Print Shop Volume In U.S. Top 50


Information Technology’s Design & Print service recently joined a list of 50 organizations with the top-volume in-house print shops in the country. The list includes companies such as Allstate Insurance, Tyson Foods and the Hershey Company, as well as organizations like the World Bank and the U.S. Government printing office.

The university’s print shop produces a wide variety of departmental and university communications to students, faculty and staff, as well as external communications.

“A few examples of the 115 jobs we’re working on right now include artist guild posters, bike route maps, freshman orientation guides, opera programs, cancer survivor invitations and press kits for the NCAA tournament,” said Bob Knaster, director of IT Design & Print. “Between the campus production print shop, the office environment, student printing and outsourcing, we help create over 60 million pages each year.”

While the IT print shop is in the top 50 for volume, it ranks much lower for the number of employees on its staff. This means that the shop does a lot of work with a relatively small team.

“We are 77th in number of employees, which is a testament to the ability of our staff,” Knaster said. “This points to us being a good value. While we have one of the top printing volumes, we do it with less.”

This efficiency is due in part to IT Design & Print’s revitalization over the past several years. When Knaster became director of the unit five years ago, the shop was nearly a million dollars in debt and its equipment was old and inefficient. Knaster crafted a plan to pull the shop out of debt and improve customer service and satisfaction. Over a five-year period, the printing team has reduced expenses, replaced old equipment with new, faster printers, and improved processes to get printing jobs back to customers faster. For example, the iGen3 printer was replaced with two Color Press 800 printers, generating $40,000 in savings per year. Having two smaller presses, rather than one large press, resulted in a system where one press could fully back up the other press, or both printers could run together, doubling output. As a result of these types of strategies, the million-dollar debt has been reduced to about $64,000, and is expected to be eliminated in the near future.

Customer costs and turnaround times improved, too. For example, the old manual business card process was replaced with an automatic process where faculty and staff members input their own information into an online ordering form. This new process cut the price of business cards from nearly $150 to $25. Print shop staff utilized new, more efficient processes to turn around jobs faster while maintaining high quality, cost-effective service. Customers report that they are pleased with the professional design and printing services they receive. In 2012, IT Design & Print customer follow-up surveys revealed that ninety-seven percent of customers think printing services are priced fairly and are ready on time, and the same percentage are satisfied with the quality of service they receive.

While handling its top-50 volume, the print shop is able to complete 80 percent of printing jobs within one week. Last year, 7.5 million printed items were delivered to customers in one day or less. The print shop also works with contract printers to outsource jobs when appropriate. For example, if a customer doesn’t need a print job right away, the shop can competitively bid the job to ensure the lowest possible price.

Most of the time, however, the IT print shop can deliver the best cost without turning to its outsourcing option. “When you compare us, apples-to-apples, with other printing services, we are cheaper, better and faster,” Knaster says.

Although IT Design & Print does handle a large volume of printing, the shop is also dedicated to sustainability. It urges the university community to print only when necessary. Student printing is not subsidized by the university, to encourage students to print less. All paper contains a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and is Forest Stewardship Council certified. One hundred percent of the print shop’s waste is recycled and kept out of landfills.

Finally, the print shop is part of the university community, which means its staff understands the needs of faculty and staff members better than an outside company could.

“We’re here, and we care,” Knaster said. “We try to develop a rapport with people, because we want to make sure we understand what they need.”