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Nov 1, 2007 12:00 AM

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What does it feel like to win Sappi's Printer of the Year competition? Imagine yourself at a swanky reception surrounded by 30 or so top printers from virtually every continent except Antarctica. To advance to the finals, your work has triumphed among about six thousand regional entries. You've excelled among your domestic peers, but are you ready to take on world-class competition? You've waited all year to find out.

The awards ceremony is black-tie and everyone looks elegant in tuxedos or evening gowns. Before Ralph Boettger, CEO of Sappi Ltd., kicks off the program, you and the other nominees have a chance to stroll around and meet each other, and, most importantly, size up each other's work, which is artfully displayed on tables around the room. You try not to be too obvious — and you do take a professional interest in all of the entries, but you find yourself almost rushing to see the other submissions in your category. How will the judges — an independent international panel — rate technical excellence, degree of difficulty and the quality of the finishing?

Anxious anticipation

You find yourself in front of a table of nine identical trophies, the large cast-bronze elephant created by sculptor Donald Greig to symbolize Sappi's South African heritage. Protocol calls for the winner, upon accepting the elephant statue, to heft it high above his or her head to the cheers of the crowd. What if you can't lift it? Suppose you drop it? What if your shirt comes untucked?

Much to your relief, Boettger greets the crowd. You're eating a wonderful dinner, but you can hardly taste it or enjoy the excellent musical accompaniment. Finally, the first award is given for the best annual report. Only a few more categories until it's your turn. Suddenly, your spouse is plucking your sleeve. “You won!” Slightly dazed, you make your way to the stage. Boettger is shaking your hand and you've got that elephant. It is just as heavy as it looks, but you have no problem hoisting it skyward as a huge smile spreads across your face.

Michael Nahan, President and CEO, Nahan Printing (St. Cloud, MN) says Sappi's International Printer of the Year accolades are on par with winning an Academy Award. “The grand production Sappi puts on is really special,” he says. “The recognition is unique and the program is professionally orchestrated. It's nice.”

Nahan won the international prize in the magazine category in 2006 for a job produced for Bergdorf Goodman. (Another project for the same client won in the 2007 North American Printer of the Year competition.)

Back to the SD Warren days

Nahan Printing has a long relationship with Sappi. “It goes back to the SD Warren days,” says Nahan, referring to the United States producer of coated woodfree paper that Sappi acquired in the mid 1990s. “We like the paper's predictability, repeatability and consistency. Sappi's technical support and customer service also are very helpful.”

Nahan says winning the prestigious competition can boost a company's profile. “With certain clients, it helps qualify us in terms of our capabilities. It can open some doors.”

Founded in 1962, Nahan Printing is a family-owned company specializing in high-end commercial printing and direct mail work. The company occupies a combined 420,000 sq. ft. with more than 600 employees serving customers nationwide. Nahan's pressroom includes a diverse array of equipment, including 40-inch sheetfed presses up to 10 colors, a wide range of forms printing capabilities, and full-size web and double-web presses capable of printing up to 10 colors.

Market specialties include high-fashion retail catalog printing and distribution, and full-service direct mail production for all segments of the direct marketing industry.

Nahan says the company name might not enjoy the same level of name recognition as some of its competitors, but the company is hearing “Nahan who?” a lot less frequently, thanks to its commitment to excellence. “We take our work seriously,” he says. “Regardless of whether a job is entered into a competition, we would strive for the same level of quality. That's the type of high-level work we do every day.”

How do you say ‘muggles’ in French?

Cascades Fine Papers Group was chosen to manufacture the paper for the Québec edition of J.K. Rowling's latest literary effort: “Harry Potter et les Reliques des la Mort.” published by Les Éditions Gallimard.

Cascades' Regeneration100 paper contains 100-percent post-consumer fiber and is manufactured exclusively for Transcontinental. Using this paper instead of virgin paper reportedly saved the equivalent of 114 football fields of trees, the water needed for a shower of 708 days and the air emissions of 71 cars.


Best ideas on text and cover papers

Mohawk Fine Papers Inc (Cohoes, NY) commissioned designer Michael Bierut to design promotions for Mohawk Superfine and Mohawk Navajo. The Pentagram team asked people from jazz musician Wynton Marsalis to author Kurt Andersen to humorist Andy Borowitz to motorcycle guru Willie G. Davidson to pick their favorites or “personal bests” from a wide range of categories. When the answers came back, said Bierut, “We found ourselves working with subject matter we never would have selected ourselves: pages from rare books from the University of Texas' Ransom Center, vintage grainy black-and-white photography from smoky jazz clubs and oversaturated comic book illustrations.”

