Seattle AlphaGraphics network differentiates with aScodix press as part of its value-added service offering.
By Art Hartman
The next big impact has arrived at AlphaGraphics Seattle. “We had been looking at adding dimensional digital printing effects for three years,” reports CEO Chuck Stempler. “We saw the Scodix S75 in action at the drupa and Graph Expo tradeshows and made a decision to invest in one in late 2014.” For Stempler and his team, the purchase of the B2+ size device (20.8 x 29.5 inches) is all about differentiating themselves from competitors and offering value-added services that “are not commonly available.”
Scodix enhancement technology has brought digital printing to another level, literally. If the late ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott had ever seen (and felt) the Israeli-based OEM’s three-dimensional, raised print effect, his enthusiastic response undoubtedly would’ve been a resounding, “Booyah!”
AlphaGraphics Seattle now is using the Scodix proprietary SENSE™ technology to produce shiny bling that nearly pops off the printed page for a multi-location jewelry retailer. “The customer absolutely loves the look, texture and imagery of this enhanced collateral,” says Stempler, the owner of six franchised print sites which, collectively, rank #3 on Quick Printing magazine’s annual list of the Top 100 instant and small commercial print firms (www.myprintresource.com/article/12067328/quick-printing-annual-top-100). Sales were up 9% in 2014: to $15.4 million.
“We view this press as an opportunity to continue to evolve,” he explains. “Scodix gives us the ability to create products that offer a significant advantage to what’s [currently] available to our customer base,” Stempler continues, likening this latest print investment to those he made 10 years ago in Hewlett-Packard and Xerox digital press technologies.
“We brought HP Indigo and iGen capabilities to the middle-market level in the Washington [state] area,” he recalls. At the time, these devices brought greater functionality and value to AlphaGraphics Seattle customers — just as he foresees the Scodix doing now, a decade later. His firm, which today employs 87 people, has roots dating back to 1989; its diverse production platform includes one iGen, two Indigos, three grand-format printers and six conventional offset presses, including one-color devices and a five-color, half-size sheetfed Lithrone model from Komori.
The mid-April 2015 Scodix installation marks the first such press in the Pacific Northwest.
More than a Passing Fad
“We don’t see this as a flash-in-the-pan opportunity,” Stempler stresses. Still in the early stages of development, his main strategic concerns are proper market positioning and appropriate pricing. AlphaGraphics Seattle is building volume modestly in the first six months of operation. “At first, we were only running it about two hours a day,” Stempler shared. “In month two, we ramped up to three to four hours per day.”
By this September, he and his management team hope that number increases to six to seven hours of Scodix production daily. “At that level, our ROI [return on investment] will be as calculated over the next two to three years. The technical capability is there,” he continues. “The machine is capable of running 24 hours per day.” Acknowledging that there are faster Scodix models, Stempler says, “We’re not concerned about speed. We are new to this space.”
Before signing the purchase order for the new press last December, Stempler conducted due diligence to ensure that the demand existed. “We went out and reviewed our customer base,” he explains. “We chose about 20 clients and talked to them about adding finishing capabilities. Some were existing digital customers, while others were offset and signage-related.”
Based on those positive responses, “we used recent art [from actual jobs] and redesigned based on décor.” Scodix connected him with a user in Oklahoma, which produced samples that Stempler’s team showed off to their prospects. Needless to say, the new press is creating a lot of buzz. “People are very curious about ‘that variable, polymer UV, spot UV, whatever-you-call-it’ printer,” he laughs.
AlphaGraphics Seattle also conducted “a lot of research” as to which device to buy before selecting the Scodix technology. “We looked at the economy of the equipment,” Stempler offers. “From our customers’ standpoint, the ROI is indisputable in terms of higher response rates,” he concludes. So far, they’ve printed everything from “direct mail and corporate collateral to targeted brochure-type products with variability. That’s what this device gives us: the ability to vary content sheet after sheet.”