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Fastest Growing Printers:Can-Do Attitude at Copyright Printing

Jun 1, 1998 12:00 AM

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"Who are those guys?" According to Dan Lugo III, that's the question other printers in Austin, Texas, are asking about Copyright Printing. And it's no wonder--Copyright Printing tops our list of Fastest Growing Printers, having gone from $1.3 million in sales in 1995 to $10.9 million for 1997.

Founded in 1991 by John Davidson, Copyright is profiting from a flourishing computer market. Lugo, Copyright's general manager, explains that Dell Computer has played a crucial role in the printer's growth. "Dell Computer is our biggest customer," notes Lugo. "We handle about 350 different products for them--anything from a single-page product information sheet to a perfect-bound book. We also furnish inventory management services."

Dell has four assembly lines in Austin. Copyright works closely with Dell to coordinate the supply of printed materials on hand with Dell's production schedule. Site managers ensure that the necessary document or booklet is stocked in the assembly area. Also, Copyright uses data provided by Dell to forecast its printing requirements.

"We get reports from Dell regarding what systems it will be building," explains Lugo. "We then coordinate the products to go with those systems. We look at those reports and go from there."

Such an agreement requires a certain amount of trust on behalf of both parties. Copyright, for example, must adhere to strict confidentiality agreements--it can't disclose details about the computer company's output or work with a direct competitor of Dell's. For its part, Dell authorizes Copyright to order one month of "inventory." Should a product be delayed or changed, Dell agrees to purchase the inventory and Copyright fulfills it.

Lugo says that the partnership works well for the two companies. "We love getting in there as much as we possibly can," relates the exec. "We'll meet with their engineers and listen to what they want and suggest how it can be done."

Copyright doesn't hesitate going the extra mile. All of Dell's printing is done on recycled stock--Blue Angel Certified. Initially the printer had to go outside of the country to obtain the stock. But according to Lugo, "We just negotiated a very good price. We just partnered with a mill and said, 'This is what we need, this is the volume; let's work together on this.'"

While Dell is a good customer, Copyright is always looking at ways to diversify its customer base. Working with Dell has helped in this regard, because it has schooled the printer on how to work with high-tech customers. "It's opened new markets," says Lugo.

Copyright is shopping for an additional four-color press. It currently has a four-color MAN-Miller, three two-color perfectors, a Ryobi two-color press and a Ryobi perfector. Lugo says a digital press currently doesn't fit Copyright's plans because low-volume four-color jobs are rare. A typical Dell four-color run, for example, is 10,000 or more.

While Copyright is undeniably in the right place at the right time, there are other factors behind its success. "You have to have the right personnel in place, handle the printing a little bit better, control your costs and offer superior delivery," observes Lugo. "We're a new breed--I'm 43 years old and our production manager and sales manager are in their 20s. We bring a fresh approach, a can-do attitude."

Interestingly, Lugo's son, Daniel Lugo IV, is one of the twenty-somethings mentioned by the elder Lugo. The younger Lugo, one of Copyright's first three employees, is the production manager--he brought his dad on board about nine months ago.

"It was a new position," explains the senior Lugo. "Previously John Davidson was doing everything, but our growth is just escalating. He had too much to do and too little time."