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A Goodway to profit

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Located just off Route 128/95 and convenient to New England's major technology centers, Goodway Group of Massachusetts, Inc. (Burlington, MA) is firmly committed to digital technology. When high tech required shorter runs and quicker turnarounds, Goodway met the demand by developing and hosting one of the first Web-based just-in-time documentation ordering systems. This program, created in the 1990s, used a combination of inventory pick-and-pack and digital print-on-demand to guarantee daily deliveries of key product documentation to HP.

Building on its high-tech roots, Goodway looked at new markets as documentation migrated to CDs or downloadable PDFs. The adaptable company looked for new opportunities in higher education, direct marketing and franchise operations. These markets were all prime candidates for digital printing, variable-data printing and Web-based print-on-demand (POD).

In 2007, Goodway's parent company, The Goodway Group of Companies, mandated a push to have its three divisions work more collaboratively. Today, work is routinely swapped between Goodway's Massachusetts plant, its sister plant in Virginia and the agency division/headquarters in Pennsylvania. “We help each other in overload periods and cross-sell our services,” says Rick Joly, vice president of the New England operation. “Because we work for multinational companies who manage collateral locally but want it distributed around the world, Global Communications is our new tagline.”

A diverse operation

In order to serve its growing customer base, Goodway runs a cold web press, two sheetfed and four digital presses — two monochrome and two color. “We use the cold webs for directories, manuals and documentation-type books,” explains Joly. “The sheetfeds are used for medium-length runs and also for printing process color covers for material produced on the web press. The color Xerox iGen digital presses do posters for colleges, direct mail and collateral, most of which has variable content. The black-and-white digital devices print short-run documentation.”

One of Goodway's latest ventures is printing short-run books for K-12 publishers on the iGen digital presses. “If the publishers are testing new titles, we'll print 500 to 1,000 of the books digitally. On the other hand, if the publishers are considering discontinuing a title, they make it available only in small quantities and, again, we produce short runs on the iGen,” says Joly.

Goodway bought its first iGen five years ago. In fact, the innovative company was the second commercial installation of the Xerox iGen in the northeast. In 2007, Goodway purchased a second one. “We had a long-standing relationship with Xerox, having used their black-and-white equipment for years. So the move to color was easier using Xerox. They have been very good, responding to our issues and providing support of all types,” remarks Joly.

With so many in-house print options and the partnership with its sister companies, how does Goodway decide which press to use on any particular job? From Joly's perspective, a static job that takes more than half a shift belongs on an offset press. If a book has a run of several thousand, it will be done on a sheetfed; 5,000 or above on the web press.

“Most of our clients give us the option to print it on whatever press we prefer. Obviously some jobs dictate the use of the digital equipment. As a result, we have calibrated our iGen to replicate what we can produce on our sheetfed Heidelberg Speedmaster 4-color perfecting press. The match is so good that most of our clients have a hard time distinguishing between the two jobs,” Joly claims. “The fact that we come from an offset background means we understand what traditional printing looks like and can adapt digital presses to match offset presses.”

Building for the future

Goodway firmly believes that the print industry is moving toward a multi-channel communications model. The $8 million Massachusetts firm conducts cross-marketing campaigns for its clients that include hard mail, e-mail and PURLs. The agency in Philadelphia offers podcasts, videos and text messaging. With about half of its digital work being variable, Goodway offers a one-stop service for its clients.

“We've been doing variable data in some form for six years. Many clients now have recurring programs, which means repeat projects that occur once or twice a week or month,” explains Joly. “We've even done campaigns for national manufacturers that exceed 500,000 runs. Taking on jobs like that can only be done with a sophisticated system for merging the mailings.”

But it's not enough just to have printing and mailing capabilities, maintains the Goodway exec. “We have to market our services effectively and communicate better with our clients. Choosing the right partners and the right software, therefore, is very important to our success.”

The New England printer uses InterlinkOne (Wilmington, MA), an application service provider (ASP) whose software integrates variable-data printing, e-mails and PURLs, and features an online storefront. This software allows Goodway to offer complete multichannel campaigns from one application. Joly asserts, “Direct response is always enhanced by a combination of print and e-mail.”

Goodway also uses HubCast (Burlington, MA), a distribute-and-print ASP that allows multinational companies to have their work versioned, printed and delivered regionally. Goodway is a HubCast-certified printer serving as a local supplier for the HubCast network.

“We have several clients already using the HubCast model, with several more proposals on the table,” says Joly.

As Goodway moves into the future, it has found that choosing the right vendor partners and the right technology can pay off both in the short and long term. But choosing clients also plays a big role for this savvy communications company. “We try to deal with a small number of clients with big needs, to build very strong relationships,” says Joly. “In fact, we have about 100 clients, with 20 providing the majority of our business. With this mix, we are able to deliver service and dedication that our competitors can't. Goodway personnel are tuned in to what the client wants and needs. That's something companies can't always do.”

And so, the Goodway Group of Massachusetts has found a good way to ensure its continuing success — the use of digital technology, strong vendor partners and the dedication to clients not found in many other organizations.


Jill Roth is executive editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

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Variables 2008 takes place July 17-18 at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC.