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Cruising to the lead

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Phoenix Marketing never wanted to be pigeonholed. It is not just a prepress and printing shop — which is why the word “marketing” was included early in its history. The 30-year-old, 150-employee firm is a complete marketing communications company, and as a result, Phoenix is flying high as a leader in its Southern California base for the diverse, high-end clients it serves. The firm has been serving the cruise ship industry almost from the day it opened its doors.

From a 100,000-sq.-ft. facility in Claremont, CA, Phoenix provides everything a client needs to market its own products and services, including campaign design, prepress, printing, Web and fulfillment services. The firm produces collateral, catalogs and corporate identity print, as well as multimedia, packaging and Web design.

Phoenix finds communication with its suppliers is integral to achieving success with product and technology decisions. Similarly, communication with clients cannot be underestimated. For instance, the firm speaks with client Princess Cruises on a daily basis to make sure all challenges are being met and all goals are being reached.

“We have a great understanding of all the kinds of jobs they have, and we're well equipped to do anything they throw at us,” prepress manager Jamie Richards explains. “We do seven or eight high-end marketing books each year, which they call destination brochures. There's a lot of color work. We might do 100 hours per book in Photoshop work alone. Even before the document comes in, they throw images at us, and we compose them, color track them and manipulate them. It's basically nonstop.

“We are able to understand what the customers really want, and we'll turn it around in a timeframe and at a quality that they won't be able to get at other service providers,” Richards adds. “Our salespeople don't go to prospective clients and simply quote printing. Instead, they find out exactly what their marketing needs are and then show them how we can fulfill those needs, in addition to doing all of their printing.”

Phoenix operates under the philosophy that today's marketing realities often are tough — and it is imperative for a service provider to be able to handle all the challenges. Deadlines are tight, and the clock doesn't stop. Phoenix strives to deliver faster results with higher quality in shorter timeframes, through its product and technology choices.

Better production at a lower cost

To stay ahead of its competition, Phoenix needed to shorten turnaround times while continuing to improve quality. In 2006, the company switched to chemistry-free :Azura plates from Agfa (Ridgefield Park, NJ) which all but eliminated the need for remakes and baking. In 2007, the firm upgraded to :ApogeeX 3.5 workflow. In the pressroom, Phoenix runs a 6-color Heidelberg CD press with coater, a 5/5 Mitsubishi Tandem Perfector press with coating on two sides, and a Xerox iGen.

With :Azura, Phoenix has eliminated many of the issues that can cause downtime in the prepress area. The company also has greatly decreased its energy costs.

“The :Azura plates save us downtime — they eliminate plate issues, as well as electricity costs, because we no longer have to run an oven for 18 hours each day,” says Richards.

Phoenix was an early adopter of computer-to-plate (CTP) technology, beginning 10 years ago with a silver-halide plate from DuPont, later switching to Agfa's :Lithostar silver-halide plate and then Agfa's :P970 thermal plate. Although CTP technology was a step in the right direction, Richards recalls that the inability to delete the image from the plate easily always was considered a problem at Phoenix. “But, our new :Azura plates remind me of the old conventional aqueous plates,” he says, “in that we can now use a deletion pen, and the emulsion comes right off.”

“The pressmen actually like the :Azura plates much better because it makes their jobs easier,” Richard says. “It's easy to work with, and every plate is basically the same. There are no exposure changes based on what's buried within the plate itself. Its stability can't be beat.”

Phoenix had one operator who was skeptical about switching to the new :ApogeeX 3.5 workflow. “He's the first to point out any flaw,” Richards says. But after it was fully implemented, that operator and all the others at Phoenix have made no complaints.

The biggest gain with :ApogeeX 3.5 is the stability and speed it provides. Richards and his staff make the most of the system's new options, such as drag-and-drop, opening Preps templates, duplicate workflow and a faster database. Stability and speed translate to the remarkably fast turnaround time that clients appreciate.

“With the upgrade to :ApogeeX 3.5, we have increased productivity by at least 10 percent, not just because it processes faster, but also because of improvements such as the ability to open a Preps template from the client software,” Richards explains.

So far, Phoenix has calculated savings of at least $250 a month in electricity costs alone. California is at the forefront of environmental issues, and Phoenix Marketing is proud to be among its strongest proponents of environmental responsibility.

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