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Westport: exceeding expectations

Sep 1, 2001 12:00 AM

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I spent 10 years in the newspaper advertising business before starting this company from scratch,” recalls Westport Printing & Fulfillment owner Larry Steinman. “I didn't know anything about paper or how to run a press or a folder, but I knew I could manage people and sell print.”

Steinman adds that leaving corporate politics behind and starting his own business enabled him to focus on satisfying customer needs, building sales and developing employees.

Adding fulfillment services has contributed to the printer's steady growth (see related article on p. 48). Here's a firsthand look at Westport Printing & Fulfillment's operation.

How are you growing your business?

We focus on satisfying customer needs and we make it easy for them to buy printing. Our customers know they can get pricing, typesetting and delivery of the finished job with a minimal investment of time.

Adding fulfillment services made it even easier for customers to buy from us. Customers with multiple offices or who needed to distribute product data sheets, marketing materials, binders or stationery items to their sales force or customers, know they can order from us and virtually forget about it.

We've always added value to our printing. Recently a prospective client bragged about buying full-color postcards from a website for $300 less than our quote. We pointed out that his response rate would have been significantly better had we printed the card with his phone number above the lower .5 inch where the USPS puts its bar code. He was flabbergasted — his phone number was illegible on the mailed card. The Internet vendor just took his file and printed it.

When did you add fulfillment services?
Tell us about a typical job.

Three years ago, when we took over an in-plant print shop, we got into fulfillment in a big way.

On any given day, we ship a set of business cards or a whole stationery set. Sometimes we ship 100 packages of varying sizes, and sometimes it's just a few. Nothing is typical. If there was a typical order or it was easy to do, customers would not need us.

Any advice for commercial printers considering adding fulfillment services?

Make sure your warehousing and staffing requirements are proportionate to the revenue generated. In other words, make enough money per sq. ft. or don't tie up the space or add staff to accommodate widely fluctuating customer demand.

Have you taken any special steps to deal with a slowing economy?

We've always avoided doing business with companies of questionable financial character and fuzzy profit potential.

We're about to deliver a promotional piece to our existing customers, thanking them for 18 years of business and reminding them of our capabilities. We're trying to maximize revenue from existing customers as well as show our appreciation for their confidence.

How are you staying state-of-the art?

Two years ago we quit wrestling with our old duplicators and replaced them with a two-color Heidelberg Quickmaster. Last month we passed five million (two-up) impressions! No more fighting every setup or color change. Our press operator loads the plate and runs. We'd also like to go computer-to-plate as soon as we can find the sq. footage.

What service would you like most to add?

We'd like to barcode all jobs, and provide online inventory access and ordering for our customers.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Three years ago, we dismantled an in-plant print shop previously owned by a subsidiary of a NASDAQ company. We moved it to our redesigned shop, reassembled it and got the presses running in less than a week. We did it all without missing a beat.

The ultimate accomplishment is when a customer and their customers compliment you for exceeding their expectations!

Do you have a success story? We want to hear from you. E-mail us at:, and give us a brief description of your printing company. You could be next in the “Spotlight…”

Westport Printing & Fulfillment
Maryland Heights, MO
Larry Steinman, owner
$1 million
Printing and distribution of multicolor stationery and marketing materials