is overcoming the shop's reputation for limited capabilities. Two events changed the entire department, says Kasler. First, the shop acquired a two-color Komori, and second, a major printer moved, leaving its experienced staff behind. Kasler quickly picked up the experienced press operators who have taken the two-color Komori and created high quality, award-winning four-color work on it.

Kasler cites an sympathic administrator, vice president for university relations Adrie Nab, as key to the growth. "His approval allowed us to spend a lot of money for new equipment."

Over the next few years, Kasler plans to move the print shop forward even more. "Our goal is to make ourselves needed on campus. We want to enhance our production a great deal. To succeed, we have to move to a more digital solution. Also, we currently have one satellite operation in the college of education. We are looking into having more-perhaps a service center for students or move into digital color copies."

As Kasler cites his primary function to help Ohio University, MASCO Support Services (Delta Faucet) exists to support the family of 92 companies under the MASCO corporate umbrella. The print shop used to be associated solely with Delta Faucet, but has changed its name to reflect its association with all the companies.

According to Terry Alverson, manager of outside accounts, a unique plan is the catalyst for its growth. Called the M & I program, Delta Faucet covers the fixed portion of the shop's expenses (fringes, overhead, electric, water, etc.). Because there is no overhead for MASCO Support Services, the shop is able to quote rates between 35 percent and 50 percent lower than a commercial shop.

According to Alverson, the reason for adopting a new pricing plan was to grow and justify the purchase of new equipment. A major acquisition is on order: a 40-inch Heidelberg press due in July. The press opens up a new market for the shop in the area of annual reports for its sister companies.

Like many other successful companies, MASCO targets the companies it wants to work with. Alverson cites two more reasons for the fast growth: the implementation of a five-year plan and better cost accounting. The cost accounting system runs cost accounting recovery reports, which immediately reveal whether the company is accurately quoting its work. For example, data from the shop floor tells MASCO whether its binder is running at maximum speed and whether the job will be completed in the time quoted.

While in-plants are a breed apart from commercial printers, they can grow the same way: through good management and good planning.