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Fastest Growing Printers:Smooth Process at Cedar Graphics

Jun 1, 1998 12:00 AM

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Joanne Herman could not have dreamed Cedar Graphics would become the largest waterless sheet-fed printer in the country when she borrowed $2,000 from her grandmother to start a bare-bones prepress service in 1976.

Working out of a rented basement on Long Island, Herman, who had just gotten a degree in graphic arts, handled the "front office," while her husband, Robert, who had a background in printing, produced film and plates for other printers.

"We ate, drank and slept Cedar Graphics together and hoped for the best," recalls Herman, now running a 270-employee company from a 90,000-sq.-ft. showroom printing facility along a busy industrial corridor in Ronkonkoma, NY near Long Island's MacArthur Airport. "We always believed that with our combined talents, the right attitude and determination we could succeed."

With sales of $30 million last year, the full-service commercial printer's winning formula in a very segmented industry has proven to be its low prices for top-quality work, not to mention its convenience of offering one-stop service from photography through diecutting, binding and delivery.

The commitment to producing the highest-quality brochures, catalogs, books and annual reports for its growing clientele is evidenced by the printer's state-of-the-art equipment at both its headquarters and its Manhattan satellite plant, opened in 1987 to handle New York City customers right from their downtown.

Cedar Graphics, which came in at number 37 in American Printer's Top 50 Fastest Growing Printers list, employs 14 sheet-fed presses ranging from two-color to seven-color, plus a Heidelberg Quickmaster DI press. In addition, it has enhanced coating capabilities with the purchase of a Sakurai DX-5000, aimed at giving customers a more durable UV lamination and accurate spot lamination for their printed pieces.

The finishing department is equipped with cutters, folders, saddlestitching, diecutting and ancillary equipment. Throughout the finishing service are quality-control checkpoints. State-of-the-art machinery such as the Bobst Media 100-II folder gluer allows a broader spectrum of offered services.

The installation of digital photography studios at both plants is all part of Cedar's goal of implementing technologies that lower customer costs while maintaining the highest-quality results.

"Our proven expertise in high-end electronic prepress and printing makes the whole process smooth and seamless," says Kathleen Graham, director of sales and marketing. "So much time is cut from the traditional workflow that you can literally walk out of the door with your printed piece only hours after arriving for the photo shoot."

Among its local distinctions on highly industrialized Long Island, Cedar Graphics was recognized last year as the third-largest commercial printing firm, the 10th fastest growing private company, one of the top 50 fastest-growing technology firms and is the sixth-largest woman-owned business. President Herman credits her husband, now vice president, and partner vice president in Manhattan, Mike Clark, for making her job much easier.

"I am surrounded by the best minds in the industry," she says. "My husband and I decided to start our own business because we felt that we could provide better service than our competitors were offering at that time. Our plan for the future is to keep doing what we do best, printing so economically, and with such high quality and speed, we will never lack customers. When you can do that, that's the true key to success."