“These books represent what I consider to be the very best in paper promotions,” says Laura Shore, senior vice president communications, Mohawk. “They are true classics; they inform and inspire.”

Despite the shifts from letterpress to offset to digital printing, Mohawk Superfine text and cover paper has endured for five decades. Navajo lets designers transition from coated to uncoated and is designed to run on digital and offset presses.

The Hennegan Co. (Florence, KY) printed Personal Best Mohawk Navajo; Blanchette Press (Vancouver, BC) printed Personal Best Mohawk Superfine.


Building an identity

Mohawk's Strathmore Writing and Strathmore Script promotion, “From Exploration to Implementation 1 and 2,” documents the development of three identity systems for three, high-end clients. The Strathmore Writing promotion features a specialty tile maker, a realestate developer and a boutique hotel — each with pullout samples of business cards, envelopes and letterheads. Similarly, the Strathmore Script kit showcases designs for a children's clothing boutique, a chemical manufacturer, and a sustainable products company.

Design firm VSA (Chicago) produced the promotions, with more than 72 logos and two identity systems for each client. Strathmore Writing features pure cotton, 25 percent cotton and digital i-Tone papers, in a range of shades including new 99-bright Platinum White and subtle blends. Strathmore Script includes FSC-certified, 100-percent PCW options in a range of whites and elegant fibered shades. Strathmore Script Pinstripe Laid is a toner-friendly digital finish with an elegant surface. A full range of text and cover options are available throughout the lines.

A new Web site lets users build a spec sheet, order paper and envelope samples, and get the latest mill promotions with a few clicks. Another tool allows for credit card orders of small quantities of paper and envelopes.


Profiles for Canon printers

Canon U.S.A. (Lake Success, NY) offers custom online profiles for its imagePROGRAF iPF6100 and imagePROGRAF iPF5000 printers. Canon has posted free enhanced paper profiles for both Mac and PC users covering the company's most popular fine art and photographic media. The profiles are free and available on the Professional Printer section of Canon's Digital Learning Center at

Recyclable paper bags

All of Weyerhaeuser Co.'s (Federal Way, WA) U.S. kraft paper bag plants have earned Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification and are authorized to use the SFI Certified Sourcing product label. Weyerhaeuser is one of the first retail packaging companies to receive this certification.

To earn the use of the SFI-certified procurement label, two-thirds of a company's bag raw material must originate from mills with certified wood fiber procurement systems or recycled paper sources. Weyerhaeuser exceeds this standard with 75 percent of its bag plants' raw material qualifying toward the two-thirds requirement.


A new look at sustainability

Wausau Paper's (Wausau, WI) 15-page piece, “Imprinting Your Vision for Sustainability on Paper,” explores how the establishment of environmental partnerships can further advance sustainable business practices.

The brochure features Doug Beasley's photographs of the Kenai Peninsula and Denali National Park in Alaska. Perforated cards offer insights from Derek Smith of Derek Smith & Associates, James Eastman of Schawk, Inc, and Amy Clarke of Peggy Lauritsen Design Group. Links to online sustainable references as well as paper specification recommendations also are included.

“This piece is not just another print promotion. It's a dialogue to introduce a new way of looking at sustainability,” says Jeff Fox, director of marketing for Wausau Paper's printing and writing sector.

Wausau Paper's sustainability effort focuses on influencers and stewards. Influencers are the art directors (in-house or agency) who are responsible for selecting paper for a company's creative communications; stewards are chief sustainability officers.

“Throughout ‘Imprinting Your Vision’ piece, we help the creative director and the sustainability executive understand each other better so that both can be more effective in their roles,” says Fox.


Evironmentally friendly cover paper

FiberMark's (Brattleboro, VT) Eviva is a high-quality, environmentally responsible line of cover paper with a natural look and feel in hues from nature's palette. Eviva is made from 100-percent recycled fiber, including 30-percent post-consumer waste.

Eviva features a vellum finish with visible fibers for an organic aesthetic. Available in both a standard cover weight and a 25-pt. heavy weight for projects requiring additional stiffness and strength, it is recommended for foil stamping and silk screening, and accepts diecutting, scoring and folding reportedly with superior hinge characteristics.


Blog for designers

Sappi Fine Paper North America (Boston) has debuted a new blog for graphic designers.


New coated paper site

Appleton Coated (Kimberly, WI), a supplier of coated papers marketed under the Utopia brand, has introduced a new Web site. The site facilitates paper selection while offering inspirational examples and practical applications. Visitors also can learn about sustainable marketing.

