J & J Printing operate from a 12,000ft2 purpose-built facility in Lenexa, Kansas. Established in 1985, the company now offers a huge range of print and related services including online ordering, high volume mailing campaigns and variable data printing.
The breadth of J & J’s service offering and its rapid growth in recent years has meant that some print work has had to be produced by external suppliers, which was a situation that General Manager Jim Ferguson was keen to change. He explains: “We were outsourcing about 15% of our business because we couldn’t produce it in-house, so we were looking at a larger press.” Ferguson was guided in the procurement process by the company’s President of Production, Wayne Welkner. Having thoroughly researched the options available, Welkner proposed that J & J should invest in a new, faster press fitted with an LED UV curing station.
Having decided that LED UV was the way to go, Welkner researched multiple potential suppliers. He shortlisted UK-based manufacturer GEW after reading about their reputation in the narrow-web curing market, as he remarks: “We started looking around we came across GEW. I noticed the number of installs that they had around the world, that impressed me number one… number two was the fact that they had a five-year warranty on your power supply, that gave me a great comfort level because that was an issue I heard out there with other systems.”
J & J’s print team run a high percentage of carton and packaging jobs. Their Ryobi press has been upgraded with collapsible cylinders to accommodate board and other heavy substrates, and they have an IR coatings dryer at the delivery end of the press. When adding the LED UV system, it was important to Welkner that any further adaptation to the machine was well-considered and complemented what they already had, without any possible conflict.
Welkner also needed a movable lamp option and so was looking for a turnkey solution specially engineered to suit the press. He was keen to work with a supplier with a track record in complex retrofitted solutions, and this was the deciding factor when choosing to work with GEW. He describes J & J’s needs: “One of the options we wanted was to be able to move the lamp between Units 4 and 3, and that would allow us to do some other things with coatings that we couldn’t do before. It also allowed us to do double-hit opaque white, to help get a nice dense white on dark substrate and if we have a very heavy coverage, sometimes the yellow will contaminate… well now we can cure before the yellow goes down and the yellow stays clean the rest of the run.”
Another common problem that was encountered by J & J, like most printers, was a change in the look of printed work during the drying process. This issue was particularly prevalent on uncoated stock and sometimes led to negative feedback from clients, who approved their job on press and then received the finished work some days later, fully dry and flatter in appearance. Welkner illustrates the scenario: “Another thing too is if we do the press OK – and they love it – and then it dries over the evening and it’s different it’s like uhh… and you can’t anticipate that, but now with LED it’s done… what they see is what they get the next morning.”
The combination of the board upgrade and the introduction of LED UV curing has had a dramatic effect on sales for J & J’s Account Executive Tom Latendresse, as he describes: “Since we’ve added the LED technology the ability for me to reach out to more clients and sell higher volume as well as more value-added features – that’s been huge, to be able to offer more than what my competition can offer.” He adds: “Folding carton work has become a key component to our sales. With the addition of the board press in combination with the LED curing, we’re able to meet more of our customers’ needs and applications.”
The ability to print on plastics and other synthetic substrates has also opened new doors, as Latendresse remarks: “It gave us the opportunity to call on customers that require styrene or vinyl, plastic synthetic substrates that in the past we were not able to do.”
Jim Ferguson believes that the investment in new technology has paid back convincingly for J & J. He comments: “We knew that if we could bring in-house that 15% that we were outsourcing, our cost of goods would really start to drop. The press really started to pay for itself after a little over a year… and our sales are almost doubled since we’ve installed the LED UV.”
J & J specialize in high-end commercial work and offer the full range of processes to add value, including embossing, foil stamping, spot UV, soft touch lamination and perfect binding. They have a multitude of prestigious print industry awards to show for this work, and relish taking on ambitious and technically challenging projects. Welkner describes one such recent job: “We got a job in right after we got the LED UV lamp installed and we were struggling with how we were going to produce it, and then we realized we could actually cure a heavy silver coverage and then lay this really fine black type on it… if we wouldn’t have had this lamp configuration I don’t think we could have produced this job the way it came out.”
It is this willingness to push the technical boundaries that has led to J & J’s enviable reputation and their abundance of print awards. Welkner recounts his attendance at a recent industry event, with a wry smile: “I went to an awards banquet down in Dallas and they just kept calling my company name and I kept going up and about the sixth time I was just waiting for some Texas printer to trip me up on the way up there to receive the
award!” He sums up his thoughts: “It’s been a game-changer for our company, this technology.”
Ferguson agrees, adding: “We’ve even had customers compliment… ‘you know I had someone else print this piece, but your piece looks so much sharper’ and it just jumps a little bit more off the page. The quality that we produce now, there’s no comparison.” He summarises the way ahead for J & J Printing: “It’s a no-brainer for us, our next press that we purchase will be LED UV. If you’re looking to improve your business, the LED UV technology is the only way to go.”
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