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Blazing the Digital Print Trail: The Tukaiz Story

Jun 24, 2013 12:00 AM

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In 1963, Frank Defino Sr. started his business as a 5,000-sq.-ft. operation offering prepress and plate making services. Over the next 50 years, the company morphed into a $35 million marketing services production company that sprawls across more than 175,000 sq. ft. spread across eight buildings. Earlier this year the company unveiled a new tagline: “50 Years & Forward.”

“We’re continually reinvesting in software and hardware,” says Frank Defino Jr., Vice President and Managing Director. “You have to take smart risks.”  

In 1993, Tukaiz was among the first marketing production companies in the country to install an Indigo press at its Franklin Park, Illinois production facility. “We had a close partnership with Benny Landa,” says Defino. “His passion as well as his belief in the technology convinced us to become early adopters. Looking back, I’m so glad we made that decision.”

Two decades later, Tukaiz’s relationship with Landa remains strong. It will be among the first companies in North America to act as a beta site for Landa’s Nanographic technology.

The company currently has six HP large-format printers as well as eight HP Indigo presses: five HP Indigo 5000s, two HP Indigo 5500 presses, and an HP Indigo s2000 press. “HP has been a good partner to us,” says Defino. “We try to create an inspirational atmosphere and HP is right there with us. With Scodix, it feels the same way, it’s been wonderful working with them.” 

In January 2012, Tukaiz became one of the first marketing production companies in the world to install a Scodix S74 digital enhancement press. Defino says potential applications include point-of-purchase, point-of-service, and direct mail. “It allows you to create spot UV-type gloss,” he explains. “The polymer is much thicker than you could get with an offset press. Beyond the texture, Scodix lets us bring a sense of touch, a different feel to a printed piece.”

A basketball, for example, could have a rough, pebbled surface. But each indentation can vary—some areas of the ball can be smoother than others. “Scodix can raise and lower the amount of polymer we want to put [down],” says Defino. “It can make an image very lifelike. You can use multiple versions of polymer textures anywhere you think it would look good—it’s almost a 3D effect.”

One image can have multiple textures. “We can do a very thick gloss polymer on a certain area and then come in with another screen textured effect. We all know what variable data printing is—well, this is like variable texture printing,” says Defino.  

“The biggest advantage of the Scodix press is being able to offer something [unique],” adds Matt Giandonato, Digital Print Manager. “We can do Scodix enhancements on offset, digital, large-format, and we can do variable, too. The detail you can achieve with Scodix is way beyond anything else out there right now.”

While the effects are impressive, Defino cautions that the output is only as good as the artists, retouchers, and prepress staff who created the original files. “You have to have a really solid artist,” he says. “We use one of the channels in the art file, usually a secondary black. Scodix will only put down whatever texture you indicate, so the file has to be manipulated properly up front.” 

The Scodix machine doesn’t run at blazing speeds—it’s not suited for quick turn jobs or long-run work. It won’t replace conventional spot or UV coating or embossing. But for certain jobs it can’t be beat.

“If you go into any one of 47,000 different post offices across the US, you can see a point-of-purchase display that can only be done with Scodix,” says John Misasi, Director of National Sales. “With Scodix we gain a tremendous competitive advantage that not only differentiates us in the market, but provides our customers with an obvious value-added solution, especially in the direct mail and POP segments. We’re simply winning and producing jobs that no one else in our market can.” 

Tukaiz (Franklin Park, IL) has long been known for its leading-edge technology. But the company is equally proud of another distinction: it delivers a consistent and tailored marketing message.

“We know that once we buy a piece of technology, we are going to market it,” says Frank Defino Jr., Vice President and Managing Director. For the past eight years, Tukaiz has used image personalization software to create promotional calendars. Last year, it combined these capabilities with Scodix effects. “Our customers just ate it up,” says Defino. “We can’t expect people to come knocking on our door just because we have new technology. We have to market like a marketer wants to be marketed to!” 

CHICAGO PICK: “Being Italian, we love Taylor St.” says Defino. “Cars are always double parked in front of Al’s Italian Beef, and Mario’s Italian Ice is to die for.”

Tukaiz, (pronounced “two kays”), was the original the name of the business Frank Defino, Sr. purchased in 1963. The original owners were the Kirchners, a father-and-son team. Tukaiz is a play on “two ‘Ks.’ Now you know! BREAKING NEWS: Frank Defino Sr., CEO of Tukaiz, has just received the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Sportsman of the Year Award.