Carmichael Lynch Thorburn (Minneapolis) provided the creative for the site. The strategy for the site is built on the theme of “Our Paper Your Ideas. Let's Connect.”

Other highlights include information about Utopia Green, paper conversions, specs and inventory in PDF format, and an online entry form for the vendor's design competition.


Paper Products

A green field guide

Monadnock Paper Mills (Bennington, NH) has published the second edition of “A Field Guide: Eco-Friendly, Efficient and Effective Print.” The guide is printed on Monadnock's Astrolite PC 100, a 100-percent uncoated post-consumer fiber, process chlorine-free, archival quality paper. All Monadnock's graphic arts printing and packaging papers are made with 100-percent renewable electrical energy and are manufactured carbon neutral.

New information in this edition includes a full chapter dedicated to packaging, an expanded section on energy and emissions, and an overview of the various environmental programs, logos, and terminology that many paper mills use in their product literature today.

Designed for Monadnock by Signaltree Marketing and Advertising, the guide is inspired by nature field guides and features the whimsical nature illustrations of the late Charley Harper. The guide presents information from choosing paper to binding the finished piece, including paper types, paper contents and chemical labeling, sizing to reduce paper waste, inks and coatings, finishing techniques, binding, printing processes, and the use of environmental logos.


Tell me why

Domtar's (Fort Mill, SC) promotion on Lynx Opaque answers the question, “Why Paper?” This series of four books takes a look at the latest ideas regarding our relationships with paper. The first book, “Why Paper Works,” explains why paper is a natural default and often the best way to get the job done. Subsequent books in the series explain how paper protects, sustains and inspires.

Lynx Opaque features 96 brightness and good opacity. Copies of the “Why Paper?” series are available from Domtar paper distributors throughout North America.


Lighter, whiter and brighter

Tembec Paperboard Group (Temiscaming, Quebec) started up in 1990, focusing primarily on lightweight coated board. Its line of products is used in commercial printing, publishing, prestige packaging, high-impact graphic corrugated containers, point-of-purchase displays and litho-laminated packaging.

Tembec's Kallima coated cover C2S is lighter, whiter and brighter. Available in a new blue-white shade, the paper's low-density formulation lets buyers extend their purchasing power.


Far above average

“Web offset is really coming of age,” noted the judges of Sappi's 2006 international competition. The panel praised Nahan's magazine submission for its “extremely tight registration — great detail and impressive color reproduction. Not your average magazine print job.”

The Bergdorf Goodman project was printed on Sappi's 70-lb. Opus dull text and 100-lb. dull cover.

World-class printers convene in Boston

The Sappi International Printers of the Year awards were held this year at Boston's John F. Kennedy Museum on October 12, 2007.

Over 6,000 entries were received from printers competing in the four qualifying regional Printers of the Year competitions. The categories and winners were:

  • Annual Reports: Graphische Betriebe Eberl GmbH (Germany).
  • Books: Drukkerij Matthys (Belgium).
  • Brochures: Graphic Press (City of Commerce, CA).
  • Calendars: Kal Press Ltd. (Israel).
  • Catalogs: Grupo Graphico Romo SA de CV (Mexico).
  • General Print: Fontegraphica Srl (Italy).
  • Magazines (sheetfed and web): Druckpartner Druckund Medienhaus GmbH (Germany).
  • Packaging and Labels: Atlas Printers (South Africa).
  • Printer's Own Promotion: Fontegraphica Srl (Italy).

Nine overall winners were selected from recipients of gold awards in the qualifying competitions staged in each of the four regions of Sappi operations: Trading (Australasia, Asia, South and Central America), Europe, North America and Africa. A Triple Excellence award was presented to Hot Dot Print from South Africa, in recognition of its three consecutive gold General Print awards in the regional competition.

Winners in Sappi's North American competition included Williamson (annual reports); Graphic Press (brochures); Canfield & Tack (books); DirectConnectGroup (calendars); Kirkwood Printing Co. (catalogs); Meridian Printing (general print); Nahan Printing Inc. (magazines); RR Donnelley/WE Andrews (printer's own promotion).

Graphic Press' ( went on to triumph in the international contest for its “2007 Escalade Big Book” brochure. Judges Constance Sidles, Hubert Justine, Mike Lumb and Carlos Alvarado praised the entry for its well-controlled depth of color. The judges also liked the use of short insert sheets and the prepress work. Following its recently announced merger with Insync Media, Graphic Press will become Insync Marketing Solutions. (See related story on pg. 14.)

For more information on the Sappi Printers of the Year competition, see or e-mail Cheryl Shepard at