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48 ProPrint December 2013
market, printing a brochure, stuffing it,
mailing it, and then following it up --
basically a direct-mail model. The
business just wasn't being utilised as
it should have been and I've changed
that," he says.
Business is now healthy. On average,
the company is picking up a new client
each week, broadening services to
existing customers and becoming what
he describes as "a well-known, medium-
sized mailing house". The staff of 18
includes four new hires. While he will
not divulge figures, he says ROI is up
since the expansion.
Active Mail invested
heavily in updating its
B2B data set. "We've
also created a new custom-built database
system. We're launching it online, so
there'll be a portal where customers can
enter their selection criteria and will even
be able to rent or purchase their lists
online with a credit card and have them in
real time." There is also a new US-sourced
MIS developed specifically for
The company has maintained its
traditional print component, running
a Ryobi SRA3 press, two single-colour
Ryobis and four digital presses.
"I don't think any mailhouses have
offset printing internally, but it's
a huge leg-up," says Pearsall.
"It's easy to convert clients.
It's all about the cross-sell."
One traditional Brisbane
offset enterprise has ventured
boldly into commercial
digital printing. Kuhn Corp Press, located
in Virginia, has recently added a Xerox
Color J75 press to handle straight and
variable data jobs.
Chief executive Walter Kuhn tells
ProPrint that around two years ago the
eight-staff operation identified a demand
from retail majors for booklets and
catalogues specific to various states or
200-300 branch stores, with variations
in pricing a nd product availability.
"Clients have a need [for variable data]
but they basically don't know it until they
get involved. You cultivate that need.
At the end of the day, you want to make
sure the customer gets what they want
at a realistic price," he says.
Kuhn Corp's production line-up also
includes a six-colour Komori Lithrone
and a Heidelberg GTO 46. Until it went
digital, Kuhn Corp outsourced its digital
jobs. "We'll start by utilising external
partners, and then we'll look at the cost
of doing it in-house, buying machinery,
hiring staff and so on. Once we get our
break-even point, we then have to make
That also allows the company to gauge
the best technology. "Obviously, things
change, we know that. But it does enable
you to set up a benchmark plan as to how
to approach it, in terms of time, cost and
staffing," says Kuhn.
During its digital research process,
Kuhn Corp sent a file to a wide range of
press vendors and asked them to print it.
"We then looked at the results compared
to an offset job we'd run from the file, so
we could gauge what would complement
offset. And it had to be at a good price
point as well. We found the J75 was the
best value for money and best quality for
that sized machine."
Kuhn Corp moved to self-owned
premises at Virginia mid-year after
renting for many years at nearby
Geebung. The new site allows more space
for its packaging activities. The Xerox
press was delivered to Virginia after the
move. The installation included several
"We purposely built an area for it first,
with features like air-conditioning.
The whole thing had been planned for
eight to 12 months," says Kuhn.
Printing digital under its roof has
enabled the company to more fully
service existing customers and attract
new clients, says Kuhn.
However, he says it will take another
six to 12 months to properly assess the
return on investment.
The company is no stranger to
spreading its wings. In 1999, it ventured
beyond its sheetfed roots to develop a
packaging business. "From that point of
view, we have a lot of knowledge on how
to attract new markets," says Kuhn.
You want to make sure the customer
gets what they want at a realistic price
Walter Kuhn, Kuhn Corp Press
how to tread new turf
• Get to know your customers and
their ad agencies. What are their
aims and strategies, and where
might you fit in?
• Test the market first by committing
to more of your existing customers'
requirements. Start by asking them
what else they need printed.
• Outsource the extra work to gauge
how feasible it would be in terms
of cost, time and human resources
to bring it in-house.
• Do your due diligence on capital
equipment investment. Research
the vendors thoroughly and make
sure your finances match your wish
list. Bring your accountant into
the loop. Remember to perform
a cost-benefit analysis.
• Expand or reconfigure your
production area before you take
delivery of new kit.
• Don't forget to look at your front
office. Remember that your new
customers might not be print buyers,
but are print providers who want to
use you for your web-to-print
services or as a hub print provider.
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